Perhaps unsurprisingly as manouche has much in common with it’s Mediterranean cousin pizza, Beirut has several pizza places of note. The guide books all list Olio in Gemmayze as somewhere to visit, which is fair enough however my favourite spots for pizza in Beirut would be Cafe Mondo at the Phoenicia, Aliacci in Gemmayze and nudging past them into first place, Margheritas http://www.pizzeriamargherita.com/index.html also in Gemmayze. Located around half way down Rue Gouraud on the right hand side (if you are coming from martyrs square) I managed to walk past the discrete entrance on several occasions before I actually made it inside.
I have never seen the pizzeria less than full to bursting but was always lucky enough to grab a seat at the small bar in the front of the restaurant, by the impressive pizza ovens where I would watch the chefs at work. The menu lists many other dishes apart form pizza, the home made bruschetta are also extremely good and highly recommended as was the gazpacho and charcuterie platter I ordered on occasion as well.
Pictured is a Prosciutto e Funghi pizza ( Parma ham and mushrooms) served exactly as I like it. Piping hot and fresh from the oven literally metres away, the pizza spent less than two minutes in the oven coming out with a crunchy edge yet wafer thin, soft pizza base and topped with generous amounts of mozzarella, salty Parma ham and earthy mushrooms.
Magheritas also have a way with vegetable preparations, the contorni (side order) section of the menu is short and sweet but the spinach and lemon is zesty, perfectly seasoned and a nice way to add extra greens into your diet (not as easy as you might imagine in Beirut unless you are talking salads)
They list several Italian wines by the glass as well as local options, none too badly priced either and of course plenty of Almaza. Staff are friendly and they even let you guess the number of a dice you pick out from a small velvet bag offered with the cheque in order to win your meal for free ( i got within 2 numbers on several occasions, close but not close enough!)
I have also included a picture of a “white” pizza with a generous topping of spinach and cheese from Aliacci, located further towards Mar Mikhail with a slightly more grown up “Trattoria” style than Margherita and another hot tip for Beirut’s best pizza.