Sometimes restaurants in this part of the world can be a little bit soulless. The food’s great, but there’s no heart. Not Medzo. Nonna Livia has made sure of that. The Italian matriarch, who has lived in Dubai for seven years, glides effortlessly between the tables of the newly refurbished Wafi old-timer, which has been elegantly resuscitated, with the help of an updated menu and decadent Romanesque decor. Livia won’t bother you unless you ask, but she’s there in person and in every dish her team serves. She loves what she does and glows with pride when customers enjoy her food. Born in Milan to Sicilian parents, Livia sources as many key ingredients as she can from her homeland, and you can tell. The olive oil, the cheese, the meat and even the flour are a cut above. The lady knows what she’s doing.
“I started cooking when I was eight years old. My grandmother and my mother taught me. In Italy it is tradition that all the ladies have to know how to make fresh pasta from a very early age. I also used to travel a lot, all over Italy, and I tried dishes from the places I was visiting. Once I got home, I tried to reproduce those dishes and this is how I learned,” recalls Livia. She explains that the menu references tomato and pasta-heavy regional cuisine from southern Italy and Sicily, as well as richer creamier Northern classics.
Whatever she’s creating, Livia lavishes it with love. “The secret to good Italian cooking is, first of all, to enjoy what you are doing. And then to try your best to make your guests happy. I cook not only with my hands but with my heart. I hope that you can taste this in my food.” We can vouch for the fact that you certainly can. The joy of dining at Medzo is not just in the eating; the ambience is equally alluring. Comfortable, romantic and warm, Medzo manages to make you feel like you’ve left the city and escaped to Sicily for the evening. The waiters are quietly confident, there when you need them but not overbearing, while Livia lingers long enough to answer any questions, without ever intruding. A skill adopted by too few maitre d’s in Dubai. The prices are equally tempting, with main courses rarely hitting the high hundreds and a great selection of grapes by the glass. We just hope that it stays as charming when word gets out. We were trying to keep it our little secret.
INFO: Medzo, Wafi Pyramids, lunch 12.30pm to 3.00pm, dinner 7.30pm to 11.30pm, 04 324 4100, www.pyramidsrestaurantsatwafi.com/restaurants/medzo.