Carluccio’s has opened its eight restaurant Dubai and this is slightly different from the others.
Italian chain Carluccio’s is known across Dubai for its good value and unfussy food, but has never been able to wax lyrical about Italy’s other great exports until now. This 210-seat restaurant at Jumeirah Creekside Hotel is its first licensed venue outside of Dubai Airport and it plans to take full advantage of this status with a ladies’ night and family focused “grazing” brunch.
When we visit, everyone has wisely opted to sit outside on the terrace. There it’s all very laid back and after-dark and more than a touch romantic, with glowing low lights and the Irish Village lake providing a charming backdrop. In fact, it’s so close to the popular Garhoud pub that we can hear that night’s act – no bad thing for an extra dollop of atmosphere.
We start out simple, with Sicilian arancini (AED 54). Gorgonzola cheese oozes out of the crispy fried rice balls and our only complaint is that there isn’t more of them – splitting a portion of three between two takes a bit of deft knife-work and a lot of goodwill.
Beef carpaccio (AED 64) looks good and smells fantastic, drizzled with the eponymous truffle oil that cures the raw meat ever so slightly. The simple Italian appetiser is a good test of any kitchen and Carluccio’s passes with style.
If it’s pasta and pizza you’re after, Carluccio’s offers a decent range of both. We go for ravioli, the mother of all pastas. Such a simple dish, ravioli really relies on getting the sauce just right. Letting the butter cook a little longer would have added that irresistible nutty flavour to our spinach and ricotta combination (AED 71).
Italy’s sun-kissed coastline means its cuisine enjoys a bounty of fresh fish and seafood, so with a hat tip to that we order salmon pesto (AED 99). The grilled salmon comes sprinkled with pearls of Sardinian fregola pasta and drizzled with just the right amount of basil pesto. We really want to love this dish, but accompanying chargrilled vegetables are slightly undercooked.
Because Italian, Carluccio’s doesn’t skimp on the desserts and our hunky slice of Nutella cheesecake (AED 44) is a pitch-perfect end to the meal. We’re left in a drowsy state of ‘abbiocco’ (the more genteel Italian way of saying ‘food coma’).
Almost as sweet are the utterly charming staff and we’re wreathed in smiles by the end of our time there.
Carluccio’s caters for breakfast, lunch and dinner and at the bar has its own menu of sharing platters.
Dubai Week dines anonymously unless otherwise stated.