While we face more than a fortnight of lockdown here in Turkey due to the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic, it doesn’t mean our taste buds need to suffer. In fact, there couldn’t be a better time to indulge in the ultimate of comfort foods, the blessed pizza pie, especially when you can have the best of the best of Italian cuisine delivered straight to your door here in Istanbul.
Check out this esteemed selection of some of the most upscale gourmet pizzas on offer in Istanbul to while away the time at home while dining on a wonderfully satisfying meal.
Pizza Locale is one of Turkey’s true success stories when it comes to quality food chains that have branched out throughout the country, and they just happen to excel in the art of pizza making. They began in Izmir’s colorful Alsancak neighborhood in western Turkey through the friendship of two entrepreneurs who met at Dokuz Eylül University. While both ventured into corporate careers, one a banker and one working at congresses and expos, they then joined forces putting their wits together to define the perfect pizza dough, tomato sauce and high-quality toppings, and ample amounts at that, to open a shop in Alsancak in 2015.
It was in the ultra chic-slash-windsurfing haven of Alaçatı, Turkey’s hotspot vacation destination, where the name Pizza Locale exploded. Their restaurant, located in a humble spot, became anything but. Pizza Locale was suddenly famed for their gourmet pizzas featuring elite ingredients such as smoked meats, cheese-stuffed sausage, four-cheese with pesto, teriyaki chicken, avocado and salmon, to name just a few. There are now nearly 30 branches spread out throughout the country with 10 in their native Izmir, two in Istanbul, three in Ankara as well as branches in Bodrum, Marmaris and Antalya. They are all decorated in the same sleek industrial design and all offer the same high quality of ample ingredients and signature scrumptious dough and sauce. Pizza Locale delivers the top-notch pizza experience, which I can personally attest have made it a landmark location for intercity travel or even better if you are lucky enough to be within their delivery areas. I highly recommend giving their pizza, salads and especially their artichoke and pesto salad as well as their dessert pies, which include white chocolate calzones and Nutella and M&M pizzas a try.
First operating out of a tiny locale in the heart of Beşiktaş’s Çırağan neighborhood, the taste and pleasure delivered by The Upper Crust Pizza is anything but small. From their steak and Gorgonzola, cheddar and bresaola, karnıyarık with smoked eggplant, their "A ton of love" with tuna, and a Hawaiian pizza that could challenge any argument of whether pineapple belongs on pizza, their options are out of this world. They also offer a vegan pizza with cashew cheese, spinach and mushroom as well as a chocolate calzone, meaning all areas of cravings are covered. Operating now out of two locations in Bebek and Maslak, The Upper Crust delivers some of the ultimate pizza out there and their extra-large sizes means you get a truly large slice, which is also an option in takeaway orders that is sometimes just what the doctor ordered.
The premier locale of esteemed chef Mehmet Gürs in Istanbul, Num Num, which delivers from Istanbul's Ataşehir district and Esentepe's Kanyon Shopping Center, dishes up top-notch pizzas in addition to offering a wide variety of comfort food favorites such as nachos, buffalo wings, burgers and pastas. The pizzas, however, are as top-notch as can be expected from this renowned chef, who was born in Finland to a Turkish father and Finnish-Swedish mother and whose career spans stints in the U.S. and later Istanbul’s acclaimed restaurant Mikla. Considered one of the best chefs in Turkey, Gürs’ Num Num chain offers the opportunity to dine on the ultimate in gourmet cuisine from home. The pizzas on offer include shredded barbecue beef, dried meet with ricotta, a formaggi pizza with sage and rosemary and smoked salmon with zucchini, eggplant and pickled onions to name just a few.
Having gained fame with their flagship location in Beyoğlu’s Cihangir, Miss Pizza serves up authentic Italian pizza with thin yet bubbly crusts and high-quality ingredients including buffalo mozzarella, gorgonzola, artichokes, calamari and shrimp, asparagus, prosciutto and veal pepperoni. For mushroom lovers, their porcini and gorgonzola medley is a true favorite. Dining in the restaurants themselves, which have also branched out to Şişhane, makes one feel they could be in Italy with the bustling environment and gourmet vibe. In addition to their signature artichoke and truffle oil soup and an extensive salad and dessert menu, they also serve up a sweet pizza with ricotta, honey and pine nuts that is also to die for and brings the elite culinary culture offered directly to your door.
Bafetto is Istanbul’s Asian-side conquerors of the quintessential pizza restaurant and delivery chain with branches in Ataşehir, Şaşkınbakkal, Kartal and now Tuzla. The restaurants are casual with comfortable wooden booths and the pizza delivers, literally. With country-based selections atop a crispy thin crust ranging from the Amsterdam with a trio of mushrooms, Paris with pepper-smoked meat, the Frankfurter with sausage, the Norwegian with smoked salmon, their newest edition the Robespierre with smoked fillet steak and the Greenpeace with avocado, their selection is in a world of its own, literally and truly delicious at that.
I bet you didn’t know the prestigious Italian restaurant chain Mezzaluna, which first opened in New York’s Manhattan in 1984 also operates a takeaway and delivery service in which you can dine on luxurious authentic Italian cuisine from the comfort of your home. Mezzaluna Paket, based in Beykoz and Sarıyer, crosses continents literally bringing the tastes of Italy to your door. Thus, if you want to indulge in the flavors of foreign lands as you are locked up in the weeks to come, splurging on a meal from Mezzaluna may be a satisfying solution. With a menu spanning Italian antipasti, pastas and risotto, there is also an extensive pizza menu that includes the classics such as four-cheese, Diavola and Bresaola as well as a delicious pizza rosa with sundried tomatoes and capers as well as serves up specialty pizzas such as crispy crust variations, stuffed pizzas, including a vegetarian option, and a calzone with artichokes and mushrooms. They also have an impressive gourmet salad menu to lighten the load and a panna cotta with amaretto to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Situated in Şişli’s Kurtuluş neighborhood, the pizza menu at Zucca is as multicultural as the neighborhood it is housed in. Luckily during lockdown, this quaint and beloved neighborhood eatery will be delivering their delicious pizzas to your door. While they are famed for their pumpkin pizza, adorned with a trio of mushrooms, pumpkin seeds and capers, they also serve a four-cheese with three mushrooms and multiple pizzas with leek variations, avocado options, smoked eggplant and even a pizza with the beloved topping of bacon. This locale is a great choice for non-meat lovers as they also have multiple mouthwatering vegetarian and vegan options to boot!
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