Does the celeb-loved LA hotspot live up to its name? 

Around four months ago, this famed West Hollywood restaurant opened its first international outpost in Dubai’s Emirates Towers.

The mafia-inspired restaurant has already taken Dubai’s buzzy nightlife scene to new levels with its unique 70s aesthetic and no-photos dinners. But how well does the venue balance its late-night bar crowd with its restaurant guests?

First of all, if you’re the last-minute type then perhaps this restaurant isn’t for you as you won’t be able to walk in without having made a reservation – oh so exclusive.

Make the effort to book in and take a seat at one of the large booths towards the back of the room – we’re told these are the best seats in the house.

On a chilly winter evening in Dubai, The Nice Guy comes with plenty of warmth, a touch of nostalgia, and an unexpectedly familiar atmosphere. We’re met with romantic dim lighting, dark wooden walls, and a half-full restaurant.

Order their iconic Spicy Siena cocktail (no excuse needed) before looking down at the classic Italian menu.

From the starters, choose Mo’s meatballs (Dhs95). Three large and juicy meatballs come with a dollop of stracciatella cheese and are drenched in a sweet-yet-garlicky tomato sauce that reminds me of my childhood. Drape every last drop of the leftover sauce across the warm, crispy bread – don’t be shy, ask for more.

The kale salad (Dhs80) came highly recommended by the waiter and for good reason. A plate of thinly chopped kale, sprinkled with pomegranate and parmesan cheese, enlivened by a lemon vinaigrette leaves us pleasantly surprised and wanting more.

The Nice Guy

Now, there are few places in Dubai that do pizza quite like The Nice Guy. But what is it that makes it so sublime? Served piping hot, what’s striking about the burrata pizza (Dhs105) is the base: puffy and crispy yet soft and supple in the middle.

Another highlight was the rigatoni vodka (Dhs145) which came with a generous amount of seafood: lobster, shrimp, calamari – and al-dente pasta. The squid was ever-so-slightly undercooked but that didn’t stop us from soaking up every last drop of creamy sauce with truffle fries (Dhs60).

The waitress offers us another round of drinks and gives us her recommendations – an offer we couldn’t refuse. The Handsome Johnny (Dhs85) is their take on a classic espresso martini and, with the sweet addition of vanilla, a perfect end-of-meal nightcap.

Onto dessert, we were umming and ahhing between the warm chocolate chip cookies and the bread pudding. We went for the cookies and were a little disappointed when two cookies and a mug of cold milk landed on the table. There was nothing disappointing about the taste of the cookies but for it to have been worth Dhs55, we would have liked to see them served with something a little more than just milk.

Verdict: If you’re looking for a slick nightlife spot with incredible service, generous portions, and delicious cocktails then you’ve come to the right place. We wouldn’t label it fine dining, but it is a crowd-pleasing late-night menu, done well. You know? The type of food that encourages you to have a good time, engaging conversations, and nibble all night long.

The Nice Guy Dubai, Ground Floor, Emirates Towers Blvd, 12pm to 1am Mon to Weds, 12pm to 3am Thurs to Sun. Tel: (0)4 276 9888, @theniceguydubai

Images: Provided