Armani/Ristorante

The Armani Hotel’s signature restaurant serves up mixed results 20 Reviews

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A clothing line tells you how a designer likes his women: look to the cut, the colours, the shape and you can ascertain pretty quickly whether he’s a Marilyn or an Audrey man. A restaurant, however, gives you a more well-rounded view of his tastes. The Cavalli Club, for instance, is the classic case of style over substance; a quick gander at the menu tells you you’re dealing with someone who’d rather pay for an expensive meal than eat one.

Giorgio Armani has a different sort of reputation. He is known for a clean, classical, even minimalist look. He loves neutrals, and his eye for detail is so extreme one gets the sense he’s probably rather picky. In other words, he is the anti-Cavalli.

Given the fanfare surrounding the Armani Hotel – Giorgio’s first foray into the world of hospitality, and the first F&B outlets to grace the iconic Burj Khalifa – you’d expect the exacting man would have ironed out even the slightest crinkle before the opening. The staff certainly seemed on high alert. The army of impeccably dressed men and women that met me at the door were almost aggressively gentle, offering cooing welcomes before gliding me in a whisper towards the establishment’s signature restaurant. They clearly didn’t underestimate the significance of this launch.

Despite the coddling warmth of the hostess who brought me to my table, I entered Ristorante in a bit of a panic. My taxi dropped me off on the wrong side of the building, and having to walk to the correct entrance made me 30 minutes late. My date, an interior designer, didn’t mind; our waiter took the edge off by engaging him in conversation, then discreetly disappearing when I finally arrived. He’d had ample time to dissect the interior and was unimpressed by the beige/oatmeal colour scheme, the clinical Armani/Casa furnishings and the draped Roman blinds that blocked half the windows, destroying what should have been one of the best views in Dubai. ‘It’s so ’80s, but not in a good way,’ he commented. ‘It’s naff ’80s, not retro ’80s.’

For a fine-dining restaurant, this was a remarkably unstriking room. The lighting was a touch too bright to make it a romantic spot, though the prestige of the place ensured it was filled with couples. At a neighbouring table, a Rod Stewart lookalike in a sparkly blue blazer was trying to impress a woman half his age. ‘He must be big in Japan,’ my companion chipped in.

The menu was upscale Italian, mixing Tuscan grandmother-spun classics with a handful of more modern innovations. Pastas – the restaurant’s speciality – were hand-made and hand rolled, so I decided to start my meal with a buckwheat casarecce (short, twisted noodles). Pasta isn’t traditionally the most exciting thing on a menu, but here it was: the dish included the creamiest ricotta I’ve ever experienced, accented with nothing more than spinach, cherry tomatoes and breadcrumbs. This unassuming combination mingled to make magic; though there were only a handful of ingredients involved, each was so fresh it screamed.

My date’s veal was much more reserved: these ingredients merely coughed. A small bruschetta came topped with sliced veal liver and was served with a side of mushrooms and truffle. The whole thing possessed an understated earthiness that was pleasant, but nothing compared to some other offerings on the menu.

Main courses were a letdown. The skin on my wild sea bass was so over-salted that I had to peel it off to make it edible. My date’s veal tenderloin was dry, overcooked and served alongside a particularly robust (read: overpowering) pea purée.

The meal got back on track with desserts, as we debated which of us had scored the winning combo. His nougat semifreddo – sandwiched between two crisp sheets of white chocolate and drizzled with raspberry sauce – may have come up trumps on presentation, but I found my pear mille feuille more delectable. Made with ultra-thin wafers, soft poached pears and a gentle scoop of milk chocolate ice cream, my dessert contained a multitude of flavours that married beautifully. By comparison, I found my date’s dessert a little too single-note (and a raspberry note at that).

Ristorante is strange; it serves some of the most memorable dishes in town, as well as some of the most disappointing. The mistakes made by the kitchen also seemed far too rookie for a restaurant of this calibre (and price bracket). There is limitless potential – and I don’t doubt that the pastas on offer are some of the best in Dubai – but overall, Ristorante really needs to smooth out these mistakes to live up to the Armani name.

The bill (for two)
1x Veal bruschetta Dhs90
1x Casarecce Dhs80
1x Sea bass Dhs205
1x Veal tenderloin Dhs235
1x Semifreddo Dhs60
1x Mille feuille Dhs60
Total (including 10 per cent service) Dhs730

By Daisy Carrington
Time Out Dubai,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.

