Serving up so much more than perfect slices of pizza…

Pizza… pasta… fresh seafood… Italian cuisine has something for everyone. And in Dubai, there’s no shortage of delicious restaurants serving top quality Italian fare. From contemporary restaurants inspired by the artsy cities of the north to fresh ingredients you’ll find in cosy trattoria’s in the south, we’ve rounded up the city’s best Italian restaurants.

Alici

Amalfi coast-inspired restaurant Alici is located on the waterfront of Bluewaters island, and walking inside feels like stepping into a cosy family-run trattoria on the Italian coast. Everything inside Alici – which means anchovy in Italian – is beautiful. Contemporary cream interiors are blissfully interrupted by art and pottery, most of which has been hand painted by ‘The Anchovy Man’, famed in Italy for his fish paintings.  The menu is extensive but not overbearing, food is flawless, service is engaging without being obtrusive, and while dishes aren’t cheap – they’re not overly expensive either.

Alici, Bluewaters, off JBR, Dubai Marina, daily noon to 3.30pm and 7pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 2752577. alici.com

Armani Ristorante

At the top end of the price scale for Italian restaurants in Dubai you’ll find Armani Ristorante. Located in the glamourous surroundings of the  Armani Hotel inside the Burj Khalifa, the restaurant serves lavish, thoroughly modern Italian cuisine that’s plated to perfection.

Armani Ristorante, Armani Hotel Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai, daily 6pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 888 3666. armanihoteldubai.com

BiCE Mare

What makes BiCE Mare at Souk Al Bahar special is the views – they have one of the most enviable spots in the souk for overlooking the Dubai Fountain. There’s a big focus on seafood – so don’t expect to be dining on a Margherita pizza here. Dishes are designed to be shared and the menu changes seasonally.

BiCE Mare, Level 2, Souk Al Bahar Downtown Burj Khalifa, daily 12pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 423 0982. bicemare.com

Basta!

BASTA! is one of two restaurants by the ‘Gypsy Chef’, David Myers, and describes that it ‘transports diners to an urban interpretation of a Roman trattoria, Florentine steakhouse and Neapolitan pizzeria’. The menu is inspired by celebrity chef Myers travels to these regions, and you’ll see elements of this throughout the restaurant, from the open-plan kitchen and wood fire grill at the heart, to an extra-large painted artwork of iconic actress Sophia Loren. From the menu, it’s a modern meets traditional combination of stonebaked pizza, handmade pasta, and boards of antipasti.

Basta!, Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai, Business Bay daily 12pm to 12am. Tel: (04) 512 5522. basta-dubai.com

Bussola

Part lounge, part pizzeria, part restaurant, Bussola is all three in one. In the cooler months, we love nothing more than to sip sundowners on the upstairs terrace at Bussola, while tucking into one of their delicious pizzas. But in the summer, it’s also a great spot for a laid-back Italian meal. While the menu is simpler than some of its counterparts, it’s famed across the city for offering pretty much every pizza imaginable. They’re generous sizes too, so bring your appetite.

Bussola, The Westin Mina Seyahi, Mina Seyahi, Dubai, daily 12pm to 3pm and 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 5117391. bussoladubai.com

Cipriani

The Dubai version of the world-famous Cipriani restaurant chain is a must-visit when dining in DIFC. The high-end restaurant transports diners back to the 1950s and 1960s thanks to its white tableclothed tables, retro decor and glossed wooden interiors. While you’ll find some delicious dishes on the menu (their ice-cream is arguably the best in the city), no visit would be complete without trying one of the signature Bellini’s, a mixed-drink invented by Giuseppe Cipriani in 1930s Venice.

Cipriani, Gate Village Building 10, DIFC, Dubai, daily 12pm to 2am (kitchen closes 12am). Tel: (04) 347 0003. cipriani.com

Certo

Certo is a cosy, no-frills style Italian restaurant in Dubai Media City. The perfect place for an after-work dinner and drinks, the menu is well priced, staff are friendly, and you’ll find all the typical Italian dishes on the menu, as well as a few more creative options.

