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Dubai Dines… Italian

The best Italian in Dubai

By Courtney Brandt

In a superlative city like Dubai, there is no limit to pursuing the best – the unique, the outstanding, and the ultimate in any category. Be it shopping, hospitality, or food, guests and residents are spoiled for choice across brands and unique experiences. So, with plenty of culinary options available, where does one begin? From the rolling fields of Tuscany to the eternal hills of Rome and the sparkling Amalfi Coast, Italy enjoys an age-old tradition of hospitality. Fortunately for diners, Italian is a well-established genre and speaks to a certain la dolce vita throughout the year. Dubai features several celebrated restaurants, and while challenging to narrow down the best, here are my top three picks, including what to order at these outstanding addresses. 

For those staying in the bustling Marina area, Alici, fronted by talented Chef Domenico Santagada, is a can’t miss location for Southern Italian vibes with sumptuous seafood, superb service, and a subtle touch. Located on Bluewaters Dubai, Alici spans two floors, with bright white interiors and charming photography throughout. Make plans to dine upstairs on the romantic terrace (complete with picturesque views of the JBR skyline) and be swept away by the experience. My must-order dish is the Spaghetti alla ‘Chiattara’ con ricci e riccola, AED125, which features homemade spaghetti, sea urchin, amberjack, and Amalfi lemon zest. Beautifully presented and perfectly balanced, I would make plans to enjoy this stunning pasta as a solo dish.

ALICI DUBAI
ALICI DUBAI

Should you find yourself thirsty, Alici’s wine list boasts more than 250 labels from the world’s major producers (including several local brands from Southern Italy). 

Alici, Bluewaters Island, reservations@alici.com. T. +971 4 275 2577. Bluewaters

Do you follow the stars? Il Romito – Niko Romito just captured two in the inaugural Dubai Michelin guide. Born in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, prior to arriving in Dubai, Chef Giacomo Amicucci worked in some of the finest starred Italian kitchens alongside some of the country’s most talented teams, and we’re lucky to have his talent in the UAE. The interior? Bulgari-chic. Think intimate lighting, contemporary seating, and walls adorned with black and white photos of Italian movie stars from bygone eras. 

il romito – niko romito
Article on the best Italian restaurants in Dubai.
il romito – niko romito

While the degustation is a must-do, plenty of tempting favorites are available from the a la carte selection. My favorite dish? The King crab with oscietra caviar and potatoes, AED300, offers a stunning plate of food with excellent depth. This crustacean creation is luxury upon luxury and delivers sweetness from the crab, a burst of salt from the caviar, and the right amount of potatoes to balance everything. While the main dining room is worthy of a special occasion (for the most privacy, book the private dining room, complete with its own dedicated terrace), it’s also worth stopping by the Bulgari Bar – vivacious bar director Dario Schiavoni is celebrated in the World’s 50 Best Bars – for creative aperitivo and the accompanying menu for small, but chic bites. Be sure to book in advance at this popular venue to avoid disappointment.

Il Ristorante – Niko Romito, Bulgari Hotel, T. +971 4 777 5433 or email dine@bulgarihotels.com

The Artisan, located on the ground floor of the upscale Waldorf Astoria DIFC, immediately impresses with low lights, a select number of covers, and a menu that tells the story of Italy through some of the most beloved dishes. Marble floors, blond wood fixtures, and ribbed glass set a romantic tone, and a sweeping marble and brass bar anchors the space. 

With direction from Chef Francesco Magro, recently a finalist in the Future Great award by Gault & Millau, The Artisan sources Parmigiano Reggiano from Emilia Romagna, olive oil from Toscana, and Tartufo from Piemonte. With a commitment to craftsmanship, the kitchen makes its pasta fresh. Also worth noting are the pizzas, which are well above average. Trust me, and order the Burrata pizza, which is incredibly moreish and easy to share.

The artisan
the artisan

While there is plenty I enjoy, my top choice is the octopus, which is my favorite version in the city. Officially Polpo Croccante, Patate E Fagiolini Verdi, this slow-cooked octopus includes lemon-flavoured potato cream, green beans, Taggiasca olive sauce, purple potato confit, and garlic flavoured panko, AED93. The protein is cooked to perfection, with excellent texture and flavour throughout. Having dined at this location on numerous occasions, I can honestly say it delivers every time. Generous for one diner, the dish is easily split between two people. And while I’m being honest, please save room for the Tiramisu; the creamy Italian Mascarpone cheese, Savoiardi biscuit, and chocolate shavings are worth every sinful spoonful.

The Artisan, Waldorf Astoria DIFC, ground floor, T. +971 04 338 8133 reservations@theartisan.ae

Courtney would love to know your favorite Italian restaurants and dishes in the city. Find her on Instagram at @_courtneybrandt_ to let her know.

Courtney Brandt is an American author and journalist living in Dubai, UAE. Her work has been published in Forbes Middle East, Elite Daily, The Forward Feed, Food&Wine, Sopexa, A Luxury Travel Blog, Matador Network, JustLuxe, Travelettes, Citizen Femme, and Roads & Kingdoms. Connect with Courtney on Instagram, LinkedIn, or her weekly newsletter for more of her foodie and travel adventures.

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