Tag Archives: Italian

Sapori di Bice

Sapori di Bice
One of the trickiest things a high-end restaurant can do is successfully open a casual dining spin off. Why? Two reasons really… Positioning the casual restaurant in a way that wouldn’t cannibalize the high-end restaurant’s business, i.e. offering a more casual experience at a more casual price tag. And second, the price tag can’t be too casual or else people will start to question the sensibility of margins at the high-end restaurant. It’s a fine balance that I believe Sapori di Bice has hit. Sapori di Bice, as the name indicates, is a casual restaurant from the Bice restaurant group. Bice, once a staple in the fine dining restaurant scene in Dubai, saw an unfortunately decline from the expatriation of heavy weight talent from them to Roberto’s. Bice seems to have faded away like red lipstick after a bowl of spaghetti Bolognese. A remanence is there, a pink shade if you will, but nothing compared to the bold red in it’s heyday. Its Friday afternoon and a friend and I are walking around City Walk on Wasel Road, investigating the mushrooming of newly opened shops and restaurants. Shisha, pass, more shisha for heavens sakes, pass, desserts, pass, soul-less, pass, pass and pass. And then a flutter of Italian being spoken around the corner, I pear my head over and the white space draws me in. After working up an appetite and spending a healthy amount on a new skirt in Sauce in the Hood, comfort food is in order. Beef Carpaccio, spaghetti bolognaise and a café gelato for dessert please. My surprisingly cute Italian waiter (attention, cute waiter in Dubai translates into an oxymoron) responds with, “Right away Miss, the spaghetti Bolognese is not on the menu but I will ask the chef to prepare something special for you.” Could it be, I ordered something off the menu and wasn’t greeted with a deer caught in the headlights expression from my waiter? The result, a smile and a thank you. My beef Carpaccio arrives with a drizzle of truffle oil and slices of mushroom, both of which I feel there is no need for. My specially prepared spaghetti arrives, I push away the Carpaccio to make room. Swirling my fork in the pasta, I create the perfect tightly wrapped bite sprinkle some Parmesan and take it all in. El dente, well seasoned and comfortable, everything a bolognaise should be. Extra sprinkles please I say… A café gelato, maybe one of the best flavors created by man. Velvet-ty and lovely and with each spoonful my troubles and spending woes wash away. A casual Italian that is not in a mall or in a Hotel, how lovely… Would I make a trip to City Walk for a meal at Sapori Di Bice? I’m not sure, but if I’m shopping or walking around that area, that’s the only place I’d sit down for a bite. The next dish to try, freshly roasted chicken. But if we’re speaking take away, I did make my way over to Sapori Di Bice just to pick up a couple of scoops of café gelato for a dinner date. How sweet it is.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION City Walk Wasel Road OPENING HRS. 8am - 11 pm  CUISINE Italian PRICE PER COUPLE AED 250 TELEPHONE # 04 344 2550  WEBSITE Sapori
THE FORK-O-METER
A Casual Hit the Spot Place

Roberto’s

Roberto's
A photo journal of dinner at Roberto's with my FIODTuesdays dinner guests: Powered by the one and only Restronaut  There's no doubt the the Roberto's commands one of the best atmospheres and settings in Dubai. Mind you they don't serve the city's best food yet they are fully booked on a daily basis. Does that say something about the demands of the restaurant crowd in Dubai.  A great place to eat and be seen rather than focus on food. Guilty I am for falling into that category, whenever Roberto's is proposed for drinks or dinner I always get excited and respond with I'm in! Would they be as successful in Beirut, Paris or New York? Either way kudos to them, I know their doing something right! For a full Fork It Over Dubai review of Roberto's check out the link. Love, Tala

