Whenever Saturday comes along my family and I know we are in for a treat, literally, because it’s treat day and we eat what we want. It’s when we give in to our cravings and weaknesses, and just let things go. It’s a big deal for us, usually we like to maintain strict diets, so when you only have one day to let loose you want to make sure you get it right and it leaves you satisfied for the rest of the week.

For a while my wife had been telling me to visit a little restaurant at the end of Muroor Street called Goodies Pizza Cafe. She had already been several times and wouldn’t stop talking about it. Maybe it’s the way she described it that made me hesitant, “An Afghani restaurant with an Emirati twist, which also sells pizzas, burgers, and cakes”. That’s a lot to digest (pun intended). Experience has usually directed me to the restaurants that specialize, where a pizza restaurant focuses on pizza, rather than spreading themselves too thin. In a lot of cases quality takes a hit.

So in the spirit of trying new things the family and I spent treat night at Goodies Pizza Café. Here is our experience.

The Setting


When you first walk into Goodies it is sort of humbling, the place is pretty small I counted around 10 tables. It is designed in your usual new age, hip, restaurant/cafe with lots of fun decorations, a big blackboard with all their specials over the counter, colorful chairs, and an open kitchen. The place was packed, literally full with not one table empty which I usually see as a sign that things must be good.

I couldn’t put my finger on what ages a place like this would target. If you notice the crowd at “Salt” it is usually the younger crowds that seem to flock there. While I would say about 80 % of the crowd were young, there were a few families that seemed to be enjoying the ambience and energy just as much.

The Menu

At first glance the menu is pretty overwhelming. Goodies sell salads, sandwiches, pizzas, traditional Afghani cuisine, pasta, burgers, international entrees, and what seemed like every food under the sun. It took me a while to decide what I wanted so I asked the waiter for the most popular starter and main course.

He suggested the dynamite shrimp to start, and the pizza for a main course. I glanced around the restaurant and pretty much saw a pizza on every table so I felt that it was a safe bet. The thing I loved is that they offered half/half pizzas so it allowed me to try two different toppings; I went for the Chips Oman (which everyone seems to be posting on Instagram), and the buffalo chicken, which is a personal favorite.

What I didn’t like:

The Price

Similar to Salt this local food start is pretty expensive, and it put a sour taste in my mouth right from the get go. I mean the place was pretty small, not located in a fancy hotel or mall, so it’s hard to justify the excessive prices. Having said that this is one man’s opinion and I am not aware of the logistics or produce that goes in to their food, although nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Here were our orders to give you an idea.

Salama (My wife)

  • Grilled Chicken Burger – 39 Dirhams
  • Lemon Mint – 35 Dirhams

Khalifa and Abdullah (The kids)

  • Mini Chicken Burgers with Fries (2 Pieces) – 39 Dirhams
  • Coke: 12 Dirhams

Me

  • Pizza – 75 Dirhams
  • Dynamite shrimp – 79 Dirhams (What?!?)
  • Rose Milkshake – 35 Dirhams (Shared with my wife)
  • Passion Fruit Mojito – 35 Dirhams

Dessert:

  • Kunafa: 35 Dirhams

So there is no two ways about it, the prices here are expensive, very expensive. I mean when you are selling a can of coke for 12 Dirhams, which they were, you can only imagine how much the food is going to cost. I did a little comparing of the different restaurants around the UAE that offer similar food and here are some of the prices that they sell at.
Pizza:

  • Pizza Hut Pizza: 44 Dirhams for largest pizza
  • Pappa Murphy’s: 57 Dirhams for largest pizza
  • Vapiano: 55 Dirhams for most expensive pizza
  • Spaccanapoli (Home of meter long pizza) – 75 Dirhams

Dynamite Shrimp:

  • PF Changs: 47 Dirhams (You can see why it seemed expensive, Goodies sells at almost double)

Now here is where things went different from the Salt experience. While Salt is expensive, their portions are smaller than the average of its competition. Goodies on the other hand had much larger portions that definitely felt you were getting more for your money. However not any more than you would get in another restaurant while paying much less.

The Space

Overall the restaurant was pretty small and things seemed a little cramped. They did have one booth that my family and I sat it in which was pretty comfortable, but the other tables and chairs were not. It was mainly metal or wood like chairs and small square tables which gave off a vibe that they wanted you to eat quickly rather than take your time and enjoy your meal. The tables didn’t seem to be the right size for the food they were serving since most of the pizzas took over a lot of the table. If you were four on a table you might have enough space for only two meals comfortably, which seemed a little odd.

