5 MINUTES WITH: Peter Samaha, Founder of Pizza Di Rocco

Peter Samaha of Pizza Di Rocco

Spend some time with Peter Samaha, the founder of homegrown pizza sensation Pizza Di Rocco

Throwing pizza was not in Peter Samaha’s original life plan but we can all be grateful that he changed plans and opened Pizza Di Rocco.

Since then, the eatery has become one of Abu Dhabi’s favourite (including ours!) and continued to deliver what can only be described as slices of heaven. Check out our favourite pizzas right here.

And meanwhile, let Peter Samaha take you through his life in the capital.


Tell us a little bit about yourself


My name is Peter Samaha, 43 years old, resident of Abu Dhabi since 2005 (almost 19 years). I’m an entrepreneur in the F&B industry – over the past 10 years I have developed Pizza Di Rocco, Gino’s Deli, Pasta Della Nonna, as well as being a partner is La Patrona, Barbossa (formerly La Carnita) and Craft by Side Hustle, the UAE’s first micro brewery.


How and when did you move here, and what inspired the move


My father has been in Abu Dhabi since 1970, so Abu Dhabi has always been familiar to me. Although I grew up in the UK, I came back to Abu Dhabi in 2005 on a holiday to see my Dad and ended up staying here ever since!


How has living in Abu Dhabi shaped your sense of belonging and community?


I think I was lucky enough to witness a great period of development for Abu Dhabi, and watch it emerge as a world-renowned city.

What is charming about Abu Dhabi is that although the global profile of Abu Dhabi has changed a lot in that time, and the city has grown and developed, there is a definitely a great sense of a ‘village’ community that has endured.

It mixes a bit of the older with the new, and I think that gives Abu Dhabi its unique character and attracts a lot of people to stay and build their lives here. This further contributes to the ‘community’ feel – something that has ultimately attracted me, my family, my brothers and my parents all to move and live in Abu Dhabi!


Can you tell us about a particular person in Abu Dhabi who has had a significant impact on your life and why?


I know it’s a relation, so it will naturally have an impact! But I would say my father – because he came to Abu Dhabi very early on in his life and career and made it a part of our lives, as well as making us believe that it’s the perfect place to build a family and business.

What is your favourite thing about the emirate and why?


It’s a combination of the sense of opportunity – through continuous development and striving to improve – somehow mixed with a very appealing lifestyle, and particular pace and vibe.

Although it is an international city with many nationalities and is constantly evolving, it always retains a unique charm, a relaxed vibe and a sense of family and community that is very warming


A myth about Abu Dhabi that you would like to bust


That it is quiet! There is a lot happening if you know where to look, and part of the excitement of a city is discovering the genuine places, the ‘holes in the wall’, the authentic experiences that you might not know about and going ‘off the beaten track’ a bit, as well as the established, exciting attractions.


Could you share a memorable moment when you felt the genuine warmth and hospitality of the Abu Dhabi community in your own life?


I think this is something we continue to feel, from time to time, sometimes with small things, like the classic hospitality of being offered coffee and dates, and sometimes with bigger acts of kindness or generosity, where people are very willing to help others.

This has happened to me at least twice, whether someone stopping to help change a tyre on the side of the road in the middle of summer, or someone helping to get our car unstuck in the desert! Random acts of kindness that embody the warmth of Abu Dhabi.


Follow Yalla – Abu Dhabi Life for all the latest news across the capital and beyond

Image source Peter Samaha

Read more

Sign up to our Yallagram for a chance to win a shopping voucher worth AED 200 every month

(Terms & conditions apply)