Roberto’s DIFC

q
Stepping into Roberto's Fork It Over Dubai can feel the energy of the restaurant emanating from all directions. Well dressed patrons elbow to elbow on closely positioned white draped tables, the buzz of something new in the air and the aroma of Italian cuisine. Fork It Over Dubai: This is exactly where I want to be this evening.  Spotted, Foodiva in a beautiful red dress and Fork It Over Dubai in a beige chiffon number, same time, same place. For tonight is not going to be an ordinary review, no, but a first for Dubai - a collaboration of the greats. Our eyes meet, we greet each other with a gentle nod and proceed to our table. Fork It Over Dubai: (Glancing at Foodiva): Let's begin... Foodiva: I already have. ........ FooDiva: Wow! It’s buzzing in here, packed...like La Petite Maison. A good mix of customers. Love it. Mind you, not too keen on our table sandwiched between other diners....those corner banquettes are so much more prized [sigh]. Guess that puts play to in your face photography ce soir – dodgy i-phone here we come! Complimentary Aperol in hand [Disclosure: FooDiva was recognised on arrival], a new Italian aperitif for us both – similar but not as bitter as Campari with the acid orange cocktail chosen to match Roberto’s colour scheme we’re told - we perused the menu... FooDiva: Menu’s huge. I must admit I couldn’t resist and skimmed through it online earlier. Fork It Over Dubai: True it is huge. Though I'm a girl who likes her options, when it comes to menus, I prefer them tight and concise. After much ‘what are you thinking’ banter, neighbouring food envy and our helpful waiter’s recommendations, we placed our order, and our starters rocked up pretty pronto. FooDiva: That was quick! No it’s OK [to waiter] we can serve ourselves. Fork It Over Dubai: I would expect nothing less when they know FooDiva is in the house! A signature dish of ocean crab cake, sea asparagus tempura & light horseradish mayonnaise. FooDiva: Looks strikingly similar to Bice’s crab cake, but a smaller portion I think. Mmmm...crab’s definitely fresh and sweet, but the breadcrumb coating is a tad overcooked. I could nibble on the tempura though dipped in the mayo all night long. Fork It Over Dubai: It may have been a tad over cooked, but I am enjoying the contrasting textures between the crispy crust and the soft crab meat within. I would although ask for a more generous serving of sauce to last me throughout the whole crab cake.  Pan-seared duck foie gras, glazed pear in port wine balsamic & crispy topinambour. FooDiva: Beautifully seared and plump. Brioche freshly toasted. So light. Love, love, love. Fork It Over Dubai: Mmm like butter in my mouth and enjoying my ever so perfume-y Negroni recommended by my personal alcohol advisor.  Sicilian red shrimps, asparagus & saffron risotto. FooDiva: Loving my dirty martini and the fresh plump green olive touch. Shrimp is sweet, juicy and tender. I know we shared a portion but why just one each? Could have done with more asparagus spears too especially as they’re still in season in Europe. Perfectly al dente risotto though. Fork It Over Dubai: The best part of this dish for me is the different textures between the soft risotto and the almost crunchy shrimp. So I need more shrimp - Stat! Branzino - salt-crusted sea bass (serves two) with grilled vegetables and filleted at our table. We also ordered three sides - green asparagus in lemon oil, sautéed garlic broccoli and crispy golden potato wedges. FooDiva: Gosh it comes with vegetables [menu did in fact stipulate in teeny font]. Naughty - they should have told us not to order sides. Sea bass is so flakily fresh. The roasted vegetables [courgettes, fennel, tomatoes] are full of flavour. Love the crunchy broccoli. Asparagus a little bland in contrast with the roasted veggies. But oh no the wedges are way too under cooked and certainly not ‘crispy and golden.’ Explaining this to the waiter who muttered something about this particular brand of Aussie potato? Doesn’t ring true with me...but lo and behold, the Italian chef ushers out a new serving of potatoes which were indeed well cooked, crispy and golden. Fork It Over Dubai: Sides dishes to me, are like perfect accessories that bring a whole outfit together. Judging from these sides, my outfit would be on the "What not to wear" section of a fashion magazine. But Foodiva I agree with you, the sea bass is so far the star of my meal. Juicy, white, ever so tender fish with roasted vegetables similar to beautiful jewels as sides. Now thats an outfit I'd like to wear! Signature dessert of tiramisu.  Curry madras marshmallow, coconut ice cream, mint-sugar chocolate and bananas. FooDiva: Struggling to pick a dessert here, nothing really shouts out to me. How about the curry marshmallow? You’re the dessert queen though! Fork It Over Dubai: Alright, since you picked something contemporary, lets go for something traditional  - tiramisu it is.  FooDiva: The unusual combo of flavours intrigues me but they don’t work and it looks a mess. It’s impossible to even describe. Out of place for an Italian restaurant whose menu stays true to Italian influences – would have worked better in a high-end Indian. I wish I’d chosen the cheese platter instead - some gorgeous Italian gorgonzola and a chunk of parmesan wouldn’t go amiss! Fork It Over Dubai: Honestly the first thing that strikes me about the dessert before we even tasted it, was how fussy it was. The different colors, shapes and garnishes seems to contrast everything that is simple and Italian. The curry flavor was out of left field considering that everything up to this point was strictly Italian - not a fan. The presentation of the tiramisu is spot on and in one word - simple which is what I enjoy.  FooDiva: Service whilst hugely welcoming is a little too attentive, but then again they’ve figured out we’re reviewing. Almost too prompt, a little more time between courses wouldn’t go amiss. Looks like other tables are getting the right attention though. Fork It Over Dubai: How much is too much is tricky. But at the end of the day I would rather have an over attentive man, I mean waiter, than one who doesn't have the time of day for me.  As two Cinderellas walk out near midnight... FooDiva: Still buzzing in here – amazing. And by the looks of it mostly two seatings. It’s just a shame the lounge area [before you enter the main restaurant and bar] is dead. But we’re told that will open up with the terrace (overlooking Burj Khalifa) come winter time. Fork It Over Dubai: Can't wait for that.  The team at Roberto’s handed us a comment card, so we thought we’d share the completed form with you here instead. The overall quality of food and attention to service is very evident at Roberto's. The strongest pull back factor that Roberto's has is its atmosphere, its a place where you can really feel the vibe and electricity of the Dubai city life. I know Roberto's will have a bright future in the Dubai restaurant scene. Check out Foodiva's Review of Roberto's HERE!
THE DETAILS
LOCATION DIFC OPENING HRS. 12 - 3pm, 7 - 11:30pm CUISINE Italian PRICE PER COUPLE AED 1,000 TELEPHONE # 04 3860066 WEBSITE http://www.robertos.ae/
THE FORK-O-METER
A Craving Quencher Restaurant
     

