Time Out searches for Dubai’s best Italian restaurants. So if it's pizza or pasta you're after, here's where to start
Quattro: The Four Seasons Golf Club's Italian fine dining restaurant is beginning to get busier as people hear about the gastronomic delights on offer. The food, be it tantalising amuse bouche, crunchy asparagus starters or market-fresh seafood stews, is first rate. Keep room for dessert because the thousand flower honey cheesecake with orange nougat and chamomile sauce is a delight. The food, combined with an atmospheric setting, (both inside and out) make Quattro is a restaurant worth savouring from every vantage point. A worthy winner of Time Out’s Italian restaurant of the Year award for 2008.
Certo: Some of the world's most enduring art has been forged in an atmosphere of creative tension – a tradition that underpins the consistently sterling output of the kitchen at Certo. With a Milanese manager and a chef from the southern state of Puglia rumoured to be in healthy conflict over the best way to cook dishes such as Ossobuco, you can be sure that your meal here will be fired with a spirit of obsessive perfectionism sadly absent from some of Dubai's Italian restaurants.
Bice: Restaurants come and go, but Wafi's Italian restaurant has remained a firm fixture on Dubai's dining scene. Step inside the modern, understated entrance and it's not hard to see why. The interior is hugely appealing; think cool monochrome prints, soft leather chairs and billowing white tablecloths. As for the food, diners get to choose from a selection of elegant, uncomplicated Italian dishes, all of which are beautifully presented. Rather than being flash or gimmicky, it's stylish, reliable and reasonably priced – and this is the secret to the restaurant's longevity.
Bice: Bice utterly oozes Italian sophistication. Inspired by Beatrice (‘Bice' to her friends) Ruggini's 1926 family kitchen, the brand has spread the ‘cucina' love across the globe and now boasts locations everywhere from New York, Milan and Tokyo to Dubai. An impressively grand interior is matched by an impressive menu which bucks the Italian trend by offering more starters than pasta, and more meat dishes than pizzas. The food in Beatrice's extremely stylish kitchen is irresistible and your senses will be rewarded for making the trip.
Bussola: With the ocean-side setting and laid-back ambience, you can see why this Italian restaurant is so popular. The al fresco upstairs is the pizzeria, the indoor downstairs is a la carte dining and slightly more difficult to get into. You may have to linger at the bar and enjoy a cocktail for a while until the table is ready. Go for the baby chicken as a main course. Soft and tender with a citrus kick in the middle it is one of the menu's highlights. Prices aren't too bad either, considering the seaside setting.
Focaccia: Don't let the faux Italian décor put you off, the food is as authentic as it comes, with freshly made pastas and breads all reassuringly prepared by the hands of a Milanese chef. Ask for a table on the terrace and you'll be treated to views of the creek. The menu is a melting pot of all the great stuff Italy has to offer, with a range of pastas, meats and fish dishes to risottos and soups all well executed and with a modern twist.
Vivaldi: Vivaldi offers fine Italian cuisine that surpasses the high-water mark practically every time. Starters such as the carpaccio di manzo offer delicate flavours with tangy bursts of flavour. Mains are equally enthralling and imaginative with tenderloin beef with foie gras and lamb and pear compote also proving popular with Time Out. Finish with a giant slice of tiramisu (white chocolate, fresh strawberries and a pot of creamy sauce) and you'll be given extra cause to congratulate yourself for plumping for Vivaldi instead of its more vaunted competitors.
Frankie’s: Take one volatile genius of a chef (Marco Pierre White) and introduce him to a wildly charismatic business associate (Frankie Dettori) and the results are always going to be remarkable. Thankfully, as far as Frankie’s is concerned this is a match made in culinary heaven. Still a relative newcomer to the Dubai restaurant scene this is not the pair’s only business venture. They perfected the art at a restaurant in London before coming to Dubai. This, though, is the fine dining leg of the business and you can expect to sample dishes from the premium end of the spectrum.
Andiamo!: A superior option if you’re looking for an Italian-tinged brunch this Grand Hyatt restaurant serves up simple and fresh Italian food. From pizzas baked in the huge stone ovens to freshly rolled out pasta the emphasis is on doing the basics well: to a demanding brunch crowd. A massive antipasta selection and groaning dessert table add to the feast. Make sure to stroll around the gardens after drinking coffee to settle your meal in pleasant style.
Segreto: From the candlelit stairwell to the muted lighting and clean dark wood finishing, the decor at Segreto is a cut above the clichéd Italian restaurants of old. Fine dining is paramount here, and with a mammoth global wine selection this is definitely a venue for first-date impressing. For mains, the Barolo braised beef short rib, truffle potato gnocchi and sautéed root vegetables is excellent; the beef melting in the mouth and the truffle gnocchi the highlight of the entire meal. The chef’s recommendation of baby chicken stuffed with feta cheese and prosciutto in a sundried tomato jus is also a winner.