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User reviews

ValueAmbienceService
DecorFoodOverall
  • Users voted this restaurant most suitable for: Business lunch

User reviews:

Posted by: vivette on 10 Mar ' 13 at 12:43
OverallDecorService
FoodAmbienceValue
  • Best for: Business lunch
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

this is a real super stupidly designed restaurant!!
the tables are only for 5 people so we were 8 for a business lunch and we had to divide 4 and 4 in another table....what kind of business lunch can that be???

the food was overpriced, the portions minimal, and the cusine too fussy to be really italian, we were not at all impressed .>>>>

a bad experience in all and we will definatly bring our business somewhere else....

Posted by: Daniela on 03 May ' 12 at 11:39
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  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Excellent Italian food.
If you want to go for a dessert at the end of your meal pick The Sphere!
It'll not only please your palate but also your sight, it's an incredible work of
pastry making!

Posted by: Simon in Dubai on 03 Sep ' 11 at 14:37
OverallDecorService
FoodAmbienceValue
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

We went as a couple just before Eid. The experience was a let down which is a real shame as we were expecting something special - irst impressions were good.
First course was fine and the saffron risotto was quite good...we thought it was all going well...although we were trying to ignore the irritating service ...either they were all over you or no one was attending ...being within range but strangely not aware that you needed a glass filled etc.
Anyway, it really went down hill when our main courses arrived - the fish was rubbery ! the skin was soft and should have been crisp...seems like it was sitting under a hot lamp or something...my dish was also over cooked...clearly the chef was NOT checking these dishes as he was wandering around other tables most of the evening chatting with people ...then he came to ours and we told him "we were slightly disppointed" (trying to be polite)...he just said this is what it should be like...I was astounded ..and that's when we got up and left...
I can only suggest people avoid this place unless they want to waste a couple of thousand dirhams... spend your money elsewhere ....I can only hope Armani sort it out and get a new chef in who can cook consistently good standard dishes

Posted by: Luca Botti on 20 Jul ' 11 at 16:06
OverallDecorService
FoodAmbienceValue
  • Best for: Romantic
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

the best one ever

Posted by: Roberto Bassi on 20 Jul ' 11 at 16:04

whatever they said, stills the best one

Posted by: Sandro on 02 Jun ' 11 at 11:32
OverallDecorService
FoodAmbienceValue
  • Best for: Business lunch
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

Ciao ITALIANTASTE,

in regards to your comment, BICE is way better than Armani Ristorante. Eventhough Roberto left, the food is very good.
If you want a relativley good Pizza, try Fratelli La Bufala, it is a bit out of town and almost always empty, but WE ITALIAN would go that far to eat good food.

Tanti saluti,

and hope Armani will improve now that Marc Dardenne left Emaar!!!

Posted by: Italiantaste on 26 May ' 11 at 08:50
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FoodAmbienceValue
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

I'm reading the comments from italians, like me, and I'm wondering which it should be the best italian reastaurant, in their opinion.
I'm still looking for a good pizza, I was really disappointed from the so acclaimed Bice (no comparison with the one in Milan) and wouldn't recommend to friends except for Pastas (main courses are terrible and it's not cheap at all!!).
That's why I don't understand all this critics to Armani Ristorante: atmosphere is good, the menu maybe doesn't offer many options, but the quality of ingredients is high (not so common here). Ok, the price is high but it's plenty of restaurants out there where you spend scandalous amount of money and the food is really terrible (Verre, for example). Anyway, I went there twice, this is my personal opinion for the moment. Meanwhile, wating for other valuable suggesttions.

Posted by: Renzo Fiorello on 15 May ' 11 at 09:22
OverallDecorService
FoodAmbienceValue
  • Best for: Business lunch
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

Ciao,

I agree with Diego, you are absolutely right!!! This is not a good Italian restaurant. Sorry, but there are many better once in Dubai.
I will not go back.

Tanti Saluti,

Renzo

Posted by: Diego Negroni on 09 May ' 11 at 05:46
OverallDecorService
FoodAmbienceValue
  • Best for: Business lunch
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

DOES NOBODY NOTICE THAT ALL ITALIANS GIVING THEIR COMMENTS WOULD NOT COME BACK TO ARMANI RISTORANTE!!!!

I believe this should make you think!!!!

The food is boring, price is high and the service very bad. I was very disappointed!

I would for sure not recommend this restaurant to my Italian or non-Italian friends.

Giorgio Armani should stick to clothing, that's what he is doing best. Don't outsource any restaurants to EMAAR, didn't they just make Chef Viktor "redundant"!!! From here on it is going down.

Ciao Diego

Posted by: John on 17 Apr ' 11 at 09:53
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FoodAmbienceValue
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

The best Italian food in Dubai.