Jamie’s Italian Kitchen

Jamies

No food lover can resist a celebrity chef food outlet.  When it comes to Jamie Oliver, I doubly can’t resist – he is just too cute! (Am I right ladies?) But I promise that his cuteness factor will in no way have an effect on the verdict of his restaurant. Consciously speaking I’m saying it won’t but subconsciously who knows… Let The Plate by Plate Run-Down Begin Pumpkin Bruschetta I think pumpkins are one of the most underrated vegetables (though scientifically a fruit) out there. When we see a pumpkin Bruschetta it’s a definite order. The pumpkin topping is generous to say the least, thick and creamy. The Bruschetta bread though, is hard as rock I think a product of heating and reheating. A Globe of Fried Rice Stuffed with Parmesan and Mushrooms Aka the carb bomb. It’s a crunchy mass of friend rice stuffed with soft cheese and mushrooms and to top it off a spicy salsa. My reaction, everyone back off – these balls are mine! The Mushroom Dish Beautiful – rustic – love the mushrooms – Yum. Pumpkin Risotto Again with the pumpkin? Yes, when it comes to my dinner date if pumpkin is on the menu – it’s gonna be on the table.  The risotto has more sauce than the usual risottos but it made it all the more enjoyable. Comfort food to the max with excellent flavor. Chicken Breast Usually this is how it goes. Chicken dish = boring. But when you add Jamie’s Italian Kitchen it goes more like Chicken dish + Jamie = Burst of Flavor. Just by looking at the photo you can tell the Tuscan inspired chicken is full of flavors of Italy from the tomato sauce, herbs, olives and greenery. My Pasta Dish I have to take some responsibility for this dish. It is made up of pasta, baby potato, parmesan, herbs and string beans.  While placing my order I think let me try something different. Conclusion never let my brain think while ordering – let my appetite guide the way. The dish proved to be a little mundane – every bit tasted exactly the same. Posh Fries The posh fries are named as so because they have a drizzle of truffle oil on them. Unfortunately I only know this because it said it on the menu – don’t taste it on the fries. Outcome – just get the normal fries and save a couple of AEDs. Lemon Dessert While making my order I think that the lemon dessert would be my least enjoyable dessert but surprisingly it is my favorite. It is a fresh burst of favors with lemon, raspberry and mint contrasted with a dollop of fresh cream. Brownie It’s your standard brownie – Nothing to write home (blog) about. Cheese Cake Topping the cheese cake is a paper thin layer of layer of caramel. The texture and flavor are both spot on. Warning, it has an undertone of lemon zest which was slightly unexpected. Personally I like my cheese cake to be simple cheese cake not lemon/fruit cake. The Verdict Sitting back I think, this definitely warrants that oh-so-relaxing unfastening of the first button of your jeans. The winners for the meal are the rice balls, the chicken dish, the pumpkin risotto and the lemon dessert. Was I expecting mind blowing Italian cuisine? No. I was expecting a casual rustic Italian eatery that had fresh, interesting flavors – which is what I got. Would I actively change my plans to incorporate Jamie’s Italian Kitchen into it – maybe not. But if I was in Dubai Festival City my restaurant choice would be as follows:  Do I feel like Italian or Steak and Fries? If it was Italian I would pick Jamie’s Italian Kitchen and if it was steak and fries I would pick Le Relais de L’Entrecote.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION: Festival City OPENING HRS: 12 pm - 12 am CUISINE: Italian PRICE PER COUPLE: AED 500  
THE FORK-O-METER
A Since we are in the Area Restaurant
 

