Beirut's Undiscovered Pizza Genius: Hassan Akkary
My husband and I have a favorite pizza hotspot in Beirut. This pizza is crafted with love, passion, and generousness of heart and is more gourmet than it is fast food. It boasts fresh toppings, delicious flavor combinations, and constant reinvention. Who’s behind it?
|Heart-shaped pizza in time for Valentine's Day
Meet second-to-none pizzaiolo Hassan Akkary at TSC Signature, the man in the white toque whose smile alone will sway you to try his edible wonders.
|Pizzaiolo Hassan Akkary at TSC Signature in Beirut Souks
Hassan has put in the hours kneading, curing, twirling, and slathering dough at a variety of reputable institutions: first, Aliacci in Gemmayze, then the swanky La Posta in Achrafieh, and more recently, Dottore in Hamra. At TSC Signature, where he has manned the wood-fired oven for several years, you can find him on almost any given afternoon after 3 pm. His grin is sanguine and contagious, and his movements behind the counter in black sabots are effortless.
Plant yourself on the pizza barstool, and allow Hassan to treat you to one of his specialties. Don’t even reach for the menu or bother leafing through its offerings—his creations are not in print, their blueprints only etched loosely in his mind.
Hassan crafts a breathtaking Seafood Cocktail number that comes chockfull of fruits de mer—calamari, baby shrimp and mussels—marinated in olive oil and swimming on a bed of rich tomato sauce and grated mozzarella. He shuffles the pie into the oven for a minute or two, and when it emerges, he layers atop fresh smoked salmon, a bouquet of rocket leaves and crumbed goat cheese with a handful of capers to boot. It is exquisite.
More recently he’s developed a unique pizza that draws as its sauce both tomato and pesto. Hassan blankets it with heaps of mozzarella, lightly-fried slices of eggplant, white onion ringlets, and cherry tomatoes. As if that weren’t enough, he adorns it with crumbled feta, sun-dried tomato, fresh rosemary and a dash of truffle oil after it has finished baking. A veritable work of art, the pizza will have you wrestling with your inner aesthetic as to whether you should wolf it down or sit and admire it.
|Eggplant, onions, cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, rosemary, goat cheese and truffle oil
|Eggplant, etc., up close
Hassan’s character pulls you in as readily and warmly as his delectable pizza. He is a jovial soul, perpetually cheerful and chatty. Married with three young sons, he says their happiness and prosperity are always at the fore of his mind. Asked whether they enjoy his pizzas, Hassan unabashedly confesses that at home, his wife reigns over the kitchen, and he is a blessed man for it. After all, we each deserve to be on the receiving end of the royal treatment from time to time, no?
Pass by TSC Signature for one of Beirut’s best pizzas, and prepare to be amazed! Mention my name, and Hassan will dote on you even more :)
|Pictured here, Hassan bakes a lovely spread of savory pastries
including Lebanese favorites manakish bi zaatar and sambousik
An altered version of this article appears on Beirut.com here.