Certo, Radisson Blu Dubai Media City, Media City, daily 12pm to 3.15pm, 6pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 366 9187. radissonblu.com

Il Borro Tuscan Bistro

What makes Il Borro so special isn’t its stunning views (although it does have a lovely terrace that looks out to the waters of Jumeirah Al Naseem), nor its contemporary interiors which still manage to feel intimate. What gives Il Borro the wow-factor is its dedication to serving authentic Italian fare, made with Italian sourced products. Il Borro is drenched in history, and the Italian restaurant hails from a famous Tuscan estate which has more than 1,000 years of rich history, and is set amongst a sprawling 700-hectare estate. While its modern Dubai outpost may be world’s away from its Tuscan home, the team behind What’s On’s Restaurant of the Year 2017 & 2018 remain dedicated to creating a taste of Italy in Dubai, and do it to an unfalteringly high, and arguably Michelin-worthy standard.

Il Borro Tuscan Bistro, Jumeirah Al Naseem, Jumeirah St, Dubai, daily noon to 3.30pm and 7pm to 1am. Tel: (04) 275 2555. ilborrotuscanbistro.ae

Luigia

Homemade Italian dishes are on the menu at Luigia, the pizzeria housed in the Rixos Premium JBR. The expansive restaurant is kitted out in bold, brash hues of purple and red, and it’s well-priced for it’s prime location on JBR. There’s a dedicated kids menu too, so it’s a good choice for families looking for hearty Italian food that won’t break the bank.

Luigia, Rixos Premium JBR, Dubai Marina, Sun to Thurs 5.30pm to 12am, Fri and Sat 12.30pm to 12am. Tel (04) 349 6950. luigia.ae

Matto

When a restaurant’s name literally means “crazy” in Italian, you know you’re not getting stiff, traditional fare. Playful Business Bay restaurant Matto works because, while the food is good, the atmosphere is even better. Working well as a party spot, last-minute dinner venue or romantic night, it’s casual without being dingy, and smart without being too stuffy. Edison bulbs shine over the large group tables, while a DJ pumps tunes between hanging copper kitchenware and a message board decorated with postcards. There’s even an enormous mural of a man kissing a fish. Not exactly your standard red tablecloths, statues and Pisa paintings, and we’re more than ok with that.

Lobby level, The Oberoi Dubai, Business Bay, Dubai, Sat to Wed noon to midnight, Thur and Fri noon to 1am. Tel: (04) 4441335. mattodubai.com

Marea

Marea Dubai is the brand-new addition to Dubai International Financial Centre’s repertoire of exclusive venues. Having spent a decade at the top of its game in New York, Marea has earned two Michelin stars and been voted as one of the best Italian restaurants in Manhattan. There’s a chic cocktail bar as you walk in, with a wall of amber art glowing from behind and a row of plush blue velvet bar stalls for guests to enjoy a drink before their meal. Downstairs is a more expansive bar area, with low, intimate seating for 65 and a more metropolitan vibe, perfect for live music which will apparently come at a later stage. The first class food is certainly the restaurant’s pull, but we’ll see how the venue fares against the already saturated market for the DIFC after-work drinks crowd.

Marea, DIFC Gate Village 7, daily 12pm to 3pm then Sat to Tues 7pm to 1am, Weds & Thurs 7pm to 3am and Fridays 7pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 583 6366. marea.ae

Quattro Passi

While FIVE Palm Jumeirah might be on your radar for raucous pool parties and picture-perfect sunsets at Penthouse, it’s lesser known Italian restaurant is a brilliant choice for Southern Italian fare. While the bright, airy interiors that look out onto the pool might not transport you to the Amalfi coast, the classic dishes of pasta, seafood, grilled and roasted meats, sharing platters, and assorted pastries and desserts certainly will.

Quattro Passi, FIVE Palm Jumeirah, daily 12.30pm to 3.30pm, 7pm to 11.30pm. Tel (04) 455 9989. fivehotelsandresorts.com

Roberto’s

Roberto’s has been one of the city’s most popular restaurants for the last seven years – which is about equivalent to a century in the Dubai dining scene. Staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and greet every guest with the charming Italian hospitality you’d expect from a high-end restaurant. The food is fantastic, and you’ll go a long way to beat their signature Roberto’s pizza, but don’t let that stop you from trying out their creative pasta dishes that change with the season.

