Exceedingly good Italian at the Waldorf Astoria in DIFC

In Dubai, size matters when sometimes it shouldn’t. Restaurant investors eye up large square footage, assuming the very key to success is a huge floor plan. More tables, means more customers, means more money. In theory, that would be correct, but space isn’t everything. Aside from mediocre food, there’s nothing worse than an empty, soleless restaurant, especially a very large, empty and soleless restaurant.

The Artisan doesn’t have this issue. It’s a perfectly formed, intimate venue inside the Waldorf Astoria in DIFC. It’s classy, without showing off and busy without being crammed. The service is attentive, the décor elegant and romantic, and the drinks thoughtful and refined.

The food is also exceedingly good.

Key ingredients are allowed to sing without a chorus of ten other flavours fighting for attention.

We devoured the impossibly thin Fassona beef carpaccio (Dhs125), dressed with rocket, shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano, sweet Datterino tomatoes and lemon dressing. You must also try the tartufo nero (Dhs210). Using truffle from Piemonte and 72-hour fermented dough, it’s a masterpiece in Italian cuisine, and the finest example of elegant pizza done right.

Pasta courses are another triumph. The paccheri – freshly made XXL penne-shaped pasta tubes (Dhs140)  – slathered in Tuscan pecorino fondue and thyme-flavoured beef ragu is rich and meaty – and a signature dish at The Artisan – but the pumpkin-stuffed agnolotti (Dhs120) is equally delicious. We’ve had many a bland vegetable-filled pasta, but this is bursting with a silky, sage-infused purée.

Dessert for us was an old faithful – a tiramisu (Dhs55)  – which could have done without the blanket of cacao nibs, but by that point we were sold. The Artisan: go there, you’ll love it.

The Artisan, Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai, daily noon to midnight. Tel: (0)4 338 8133. @theartisandubai