Dubai is not short on Italian restaurants, and with so many opportunities to ‘dine in Rome’ – how does Vivaldi set itself apart from the competition?
Antonio Vivaldi was a classical composer perhaps best known for his seminal masterpiece ‘The Four Seasons.’ Not the pizza. We’re talking about a series of concertos that describe the textures of each season, evoking a range of emotion and a poetic sense of transience.
In a similar way, Vivaldi brings together the various sections of the Italian gastronomic orchestra to create his own opus. His method requires the utmost authenticity, using imported ingredients and strictly adhering to traditional recipes. All against the magnificent backdrop of the Creek, the place where the first stirring notes of modern Dubai began.
The romance of it all is quite overwhelming.
Vivaldi Dubai is located in the emirate’s first five-star hotel, the Sheraton on the Creek. We arrive before twilight, and the crowds, allowing us a few quiet moments to properly appreciate the view. As the evening progresses, the tables begin to fill – and the Riviera-esque evening bustle is democratically reassuring. Spots do not become popular without good reason.
We’re being looked after by Ippolita, the Italian manager, born in Puglia, who proudly invites us to try the restaurant’s delicious special cured European meats.
Italian food blossoms in its basics, so we start with ‘Buratta con cime di rapa e olive’ (AED65), and ‘Spaghetti alla carbonara’ (AED 75). Both dishes squarely hit their target. “You only need four ingredients to create an honest carbonara,” Ippolita tells us, “spaghetti, cured meat, egg and pepper.” And we cannot argue, the result is one of the best carbonaras we have sampled in Dubai; well balanced and al dente in all the right places, no cream, no fuss and seasoning that can only come from an expert hand.
The Buratta fad in Dubai has seen the ordering the cheese dish become a yawn-some activity; increasingly overpriced and short-portioned; it’s often served with a precocious presentation. Here we find a refreshing reminder of why it’s a classic – after arriving on a direct flight from Puglia, it’s delivered to our table accompanied by fresh, pomp-less ‘pomodoro’ and exquisitely simple garlic oil.
We continued with the signature dish ‘Pizza Nera con Frutti di mare’ (AED 90) and ‘Gamboni ai profumi mediterranei’ (AED 158). The pizza is speckled with a characteristic black pigment and it’s a strong piece of evidence that seafood is one of, if not ‘the,’ ultimate pizza topping. Don’t @ us.
The tiger prawns are marine monsters, well-worth their considerable price tag. Cooked in a light tomato gravy with cherry tomatoes and olives, they appropriately compliment the salt in the air along the water’s edge.
If you’re celebrating a special occasion, or you’ve just been paid and you’re feeling flush, Vivaldi Dubai puts forward a decent claim on your date night. It is not cheap, but, the quality is undeniable; the portions are generous; the service is warm; and for us, it is absolutely one of the region’s most credible Italian cuisine experiences.
Vivaldi Dubai opens from noon-1am. Average costs from around AED 400 for two people. Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers. 042071717.