Pizza, pasta and more Italian food to try in Dubai
Time Out Dubai staff
Armani/Ristorante There’s always a great sense of occasion when visiting the Armani Hotel, and that’s heightened when visiting its signature restaurant – Armani/Ristorante. The interiors are what you’d expect from an Armani venue: clean, crisp and minimal. The real show-stopper, though, is the view if you can enjoy seated on the terrace. Could this be the best view of the Dubai Fountain from a restaurant? Quite possibly. As you would expect from a multiple award winning restaurant, the food is excellent. Every course is crafted to perfection, and service is suitably slick and professional for such a restaurant. Open daily 7pm-11.30pm Armani Hotel Dubai, Downtown Dubai (04 888 3444).
BiCE BiCE is a sophisticated restaurant. Tables are neat and clean, glasses clink and chatter between guests provides the backdrop within the large dining room. Staff are very pleasant and helpful, while the menu is reasonably clear and dishes are described simply. It’s a typically Italian way of doing things and is all the better for it. Try the buffalo mozzarella salad to start, the huge ball of milky cheese sits on a bed of expertly sliced tomatoes with a clean peppery olive oil complementing the dish. The crab cake on a bed of avocado tartar is cooked perfectly, crispy on the outside, with sweet, delicate crab inside. The green avocado looks great and is a great match. Pasta dishes are also excellent, a simple penne arrabbiata couldn’t be improved and the ricotta and spinach tortelli, with creamy white truffle sauce is rich, filling and delicious. There is also seafood and meat in the ‘secondi piatti’ section, all cooked well and accompanied with excellent ingredients and flavours. Bellissimo. Open Sat-Thu 12.30pm-11.30pm, Fri 1pm-11.30pm. Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort, The Walk, JBR (04 318 2520).
Cavalli Club, Restaurant & Lounge From the zebra print elevator to the sparkling chandeliers, everything about this venue is set out to dazzle. Inspired by the Italian designer with a penchant for flashy designs, you’ll see chairs clad in zebra print and crockery featuring monochromatic motifs. Dinner service starts from 9pm, and is limited to two hours, so it’s a good option for nightlife lovers who plan to spend the rest of the evening on the club’s illuminated dancefloor. The menu is a simple collection of modern Italian menu with a selection of risottos and pastas alongside some meat or fish main courses. Portions are very neatly presented; the burrata with tomatoes and basil arrives with two pipettes filled respectively with pesto sauce and balsamic vinegar to drizzle as required. Cavalli hits the mark for decor and ambience, providing its late-night patrons a simple and classy meal to start the night. Open Mon-Sat 9.30pm-3am (restaurant 9.30pm-11.30pm), Sun 9pm-3am (restaurant 9pm-11pm). Fairmont Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.dubai.cavalliclub.com (04 332-9260).
Medzo Understated, chic, cosy and feeling a little bit like someone’s living room, Medzo is certainly one of the city’s more elegant Italian eateries. Cream, peach and magnolia hues paired with warm, low lighting create an inviting ambience, and make the venue feel relaxed even despite a lack of diners and the buzz of conversation. In cooler months, the candlelit terrace offers a cute setting for a romantic date. Portions are generous, so skip the unimpressive bread basket and save room for the mains, which include the usual pasta and pizza suspects, as well as more carnivorous dishes, such as an enormous, melt-in-the mouth osso buco (braised veal shank) served atop saffron risotto, or seared wild sea bass, accompanied by a Provençal-style salsa. That said, starters are not to be skipped. The lobster tortellini – refined and resolutely Italian – is simultaneously tender and al dente, and sets the tone of the whole menu perfectly, while the beef carpaccio is a good bet if you’re looking to economise on stomach space. Open daily 12.30pm-3pm, 7.30pm-11.30pm. Wafi Pyramids, Oud Metha, www.pyramidsrestaurantsatwafi.com (04 324 4100).
Roberto’s Roberto’s stays away from the Italian clichés of chequered table clothes and Roman iconography on the walls. Instead, the venue is designed with classic elegance and simplicity. The tables are dressed with white linen table clothes and tiny tea light candles, creating a romantic setting after dark. The menu is divided into courses of antipasti, soups, pasta dishes and seafood-heavy main dishes. A simple and delicious way to start is with the burrata: a perfect combination of creamy mozzarella and tomatoes. Of the pasta dishes, the spaghetti carbonara with wagyu beef bacon is mouth-wateringly good, though the classic fettucini bolognese isn’t quite as exciting. Between the trendy location and views of Dubai’s skyline, chic setting and overall well-executed menu, Roberto’s is a good spot for a lively dinner out. Open daily noon-3pm, 7pm-midnight (lounge open noon-2am). Gate Village, DIFC, www.robertos.ae (04 386 0066). Business lunch: Dhs119 (two courses). Daily noon-3pm. Brunch: Dhs360 (with soft drinks), Dhs425 (with grape), Dhs495 (with premium beverages). Fri 12.30pm-4.30pm.
