A! List Italian Restaurants

Experience the sun-ripened flavours of Dubai’s finest Italian eateries
Tuesday , 03 May 2011
BiCE
BiCE
Certo
Certo
Magnolia
Magnolia
Rosso
Rosso
Armani/ Ristorante
Armani/ Ristorante
Rococo
Rococo
Segretto
Segretto

BiCE
Address:
Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort, JBR The Walk, Dubai
Tel: 04 399 1111
Web: www1.hilton.com
Dress code: Smart casual
Times: 12pm to 12am, Sunday to Saturday
Price Range: $$$$
There’s something for everyone at this supremely elegant yet vibrant JBR enclave, often cited as the best Italian in the country. The menu offers up a selection of Milanese-influenced comfort food, but gives it a high-end twist, plating dishes up as works of art to be savoured by all the senses. The ambiance is decidedly Italian with wide-spaced tables on shiny wooden floors, sparkling cutlery and almost comedy-like pepper mill proportions; the sharply suited pianist is a nice touch. Everything from the delicate lobster Carpaccio to the classic Veal Milanese is expertly executed. Finish off with an espresso or fresh mint tea even if you’re caffeine-averse; the accompanying bite-sized desserts are worth the calorie angst.
FYI: Rumours abound of the imminent Dubai opening of BiCE Bistro, the more casual trattoria-style offspring of the BiCE brand.
Signature Dishes: Crab cake and avocado tartar, seafood risotto, traditional BiCE tiramisu.

Certo
Address:
Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City
Tel: 04 366 9111
Web: www.radissonblu.com/hotel-mediacitydubai/dining/certo
Dress code: Smart casual
Times: 12pm to 3.30pm, Sunday to Monday and 7pm to 11.30pm, Sunday to Monday
Price Range: $$$
Once the only Italian in buzzing media city where committed pasta-lovers used to make a daily pilgrimage, consistently good Certo still hangs onto its laurels as one of the best. Those eschewing carbs delight in the balsamic-drizzled grilled asparagus and goats cheese salad, lemony seafood salad and sea bass with porcini and spinach. Carb-freak tend to give the garganelli with porcini mushrooms top marks. You can tick off one of your five-a-day by finishing off with the balsamic marinated strawberries served with a dollop of rich vanilla ice cream or scooping out the tiny glassful of Amaretti tiramisu, the best of the options served as a trio.
FYI: Certo gets through than 500kg of buffalo mozzarella a year.
Signature Dishes: Beef Carpaccio with rocket salad, Parmigiano cheese and lemon dressing, mushroom risotto, espresso and honey panna cotta.

Magnolia
Address:
Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah, Al Sufouh, Dubai
Tel: 04 366 6730
Web: www.jumeirah.com/en/hotels-and-resorts/destinations/dubai/madinat-jumeir...
Dress code: Smart casual
Times: 7pm to 11.30pm, Sunday to Saturday
Price Range: $$$
The gourmand cognoscenti have long been waxing lyrical about Chef Gabi’s vegetarian wonder-spot located among  the charming canals of the majestic Madinat. Here healthy eating and organic ingredients take the spotlight. Even the most committed carnivore will be converted by Gabi’s beetroot and red apple mille feuille, raw Mediterranean vegetable lasagne and baked parmesan polenta. Wannabe kitchen goddesses looking for wholesome and delicious inspiration can sign up for Gabi’s personalised cooking classes and seminars too. Truly, this must be the only place in the city where you can indulge in tasty, meat-free gluttony in five-star surroundings.
FYI: Incurable romantics will adore dining at the largely undiscovered fragrant herb garden.
Signature Dishes: Oven-baked purple potato Carpaccio, ricotta-filled kamut cannelloni, geranium crème brûlée.

