Italian restaurants in DIFC seem to be on the increase! Which ones did we try this week?
We also had lunch at a simple but perfectly good contemporary, canteen style hotel restaurant – The Daily. That’s located in Dubai’s newest and best budget hotel, not far from DIFC!
Find out where to stay in fabulous accommodation on a budget so you can spend your money on high end Italian cuisine. All on Food News with me, Mark Lloyd and Zahra Soar this week on The Ticket Dubai Eye 103.8.
By the way the Italian Cuisine World Summit is happening in Dubai this November and there is actually a dinner announcing that tonight (Monday 4th July) at the Palazzo Versace.
Artisan joins the list of Italian restaurants in DIFC
Artisan is an upmarket Italian restaurant located in the Burj Daman building in DIFC. (The same place as the Burger Lobster is located) It’s the 2nd branch of the original Michelin starred Artisan from Florence in Italy, the first branch opened in the 1970s, they have a branch in Japan and now they’ve opened in DIFC.
We had dinner there on Thursday evening. It has a very upmarket feel to it, with classic grey and white interiors, white table cloths and silver cutlery.
We sat at a bar that’s in the restaurant itself, then moved to a table for dinner when our food was ready.
I liked the agnolotti pasta stuffed with pumpkin and sage butter, really good, but I added chilli to it from time to time. My friend really liked her octopus to start with. It tasted a lot better than it looked! It was tender, and slightly crispy as well, not at all rubbery or chewy.
I was a bit disappointed with my courgette flowers, though. They tasted fine, but I was expecting a very light crisp coating, with some of the saffron head of the flower showing and a stuffing of a light cheese. This is how we had them in Pienza on holiday in the Val D’Orcia.
We both agreed the desserts were very good, I had a lemon meringue tart, with lemons from Sorrento and we also tried a cremolina that came in a see through cup! I LOVED the sorbets, in fact the best sorbets I’ve ever eaten I think, an amazing chocolate one, mango passion and the lemon again was made from the whole lemon so it was quite zingy!
This Italian restaurant in DIFC isn’t pretending to be a Michelin star level offering and good on them for doing that. But all the literature and marketing makes you aware of this restaurant’s lineage. They want the restaurant to be much more accessible in terms of price and feel. So it’s a lovely place to sit and eat or have a drink, it’ll be a even better when their terrace part opens in the cooler months. And most of the prices are pitched at an accessible level.
Courgette flowers AED 70
Octopus with green beans AED 95
Agnolotti AED 90 – 10 pieces of stuffed pasta (and a penne arrabbiata for AED 70!)
Prawn and calamari skewers with a light citrus sauce AED 155 – didn’t provide value for money based on the portion we received and we weren’t advised to order sides with this. BUT all the sides represent great value at AED 25 each!
Al Grissino’s not new but it’s new to me
It’s been open for almost a year but it’s going to be relaunched in September so I wanted to compare it before and after and it’s another newish Italian in DIFC that not many people know about. It’s called Al Grissino and again it’s a branch that has the original in Milan.
Alessio the Italian restaurant manager is very knowledgable and takes great pains to tell you that this Milanese import’s main focus is seafood. But he’s gone with his customers and has read the market correctly, so has added Dubai favourites like buratta cheese with basil and things like mushroom risotto. We both agreed he needs to gradually educate and introduce the Dubai palate to the way they eat seafood at the original Al Grissino’s in Milan. But that’s coming in September.
It’s located in Emirates Financial Towers not to be confused with Emirates Towers on the 16th floor, the same building as Mint Leaf.
It’s a very large restaurant with a quite an interesting bar area that has to be seen to be believed! I’d like to go again at night to get the full impact of being so high up with literally fluffy clouds above me! But we visited at lunch and sat at a gorgeous table with a spectacular view of Burj Khalifa.
I ate a variety of small seafood dishes that were marinaded but nothing like the lemony ceviches of our Peruvian restaurants. I really liked the prawns and the scampi from this section.My yoga teacher loved her burrata and so did I. She then had a very cute melanzane parmigiana that I’ve never seen served in that fashion, almost like a little tartlet. I really liked this too and we shared a very good mushroom risotto.
We shared a tiramisu that tasted excellent, with some incredibly strong tiny coffee biscuits that were part of the pudding that added to it’s moreishness. I liked this restaurant and the food and I’d go back again but the decor is a little heavy in parts, so not contemporary but not old fashioned, somewhere in the 1990s? The business lunch deals seem fabulous at AED 85 or AED 99 depending on what you choose.
Tiramisu AED 46
Mushroom Risotto AED 84 both the above were very good value
Burrata AED 85
And I think the portions are quite generous.
There are some quite pricey items on the menu here considering the location and feel of the restaurant but then seafood and that too from Italy is expensive. But equally if you choose carefully you can experience this restaurant for less money. Try the current promotion of Friday brunch for AED 275 and that’s an amazing 2 for 1 deal! I also think their Ladies Night at AED 100 for certain house beverages and Italian buffet food is a good one. I’ll try it and report back in September.
The Daily is the all day restaurant at Emaar’s newest hotel offering Rove Dubai I LOVED it
The chef at The Daily is from the Vida hotel, also an Emaar hotel. And the restaurant is this new budget hotel’s all day dining facility. I LOVED this hotel, I really did. I think it’s changed the face of budget accommodation in Dubai. It’s modern with very contemporary bits of art with Arabic twists here and there, so you’ve got that Western, organised infrastructure that we makes us feel comfortable but you never forget where you are.
I’ll be doing a separate post on all the fun and facilities of the ROVE hotel a bit later. But I’m definitely recommending this one to extra friends and family who can’t fit at home!
So for our simple lunch we had a margherita pizza, not from Florence or Milan but perfectly fine and not rubbish at all! Even better when you consider it costs AED 34 and is enough for 2 people! We had a quinoa salad and a piece of salmon which again was quite good and very well presented. We liked the almond tart and chocolate dessert both very reasonable at AED 30.
My friend visiting from Ireland had 2 drinks, a cold iced coffee to start with served in a real kilner jar. She said it was the best iced coffee she’d ever had. Then we both had a green juice called The Energiser. This one was also excellent and it had apple, celery, spinach, kale, fresh orange juice and at AED 24 I thought it was great value as well.
So if you need to do some work on an iMac, or you’ve quite a bit of time to spend while your visitors buy up Dubai Mall, this is a 5 minute walk away (not tested) social hub where you could eat something very decent at an affordable price, in a very welcoming contemporary environment. And while I’d love sitting in the lobby of the Four Seasons and having a coffee there too, I’m glad there are now proper choices for people with all wallets and whims. Well done Emaar and well done Dubai on opening the Rove.
Happy Holidays everyone! Do follow on DoinDubai’s instagram if you’d like to find out about the latest from London and Bali and I’ll see you at the end of August with lots more Food News from Dubai.
Thank you Monica
And I’ll add the PODCASTS for this post here when they’re up.