Olio: Pizza, REAL Pizza!!

It was my birthday; excuse me for not saying how old I am. My cake said I was twenty two and who am I to argue with something as truthful as a cream filled dessert??
A group of my best friends were all gathered and waiting for me to celebrate that glorious day. One of them was supposedly out of town and surprised us all (I’m looking at my gym and clubbing buddy :)).

After a short stroll in Gemmayze, we ended up walking in into Olio. Funny enough, we all secretly felt like Italian all along and were too polite to say anything about it.

A pizza is a pizza. Well, we aren’t kids anymore — and we definitely are not in college anymore. We all remember those days, getting the cheapest and biggest pizza possible. As a kid, I always thought, the more toppings a pizza had, the better it was — all the meats, all the veggies. Don’t even get me started on the crust — I didn’t believe in it and I didn’t eat it. Now that I am older and wiser, my take on pizza is a little different. I am all about fine ingredients, and the crust is the main event. Yes, I am talking about Neapolitan pizza, the real stuff.

Neapolitan pizzas are made very simply. The crust is thin, yet tender, as the dough is very fragrant of yeast. Toppings include only the simple ones: garlic, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and olive oil. You will rarely find a Neapolitan pizza with the works. Traditionally, Neapolitan pizzas are eaten with a knife and fork, hence, they are not sliced into slices. Walking to Olio, Gemmayze, Neapolitan style pizza is what I came for, and that is what I got.

Olio has a very urban Italian feel to it. Which made it’s intrior stand out compared to the other restaurants which always seem to aim for a rustic rural traditional feel. I understand the nostalgic notion behind that, yet Olio’s interior was a bit of a fresh breeze of air and a nice change. I loved the fact that I can see the chief working and preparing our pizzas (9/10 for the interior)

It was late at night and almost 2 hours into closing time. Yet, the staff at Olio made us feel very much welcomed. They were energetic and very attentive to our needs and the whole “we are celebrating a birthday” chaos. Our waiter was super patient and very friendly. The service was simply flawless. (10/10 for the service)

As I have already mentioned, pizza was the main attraction. Although Olio serves a lot of pasta and risotto dishes, we were on a mission.. Mission Neopolitan. Those were a couple of our choices for the night:

The pizza “Salmone” had Smoked Salmon, Mozzarella, Ricotta Cream, Dill, and Capers. My ultimate favorite pizza. Very rich and subtle flavors, everything was well balanced to perfectly compliment the flavor of the salmon.

The pizza “Genovese” for my vegetarian friend. It had Pesto Sauce, Eggplant, Mozzarella Gorgonzola, Parmigiano Cheese, and Cherry Tomato. Pesto with anything is heaven, the mixes of cheeses and the pesto just made a match in heaven.

Pizza “Margherita”. It had mozzarella, basil, extra virgin olive oil. At first look, it seems very simple, but this is where the pizza shines. The flavors are perfect and fresh on its own, but together, they make a perfectly flavored pizza. I made sure to have some basil with every bite — the floral essence gave the pizza a nice rounded out flavor and finished it off nicely.

In all our pizza choices the crust was crispy, yet tender with a nice chew. The mozzarella is actual mozzarella, not the fake partial skim milk you find on all other pizzas.

Olio makes amazing pizza. Their ingredients are fresh and authentic. Nothing is left for second best. Every pizza is made with care and the taste shows. They really managed to impress me, with moderately priced wine and beers available, it was an affordable dinner. The pizza was definitely the star — you can come here and not have a pizza. Along with some of the best and authentic Napoletana style pizzas around, you are eating something worth eating.

I didn’t mind the food stealing the attention that night. It was well worth it.

Thank you my friends and Olio for giving me a nice dining experience on my Birthday! (9/10 for the entire dining experience)

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19 thoughts on “Olio: Pizza, REAL Pizza!!

  1. Happy Birthday!!

    I read the review and all I can think about is, how old is he?
    Judging from your photo, I would guess 25-26.

    On a more serious note, a very well written review as always. Very informative and detailed. I adore how you rate every single aspect on its own.
    I have been to Olio on many occasions and I admit, you are 100% right. It one REAL pizza!

    Kudos for your wonderful review and Olio.

  2. Happy birthday Aziz… your pattern of writing is very attractive and interesting. liked the information, details, explanations and ratings for everything. I can admit its one of the most appealing reviews i have ever read 🙂

  3. I will make sure it will be our first dinner when I come to Beirut. U just let me imagine this whole experience. And I actually felt that it’s all in front of me. Thx for this awesome review.

  4. Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and will come back sometime soon. I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great job, have a nice weekend!

  5. “Traditionally, Neapolitan pizzas are eaten with a knife and fork”. I’m from Sorrento, Napoli, Italia. I have never eaten a pizza with a Knife and fork. It’s forbidden in Napoli. Have you ever been in Napoli, habibi?!?!? Do you really know what you’re talking about?? I don’t think so.

    • Dear Robertina,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad to get an Italian feedback.

      I have indeed been to Italy on many occasions. It was explained to me by many that the “Italian way” of eating pizza is to eat it right out of the oven with the cheese still bubbling. The pizza was always served un-sliced. I was instructed to cut it with a knife and fork and eat the first 1-2 slices with the fork to allow the pizza to cool down a bit to be handled by hand and at the same time not scold my mouth.
      I might have no idea what I’m talking about…. Concerning the right pizza eating etiquette, yet that wasn’t the point of the post. It’s simply my review of a good Italian restaurant.

      Thank you again very much for your valuable comment. I will do my best to limit my writings to things I know “what I’m talking about”.

      • Was there last night actually. One of my favorate pizzarias in Lebanon.

        I’m shocked by Robertina’s Comment. I’m a trained Chef myself and I learned under the hand of great italian chefs. To say that a pizza is traditionally not eaten by a knife and fork is weird.
        Pizzas are prepared in a wood fire oven with really high temperatures. They are best served and eaten directly out of the oven. They soon start to detoriorate and get soggy. Unless people have asbestos hands and mouths, the pizzas are cut by knife and fork and first few bites are eaten that way.

        I apologize from you my lady, but it seems Aziz here does know what he is talking about!

      • Thank you!!

        The proper way of eating a pizza has always been sort of a controvertial issue. Even among the italians themselves.
        As long as you are enjoying your meal, I say eat it the way that pleases you and follow no rules.

  6. Olio? really?

    I never tried it and was never tempted to. Weird.
    After reading this, Im definitely going there soon.

    Thanks for the Tip!

  7. I just moved to beirut about 10 days ago. I work for an NGO and I’m a sucker for a good meal.

    I will be following your blog and planning my outings accordingly.


  8. Hello, glad to discover your blog! I moved to Beirut about a year ago and could definitely use some guidance on the restaurant scene here. Thanks!

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