Pizza the action: a slice of New York comes to Dubai

A lifelong obsession with mixed with a dollop of excellent customer service is paying off for the Pizza Guys, which opened in Dubai this year.

A short chat with The Pizza Guys – aka Amber Haque and Rami Badawi – feels a bit like a lesson in the entrepreneurial arts. The husband-and-wife team, who set up their New York-style pizzeria in Business Bay in March, seem to tick all the ‘must-have’ boxes when it comes to starting your own business: product obsession, a focus on customer service, excellent relationships with both suppliers and investors and - last but not least - luck in spades. Above all, they are clearly having the time of their lives.

The idea for a neighbourhood joint that served great Neapolitan pizza, where the clientele knew the owners and felt comfortable hanging out, had been in Rami’s thoughts for at least a decade. Although raised in Abu Dhabi, he had spent a decade working in the US for Ritz-Carlton, and would often end up in the local pizzerias after lengthy night shifts.

“They were really the only places open at the time – people would go there to grab a slice or a calzone on the way home,” Rami recalls. “I noticed they had a cult following, and I remember thinking, wow, I bet these guys make a lot of money.”

Although the couple first met at high school in Abu Dhabi, Amber took a different career path, gaining a masters in human rights law before moving to Dubai in 2008 to work as a sales and marketing director for a local firm. But the obsession to create the perfect slice of pizza eventually saw them team up at the beginning of 2011 to set up their own business.

“Rami is a pizza fanatic, and he has been ever since I’ve known him,” says Amber. “Because of his background in the hospitality industry, he’s been exposed to a lot of food, so the idea to include ingredients like stracciatella cheese and wagyu beef came from him.

“He’s pretty militant about the oven temperature – we have a laser-controlled thermometer. He knows exactly what he wants and he’s thrown away pizzas that have come out of the oven in front of customers because they weren’t up to scratch.

“We’ve even had to turn away people because the oven wasn’t hot enough. He’s a little bit extreme, but that’s because this is something he’s been thinking about for a long time,” she adds.

Rami doesn’t immediately strike the casual observer as a “militant obsessive” but the softly spoken Palestinian soon reveals the depths of his passion for pizza.

“If somebody doesn’t like my product, it hurts my feelings,” he says. “I take it so personally that every time something goes wrong, it really hurts. But I don’t think you can be like that every time something goes wrong, because you can’t win every single battle – but we do really try to.”

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Posted by: Karim

Thought highly of them when I read the article. Fairly disappointing to see horrible attitudes there.. And the arrogance OMG.. Good luck to them but can't see this very sustainable if they continue with the attitude..

Posted by: Motaz

These guys are truly passionate about thier pizza and it shows. Hands down it is the best pizza i had in town. Coincidently I had ordered one yesterday and enjoyed every last bite, glad i live closeby. Good job guys and keep up the good work! Extra Extra mushroom :)

Posted by: Hisham

They are business geniuses. It is rare to find someone with so much passion and vision for pizza and I wish them all the best in continuing their success

Posted by: mick

All the components except any tie to NYC. Growing up near NYC, I would never think that ticking "all the boxes" would include arabic owners from Abu Dhabi with no specialization in Italian food"
Maybe if they were Italians from Brooklyn or Queens, I'd see the relevance.
Is this like all of those hair "saloons" in UAE called cosmopolitan city names?

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