(It's the same team who used to work at Quatro, which was previously the best Italian in the city - even Time Out agreed on that one)

Posted by: Pietro Rossi on 20 Feb ' 11 at 07:56
OverallDecorService
FoodAmbienceValue
  • Best for: Business lunch
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

One question to "DUBAI LOVER", are you working for Armani (Emaar) or are you really so blind? The food is deffenetly not the best Italian in Town and the service is very unattentive and slow. the atmosphere is blund and boring. Where do you usually dine, and what are comparing this restaurant to???

It is not worth the money.

Ciao Pietro

Posted by: Smn80 on 18 Feb ' 11 at 16:35
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FoodAmbienceValue
  • Best for: Romantic
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Great atmosphere and excellent food, the only flaw was the service . In an Italian restaurant there is expected Italian waiters and with a little knowledge of Italian cuisine.

Posted by: Leonardo Baldesci on 16 Feb ' 11 at 08:50
OverallDecorService
FoodAmbienceValue
  • Best for: Business lunch
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

I agree with Roberto Roggeri (see above) and he must know as he worked for BICE in Dubai, probably the best Italian restaurant in town, well, until he left!!!

The food at "Ristorante" is okay. Nothing overwealming. No feeling of being in Italy. Not that I would expect Pizza on the menu, but good Italian food can be very different than what is served there.

The "service" is really very poor. Even after so many months they have opened. Unattentive and slow, eventhough the restaurant was almost empty.

I believe they missed the point of modern, up to date service expectations.

Even Giorgio (Armani) himself said that the design is outdated. I fully agree.

Improve the service and think back to good old times :) (e.g. Bice or Splendido) You got the hint!!!

Regards,

Leonardo Baldesci

Posted by: Mark Astor on 17 Jan ' 11 at 08:20
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FoodAmbienceValue
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

The best Italian restaurant in Dubai.

Posted by: dave on 22 Dec ' 10 at 18:04

Nice restaurant a lit bit too bright.The food was OK but the service was really disappointing, specially on the side of lady who called herself SOMMELIER. didn't know the difference premier cru, grand cru eccet...
When I asked for racomandations as I was with a guest I would expected in Italian restaurant very good knowledge of the Italian wines at least...but she didn't know the grape variety as lack of knowledge between the regions..shame....

Posted by: Deborah Pearmain on 03 Nov ' 10 at 18:59
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

I visited with 3 friends for the first time yesterday and the food was amazing! A little pricey but well worth it, both the starters and main courses had the perfect touches of flavour.

All four of us had totally empty plates after the main course, I will be going back soon for sure.

Posted by: Roberto Roggeri on 01 Nov ' 10 at 07:23
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FoodAmbienceValue
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

The food is good, but the ambiance is very very cold and certainly not "up to date". I would have expected much more. Besides that, the service seemed very slow and unattentive.
I believe it still need improvement.

Posted by: T.A. on 25 Oct ' 10 at 13:10
OverallDecorService
FoodAmbienceValue
  • Best for: Romantic
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

I expected a dress code in The finest restaurant of a classy hotel, but what a disapointment was, when next to us were seated emiratis wearing t-shirts and slippers!...

Posted by: kkat777 on 27 Jun ' 10 at 06:19
OverallDecorService
FoodAmbienceValue
  • Best for: Business lunch
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Edited by TimeOutDubai.com

I was very excited to visit Armani's RISTRORANTE. Knowing Chef Emiliano's reputation at Quattro and how he was able to entice us all with that fabulous Italian restaurant. I visited the restaurant with 4 of my friends for dinner and was very happy that the food was truly Italian. The Saffron osso bucco was perfectly seasoned and gorgeous, the lobster was to die for. I did not even want to cut into my lobster dish afraid that I might miss just looking at it. The pasta was good... I had the rabbit parpadelle and was sad to see that I missed the bits of rabbit that were very scarce on my plate however my friend had benefited from the uneven division og our dishes being cooked at the same time. In addition to the lack of rabbit... they had alosk forgotten to share with me the gorgeous olives that were mentioned in the menu. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the prices of the wines and champagne were increditble reasonable. Albeit there were a couple of out of stock situations... however the wine list looked very niche and a lot of them were small italian producers which I am very excited to try the next time I am at Ristorante. Only drawbacks was the service. ;( which could have been due to the recent opening and the popularity of the restaurant. I believe the managers should pay more attention to training their staff with all the little details that results in a more memorable experience for its guests. Also - will someone please dim the lights down at night !? I believe the restaurant would do perfectly with dimmed lights for those romantic moments. i will be back.

Posted by: dubai lover on 12 Jun ' 10 at 16:00
OverallDecorService
FoodAmbienceValue
  • Best for: Romantic
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

I believe that this is the best italian restaurant in town without any doubt. the cuisine is exceptional.
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