Do you make everything you sell in your restaurant by hand?
Yes, our chef makes everything by hand. Our pasta, our pizza dough, our gelato, is all made fresh.
But you specialise in pasta?
Well, we supply pasta to a lot of the five star restaurants in Dubai, and we sell it at the Gourmet Station.
So do you have a culinary background? How did you get started with your pasta factory and restaurant?
I came to Dubai in 1991 to run a pen factory. Then, when I couldn’t compete with China and my price crashed, I had two options: either move to China or Mexico, or stay in Dubai and change my business. One day, I was with my son, and we got some flour and some eggs and we started to play. When my wife came back from work, we started cooking for her and she loved it. I thought: This is an item that is missing in Dubai. So I started researching.
What’s there to research? Isn’t pasta just flour, water and eggs?
Well, yes, but those ingredients are very important. You have to find the right ingredients and then do the job with dedication and passion. Local flour is not good for making fresh pasta, it’s more of a bakery product. All the flour we use we import from Italy. And, of course, we are using bottled water from Italy, because the water from the tap isn’t very good.
Do you have to have a pasta machine to make pasta, or can the amateur chef do it by hand?
You can do it by hand with a roller, just like my mother used to.
So what do you think of Italian food in Dubai?
There are two types of Italian restaurants, really. One is Italian by name – it’s not really Italian, but people like it. The other is high quality Italian, and it’s very good. One thing’s certain: Dubai loves Italian food. You’ll notice, in most hotels, there may not be a Chinese restaurant, there may not be a French, but there’s almost always an Italian… and usually a steakhouse.
Your restaurant is unlicensed. Is it challenging to make Italian food without pork or alcohol?
It does affect what I put on the menu. For example, I love spaghetti with clams, but you need wine to make it, so I don’t put it on the menu. But, with spaghetti carbonara, I use beef bacon instead of ham, and it’s really nice, it works.
Stefano’s (04 422 2632), Marina Walk. Open 11am-2am daily. All major credit cards accepted. Unlicensed.