Roberto’s big Italian brunch in Dubai reviewed

A lot of class and some brilliant seafood at this Dubai favourite

1/2

DETAILS: Dhs350 (soft drinks), Dhs450 (house beverages), Dhs550 (sparkling and premium beverages), Dhs80 (supplement for bubbly). Fri noon-4pm. Gate Village 1, DIFC (04 386 0066).

We’re big fans of Roberto’s here at Time Out, the cooking is excellent, the ingredients are top notch and the atmosphere is buzzing. Already one of our favourite spots for lunch, we’re excited about brunch.

It starts at noon, but doesn’t seem to fill up until after 1pm. That is fine by us as until then we have the genial staff all to ourselves. And they’re excellent – charming, welcoming and seemingly waiting in the wings to cater to our every need (like John Turturro in Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. Anyone? Just us then). That means drinks are in steady supply and breads and dips are brought while we look over the menu.

The format is simple. There is a seafood platter to start, then a few antipasti plates. They are all served at the table and you need not worry about a thing. The tricky bit comes next – trying to choose a main course. The selection takes in a fair chunk of the usual à la carte menu, which is excellent news. Desserts are then brought out to share. Our waiter does a great job of pacing the meal, meaning the afternoon flies by.

The food starts with a bang – the seafood platter is simply superb, perhaps the best we’ve ever had. Wonderful oysters, sweet clams, plump prawns and mussels and outstanding lobster and king crab make it up. And we’re made up with it. The foodie experience dips a little at this point as the antipasti just can’t match that platter. The garden salad is perfectly fine and is nicely dressed, and the fried calamari, prawns and courgette fritters work, too. But the beef carpaccio on a thin bread is underwhelming, despite the quality of the meat. We want more of the mushroom dressing and could do without the bread. The smoked salmon bruschetta suffers a similar fate.

Top-quality fish but the canapé-style snack seems like a step backwards after the seafood that precedes it.

Things pick up with the mains, and by now the vibe has, too. The restaurant is filled with chatter, bottles popping, glasses clinking and the sounds of a DJ playing party tunes. And while they mightn’t be traditional brunch dishes, the wild mushroom risotto and lobster and courgette ravioli are stunning – Roberto’s at its very best.

After those, the desserts fall a little flat – the sharing platter just doesn’t have enough of we want to tuck into, though the quality is good.

It’s a great afternoon, despite some niggles and us leaving slightly hungry. We’d love to see a pasta course before the mains. It would add value and showcase more of what Roberto’s is all about.

The bottom line

Some excellent dishes but feels like it could be better value.

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