Roberto’s, Gate Village 1, DIFC, Dubai, daily 12pm to 2am. Tel: 04 386 0066. robertos.ae

Ronda Locatelli

Housed in the iconic Atlantis The Palm, Ronda Locatelli is the brainchild of acclaimed chef Giorgio Locatelli. It’s dimly lit and it’s got a rustic feel thanks to its mostly wooden interiors. There’s both indoor and outdoor seating available, and while the restaurant only opens for dinner through the week, it’s a great family-friendly spot for a weekend lunch, with just about every pizza imaginable on the menu. The restaurant has also recently introduced a vegan menu, with more than 40 options catering to vegans including pizza, pasta and desserts.

Ronda Locatelli, Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, Sat to Weds 6pm to 10.30pm, Thurs and Fri 6pm to 11pm, Fri and Sat 12.30pm to 4pm. Tel: (04) 426 2626 atlantisthepalm.com

Scalini

Tucked away on the ground floor of the Restaurant Village at Jumeirah Four Seasons is Scalini, an Italian restaurant brought to Dubai by way of London. The quaint restaurant is littered with pictures of celebrities who’ve frequented the London haunt, while an outdoor terrace is covered in leafy foliage and a central tree twinkles with fairy lights. The real shining star at this restaurant, though, is the staff, many of whom who’ve come to Dubai from the award-winning London spot. They’ve mastered fine dining in a refreshingly modern way, silver serving dishes of fresh beef carpaccio and creamy burrata while laughing and joking with guests. The menu is thoroughly authentically Italian, with each dish full of flavour and beautifully presented.

Scalini, Restaurant Village, Jumeirah Four Seasons, Jumeirah, daily 7pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 349 0068. scalini-dubai.com

Torno Subito

A certain level of expectation comes with any restaurant opening from a celebrity chef. But, when it’s the first restaurant outside of Italy from Massimo Bottura, the man behind world number one restaurant Osteria Francescana, the expectation is even higher. Inside Torno Subito serves as an ode to Bottura’s memories and childhood. Elements of Massimo’s playful side are everywhere. Modern, neutral colours and furnishings are forgone in favour of bold hues of green, yellow, pink, blue and red, mismatched together with monochrome stripes that give the restaurant a retro, Italian-Riviera feel. The menu is split into six simple sections: Starters, Pasta (available in medium and large portions), Main Courses, Sides, Pizza and Dessert, all available for lunch and dinner. Torno Subito may not be Osteria Francescana, but nor does it want to be. It’s certainly up there with some of the tastiest Italian dishes we’ve had in Dubai, and it certainly delivers on its promise of laid back, Italian Riviera-style dining.

Torno Subito, W Dubai – The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, daily 12pm to 3pm and 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 245 5555. marriott.com

Vanitas

Vanitas

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The elegant Vanitas restaurant is reminiscent of a grand Italian palazzo, which is unsurprisingly considering it’s location inside the Palazzo Versace in the Al Jaddaf area of the city. While this might not be your closest Italian restaurant, it’s worth a trip for a romantic dinner served up in lavish surroundings. Take advantage of a tasty summer set menu with two glasses of wine this summer for Dhs195 per person.

Vanitas, Palazzo Versace Dubai, Al Jaddaf, daily 12pm to 3pm, 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 5568820. palazzoversace.ae

Vivaldi

One of the city’s longer serving restaurants is Vivaldi, found in the Sheraton Dubai Creek. While the interiors are nothing special, the floor to ceiling windows give way to one of the most romantic and wow-worthy views of the Dubai Creek in the city. It’s a more casual offering compared to some of the city’s fine dining offerings, and a smaller menu too, but it packs each of its dishes full of flavour.

Vivaldi, Sheraton Dubai Creek, Dubai Creek, daily 12pm to 3pm, 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 2071717. vivaldidubai.com

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