Rosso
Address:
Amwaj Rotana, Jumeirah Beach, Dubai Marina, Dubai
Tel: 04 428 3088
Web: www.rotana.com/amwaj
Dress code: Casual
Times: 3.30pm to 1am, Sunday to Monday; Restaurant 6pm to 11.45pm, Sunday to Monday
Price Range: $$$
The fash set now hold court at Rosso; terrace tables overlooking the Arabian Gulf and Palm Jumeirah are filled with this crowd. Atkins-fads are ignored as even the skinniest of stylistas follows up her goats cheese and rocket salad with handmade rustic pastas (like seafood tagliolini or strozzapreti with cuttlefish ragout), thin-crusted pizzas (the bresaola-laden Valtellina is our pick) and divine chicken risotto with thyme and zingy lemon zest. Meat and fish dishes are also accomplished but go crazy on the carb-fest. Rosso is all about indulgence.
FYI: Every day is ladies’ night at Rosso; gals get two free selected beverages whatever the day.
Signature Dishes: Mixed grilled vegetables with soft Burrata cheese, pappardelle rossa with dolcette and baby spinach, chestnut and chocolate cream with meringue.

Armani/ Ristorante
Address:
Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa, Burj Downtown, Dubai
Tel: 04 888 3444
Web: www.dubai.armanihotels.com
Dress code: Smart casual
Times: 12pm to 3pm, Sunday to Saturday and 7.30pm to 11pm, Sunday to Saturday
Price Range: $$$$
Banish thoughts of faux-Italian red and white tablecloth kitsch; dining at Ristorante is a seriously serene, soothing experience. Italian ingredients jetted in from the motherland are allowed to take centre-stage at this new kid on the Italian block that’s been garnering accolades since its unveiling. The emphasis is on a lightness of touch, a confidence in the quality of the ingredients and a simplicity in preparation that’s so rarely found in kitchens here. From the selection of freshly baked breads (the flakey, almost croissant-like pesto-swirl is our pick), to the expert service and the faultless execution of modern Italian dishes, this is a class act from start to finish. Don’t leave without trying the Bavarian, a Christmas bauble-like ball filled with cream, biscuit and coulis ­- molecular gastronomy at its sweetest.
FYI: This Italian stalwart sold an average of 10kg of Alba truffles per month during their winter truffle promotion.
Signature Dishes: Canadian lobster and crab meat served with a tomato terrine, foie gras ravioli  with a sage emulsion and parmesan fondue, the sphere (chocolate mousse, brownies, coconut ice cream).

Rococo
Address:
Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah Beach Walk, Dubai Marina
Tel: 04 448 4860
Web: www.sofitel.com
Dress code: Smart casual
Times: 7pm to 11pm, Monday to Saturday
Price Range: $$$
Vladimiro Gadioli presides over this swish new JBR-based pretender to the Italian-restaurant throne. Think intricate mosaics, polished black floors accented with saffron leather chairs, violet walls and burgundy glass accents. The vibrant interior is matched by the lively menu; oven-baked seabass with basil, tomato and mozzarella, Dover sole with lemon butter sauce and marinated baby artichoke salad with avocado and chunky flakes of artisanal parmesan cheese. A welcome new addition to the European dining scene.
FYI: Rococo are generous with their saffron, the most expensive spice and one of the most valuable commodities in the world. Fourteenth century European pirates found saffron shipments more lucrative to plunder than gold.Signature Dishes: Hazlenut and almond-crusted foie gras with wine-poached pear, goats cheese and saffron ravioli with tiger prawns, fried hazelnut-crusted ice cream with caramelised green tomatoes.

Segretto
Address:
Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Al Sufouh, Dubai
Tel: 04 366 6730
Web: www.jumeirah.com
Dress code: Smart casual
Times:
7pm to 11.30pm, Sunday to Saturday
Price Range: $$$
This impossibly romantic Italian will bring out the poet in you, set amid the twinkling lights of the meandering, abra-filled Madinat waterways. A regular fixture on the gourmet circuit, it features comfy dark wood chairs and widely spaced tables, flatteringly low lighting, a decorative colour palate of soothing maroons and beiges and a platoon of efficient staff. Aficionados adore the creamy Burrata, warm octopus salad and beef tagliata, while carb-cravings can be kept in check with unusual wild chicory, meaty porcini, smoked salmon and asparagus risottos, lamb tortellini with warm goats’ cheese fondue or gnocchi with clams in a cherry tomato sauce. Solid Italian fare in magical surroundings.
FYI: There are 5.4km of seawater-filled waterways at the Madinat Jumeirah resort.
Signature Dishes: Crab ravioli with scallop and leek cream sauce, beef tagliata, panna cotta.

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