The Armani Hotel Dubai

Armani Resto
As soon as I hear the Armani hotel has FINALLY opened, following several delays and a volcanic eruption, my blackberry immediately calls hotel restaurant reservations. So what exactly does the Armani Hotel offer Dubai? Anything new? Anything exciting? Or just an extension of the existing restaurants in Dubai? Read on… you won’t be disappointed. The restaurants they currently offer: -        Hashi: A modern Japanese restaurant with a sushi bar and grill section featuring a live DJ, lounge and terrace. Open for dinner. -        Peck: An Italian inspired, semi casual, organic restaurant offering a variety of beautifully presented cheeses, salads, pastas, main courses and desserts. Open for dinner. -        Ristorante: An ultra elegant Italian fine dining restaurant. Open for both lunch and dinner. -        Mediterraneo: A Mediterranean buffet which also has an a la cart menu. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. -        Amal: An authentic Indian restaurant with an open kitchen and terrace. Open for dinner. My selection process goes something like this: Hashi, Dubai is full of modern Japanese restaurants so no. Peck, casual so no. Mediterraneo, buffet so no. Amal sounds interesting. Ristorante YES that’s the one! Considering that Armani is Italian and Ristorante is a fine dining concept, I presume that this restaurant should symbolize everything the hotel represents. After giving in my name, phone number, email address and even car license plate number, I have a reservation at Ristorante which is confirmed by both SMS and E-mail. Driving up to the Armani hotel my surroundings are magnificent. A playful fountain welcomes me while the grandiose and omnipotent like Burj Khalifa towers over me. I give my reservation number to the gate guard, which he verifies on his laptop and we’re in! We enter the lobby and my eyes are drawn up and up and up… high ceilings – my ultimate favorite; I wouldn’t expect anything lest from the tallest tower in the world. I inquire about the size of the lobby, “Why not so extravagantly big?” I ask. The hostess responds by explaining that Armani wanted to capture an elegant homey feeling and when guests arrive they don’t check in a personal hotel representative takes care of those details, so there is no need for a grand lobby. Ristorante We are ushered into Ristorante and I am instantly wowed by the design. I can describe it in one word Armani; sleek, beautiful and extremely elegant.  We are given golden menus and I’m pleased by their focus on quality rather than quantity of dish selections. With the help of the head chef, we make our choices. The first dish that arrives is a mozzarella based amuse-bouche. The mozzarella has a mousse like texture, nothing I’ve tasted or seen before, with a black olive and slice of fresh tomato. I now understand why an amuse-bouche is served; the freshness of the plate unlocks my appetite with every bite. Our burrata (a kind of mozzarella cheese) appetizer arrives.  If I knew the amuse-bouche was going to be mozzarella I would have changed my appetizer, slight mozzarella overload. The grilled vegetables complement the dish well and include grilled zucchini, eggplant, asparagus and bell pepper. The basil is powerful and the two pealed cherry tomatoes are my favorite. Our saffron risotto comes next. The risotto reminds me of a sunflower, brownish in the center with a rich yellow surrounding. The rice is cooked well, slightly el dente just the way it should be and the consistency feels like a light, smooth, cream. The lamb chunks are very tender and engulfed with a rich meat sauce. To me, the dish represents comfort food prepared and presented in a very sophisticated way. Our veal tenderloin arrives. I’ll start explaining from top to bottom; three shavings of truffle, cooked foie gras, veal, a puree of fresh peas, grilled onions, pea sprouts, pine seeds and sauce specially drizzled by the chef himself at our table. Explaining all the different flavors in this dish would be impossible. The veal is extremely tender, the onions are balls of sweetness, the puree of peas are a beautiful color and consistency and the truffles need no explanation. The dish is extravagant to say the least. The hardest part is getting all the ingredients on my fork for a colossal bite. Placing my dessert in front of me the waiter explains that I chose the best one on the menu. In front of me is a golden sphere. The manager approaches our table and begins to explain the making of my dessert. Sugar is heated into caramel, the caramel is then blown into a sphere - similar to glass, and then the filling of crème caramel, crumbles, a white chocolate truffle and raspberry sauce are delicately place inside the sphere.  And let’s not forget the 24 karat shaving – Love the gold touch. Several pictures and minutes of admiring later I crack open my golden sphere and prove that it tastes as excellent as it looks. The crème caramel has a lovely vanilla flavor and the raspberry sauce was oh so raspberry. The meal is exceptional - nothing I’ve seen or tasted in Dubai and definitely on a level of its own. Did I mention that they have an open kitchen where you can see the master chefs silently at work? My experience at the Ristorante ends when I reach my house. My BB lights up with a “Thank you for dinning at Ristorante. We look forward to having you in the near future.”  - How sweet, I rhetorically respond “No, thank You for opening and right next to my house!” The next restaurant I would go for is Amal then Hashi then Peck and then Mediterraneo. Reviews of the rest to follow.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION: Armani Hotel CUISINE: Italian PRICE PER COUPLE: AED 1,000 TELEPHONE #: 04 888 3 888  
THE FORK-O-METER
A Love At First Site Restaurant