I’m always happy to learn of new restaurants in Nairobi, especially around my area in Karen. The latest one to have been mentioned to me came with notably high recommendations.
At least three people assured me that it was where I would find ‘The best pizzas in town’. It’s called Matteo’s, and I didn’t hesitate to book a table there for lunch last Sunday.
The Matteo’s I knew was in Naivasha, along the Moi South Lake Road. I had driven past it many times, and was very familiar with its large, wooden sign. The branch in Nairobi opened last August, but it isn’t signposted at all. It’s off Ngong Road, opposite the Karen Road junction, but you’d have to know it was there.
Aside from an unavoidably muddy car park, Matteo’s couldn’t have made a better first impression. My wife and I wandered across a wide lawn to a stone courtyard, where a smartly-dressed man introduced himself as Mario and showed us to our table.
Along the terrace beside us, a large group of Italians chatted and gestured jovially, greeting others warmly as they arrived. Snippets of Italian drifted across from the parasoled tables in the courtyard, too, transporting us back to our honeymoon in Sicily.
Alongside the main building, which is a converted stable, were more tables scattered on the lawn beneath a broad cassia tree. To our right, by the courtyard, was a small hut called the ‘Pizza House’, containing a wood-fired pizza oven. And next to that was another small building, draped in bougainvillea, with safari-themed paintings and a coffee/cocktail bar.
Not long after we sat down, I spotted a friend who had also booked a table for lunch. ‘Is this your first time here?’, he asked, somewhat surprised. ‘You’ll love it — they’ve got the best pizzas in town.’ There it was again, that bold claim.
I flicked through the menu to the long list of artisan pizzas. Half of them were without tomato sauce, which I’ve never really understood. I ordered a custom ‘Quattro formaggi’ with tomato sauce, and my wife went for the ‘Del zio’, with toppings of ricotta cheese, porcini mushrooms, mozzarella and provolone picante cheese.
If the pizzas hadn’t been bigged-up so much in days leading up to our lunch, I might have been tempted by some of the other options on the menu. There were the typical starters of ‘Bruschetta Toscana’, ‘Mozzarella Caprese’, and various cured meats, hams and cheeses.
To follow, there were plenty of grilled meat and seafood dishes on the Chef’s Special and Main Course lists, alongside a range of pastas and soups. The desserts were inviting, too, particularly the Italian ice creams, cheese cake and dark chocolate mousse.
It took some time, but our pizzas eventually arrived, and I couldn’t wait to tuck in. I was hooked from the first slice. It was truly delicious. The texture, the crust, the cheese — it ticked all the boxes. And it got even better with a light drizzle of the chilli-infused olive oil I spotted on the table.
After soaking up the last bit of oil with my remaining slice, I wandered over to the Pizza House to chat to the chef. The man in charge was Chef Godfrey, who told me that the pizzas were handmade, using flour and tomato sauce both shipped in from Italy. He said it was mainly the vegetables that were sourced locally.
So if you’re in Nairobi and fancy treating yourself to a nice lunch, head over to Matteo’s for a pizza. It’s the best in town.
For booking, takeaways or deliveries, call 0110098333.