Ronda Locatelli Located in the sprawling Atlantis resort, Ronda Locatelli gets a lot right. First of all, the place is huge – ideal for big families with plenty of space for kids to move around should they get bored at the dinner table. Secondly, their pizza menu is vast – again, ideal for those with fussy little ones in tow. Finally, the warm red decor, central pizza kitchen and giant domed oven creates a cosy atmosphere with a bit of culinary entertainment while you wait to be served. Service is friendly and fast here, while the bill will end up looking reasonable in comparison to other Palm-based restaurants. Open Sat-Wed noon-3pm (lunch), 3pm-5pm (afternoon menu), 6pm-10.30pm (dinner); Thu-Fri noon-3pm, 3pm-5pm, 6pm-11.30pm. AtlantisThe Palm, Palm Jumeirah, www.atlantisthepalm.com (04 426 2626).
Segreto Nestled in the heart of the Madinat Jumeirah, Segreto is a place that gives off that distinct air of being somewhere special from the moment you arrive. Descend the staircase and confirm your reservation (this place is always busy) and you’ll instantly be presented with a cold towel which sets the service tone for the rest of the evening. If the weather is nice, we recommend dining al fresco, where you get stunning views of the abras meandering along the Madinat waterways. If it's a bit hot, don't despair – the inside is only a smidgen less romantic. Begin with the bruschetta al pomodoro for a delicious start to the meal and follow it with one of their tasty pasta dishes, guaranteed to be cooked to perfection. If you’re in the mood for something less classically Italian, try the gamberoni for decidedly meaty king prawns seasoned with a tangy citrus dressing. When it comes to desert, you can’t go far wrong with the tiramisu, which has a delicious bittersweet aftertaste. Open daily 6.30pm-11.30pm. Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim. www.jumeirah.com (04 366 888).
Sicilia Specialising in Sicilian-style eats, the restaurant may be intimate, but it serves up generous plates of creative, authentic pasta, risotto and much more besides. Start light with delicate slices of carpaccio to save room for one of the hearty pizzas or daily specials (which, in the past, have included a particularly impressive baby squid ink risotto). Adventurous palates should try the pizza marinara with fresh spicy sardines, which is lavishly dressed with tomato sauce, plump black olives, chilli, sweet cherry tomatoes, creamy blobs of burrata and thick fillets of marinated sardines, with a bitey acidic tang. Sicilia is a real gem. Open daily 12.30pm-2.30pm, 7pm-11pm. Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate Dubai, The Gardens (04 444 0000).
Social by Heinz Beck With his restaurant La Pergola in Rome awarded three Michelin stars for its modern vision of Italian cooking, Heinz Beck is among the most renowned chefs in the world. Launched in the Waldorf Astoria on the Palm, Social by Heinz Beck brings to Dubai what the chef himself terms a ‘deformalised’ yet still fine taste of his cooking style. His Dubai venue is decorated in sophisticated, fine dining tones, with a slightly masculine and slick New York edge of dark wood, glass and cosy cushioned seating in soft grey tones. The menu is varied, but not too long and dishes sound creative yet not overblown. Staff tend to be reasonably friendly, and are able to offer explanations of what dishes are or how they are prepared. An evening at Social by Heinz Beck is certainly an enjoyable experience, and offers some of the finer touches offered by Dubai’s most innovative restaurants. Open daily 7pm-midnight. Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah (04 818 2222).
Splendido You expect a certain degree of sophistication from the Italian restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton and Splendido doesn’t disappoint. The chic New York-style décor, smooth soundtrack and understated elegance are all there. But it is when Splendido lets its guard down and acts a little less stuffy that the charm appears. Be guided out onto the outdoor terrace by some of the most casual and warm waiters we’ve met in Dubai and enjoy the alfresco setting with palm trees and sea views. The food is modern Italian with as much emphasis on presentation as piling high sauces and flavours. A breaded swordfish dish is not a Dubai staple and deserves a look, as do the handful of meat dishes including a beef tenderloin with foie gras or roasted duck breast with chickpea croquette and truffle honey. By night this is a romantic restaurant but visit in the day for a lazy, afternoon in the sun. Open daily 6.30pm-11pm. Ritz-Carlton Dubai, Jumeirah Beach Residence (04 399 4000).