Overall Goodies was clean, and I noticed the staff regularly cleaning up the tables, maybe because the space is small and is filled with all the ornaments and tables it gives off a stuffy feeling and could make the space more prone to dust and dirt.

What I liked

The Food, All Of It

There is only one restaurant I visit in Abu Dhabi where I can confidently tell someone to order anything and it will be good, and that’s Zuma. For me personally, Goodies, is now the second place I would offer the same recommendation. Everything was delicious, so rich in flavor, and the quality of the ingredients were just right.

The pizza was cooked to perfection; I have to admit I was pretty scared of what potato chips and cream cheese would taste like on a pizza but they made it work. The used cream cheese which tasted like Kraft on the based, and sprinkled pizza cheese and Oman potato chips on top. It was actually kind of magical and took me way back to the days of chips Oman cheese sandwiches from our local grocer.

For the rest of the food, the fries had that perfect crisp (Salt could learn a thing or two from them). My kids ate all their burgers, if you have kids then you know how much that means. The dynamite shrimp had the perfection amount of sauce and batter and the rose milkshake felt like a garden of roses were blooming in my mouth.

The portion sizes were healthy and would definitely give you your fill, I ate 3 slices of pizza, and had about four left over. As I was eating I sort of felt like the high amount I was paying was worth it, and that is probably the difference it made for me when the bill came, you felt like you got what you paid for.

The only part the didn’t go well for me was the Kunafa, it just didn’t taste right. There was way too much creamy cheese which didn’t go well with the flaky top. I come back to my earlier point that when you are trying to do too much and offer so many different dishes it is hard to maintain the quality.

However similar to the pizza I saw Kinder Pancakes flying from table to table, which told me that this was their number one dessert, maybe I should have gone with that, then again diabetes is a real thing.

Speaking about health it is important to note that Goodies isn’t a place if you are looking for a healthy meal, but I don’t think it is supposed to be. Sure they have salads, but what looks like their top sellers are the deep-fried, high carb, sugar infused plates of comfort food. It is important to be aware that you are going there for a treat, everything I had was delicious, but I will be doing a double work out today to burn it off.

Note: The management noted that the Afghani food is actually their specialty, more so than the pizza, so will definitely be giving that a try next time.

The Service

The service at Goodies was great, they were friendly when we arrived and quick to get us settled in. Another thing I enjoyed was how they regularly checked in to make sure things were going well. What they also did differently than other restaurants was let us know how long the food was going to take and give us an update. This helps prevent the awkward stares that happen between you and the waiter when your order seems to be taking a while and you start to wonder which planet they are bringing it from.

What I didn’t like was their uniforms, the staff all had this strange hat on with a kitchen robe similar to what my mom used to wear when she made us lunch about 20 years ago. It seemed out-of-place with a restaurant that was looking to be young and hip. I can see that it is part of necessary hygiene for them to be wearing robes, but that hats looked pretty unnecessary.

All in all we felt welcome the whole time, it was only the seating that made things feel rushed. If the tables and chairs were as comforting and welcoming as their service it would feel just right.

The Management

There is nothing I love more when visiting a restaurant and seeing active managers, there was an Afghani mother and daughter working throughout the night, I am not sure if they were the owners but definitely some sort of management. The mother worked in the kitchen, and the daughter worked out front in the cashier. They were super friendly and brought a strong family feel to the restaurant. One thing I loved was how open they were to feedback and incorporating that feedback into their dishes.

I feel with a lot of restaurants around the UAE owners and managers can make such a difference to the experience by making customers feel welcome, respected, and valued. The management at Goodies certainly gave my family and I that feeling by asking us how our meal was, what they could improve on and what we didn’t like. On that note alone I am willing to go back just to see how things have improved.

Overall my family and I had an awesome time at Goodies. One thing I did notice was everyone that came and went were UAE nationals, so I would highly recommend the expat community to give this place a try if you are looking for a taste of fusion that doesn’t make sense in a perfect way.

To me it’s the perfect place to go when you don’t know what to eat, that’s how I define comfort food. All their food is full of flavor. Although some might find it too rich, I felt that they took their food just before the point of being too sweet or too spicy and stopped right there. To me it felt perfectly comfortable. I certainly hope they make some improvements to the overall layout of the place, or maybe even move to somewhere a bit bigger, they certainly have the customers for it and I think it would make all the difference.

Personally, I want to thank Goodies for making my treat day count, I have no regrets. See you next Saturday.