A storied London restaurant gets Dubai’s golden touch… 

New Dubai restaurants typically tend to embrace a modern aesthetic: minimalistic in design, neutral in colour, spacious in layout. But the newest addition to St Regis Gardens, Signor Sassi, is anything but.

It won’t surprise anyone familiar with the original in London, a storied Italian born in the 1980s. Its charming staff, kitsch décor and menu of classics have served as much as a time capsule as they have a restaurant. The newly opened Dubai iteration emulates this quintessentially Italian design DNA, but feels elevated in keeping with its chic surroundings. A smart navy blue façade lets you know you’re in the right place, then once inside, it’s an amalgam of beautiful shades of bronze, gold and emerald green that are rich and retro. Dark wood cabinets, marble pillars, verdant plants, twinkling chandeliers and even an olive tree make the restaurant feel grand and delightfully busy. Guests spill out from the bar down into the more formal dining area, which will soon lead to a large alfresco terrace that mirrors the glitzy feel of the restaurant.

Service is warm and slick, and managers in smart suits pass by from time to time, genuinely eager to ensure we’re having a good time. The menu is expansive, so we’re happy to be guided to ensure we try a few Signor Sassi signatures. Much of the menu has come straight from the London original, although there’s notable Dubai additions, including a ‘crudi’ section with a selection of caviar and oysters.

We stick with the classics and kick off with the vitello tonnato (Dhs95), thin slices of tender veal are topped with a creamy mayonnaise, capers and sundried tomatoes; and a traditional Tuscan salad of breasaola, rocket and parmesan that’s drizzled with balsamic (Dhs95). Both are full of flavour and generous portions that can comfortably be shared between three or four. The aubergine parmigiana (Dhs90) is a bit forgettable, lacking the star power in terms of presentation and taste that are found in so many other dishes. We split mains so that a pasta course comes next, ordering the famous spaghettini with lobster (Dhs260) without hesitation. The pasta-sauce ratio is just to our liking, with delicate spaghetti ribbons nicely al dente, and each chunk of lobster fresh and meaty. The veal Milanese (Dhs320) is another generous portion that’s good to share, piled high with matchstick-like potato sticks. The veal is lightly breadcrumbed and the meat cutlet delicate, but without sides it’s a little dry – so be sure to order the brocoletti (Dhs50). The standout dish – although the lobster pasta is a close second – is the Wagyu ribeye (Dhs420), an impossibly buttery and perfectly cooked piece of beef with thin broccolini stems and crispy roast potatoes.

As we conclude back with the classics, a simple bowl of vanilla gelato (Dhs130) is given an Instagram-worthy upgrade when served up tableside into crunchy brioche buns.

Somewhere between sticking to its authentic roots and playing into the palettes of the modern Dubai diner, Signor Sassi Dubai is a restaurant that’s sure to make its mark.

Verdict: This stalwart London restaurant sticks to its DNA, and it works.

Signor Sassi Dubai, St Regis Gardens, Palm Jumeirah, 6pm to 2am Mon to Thurs, 12pm to 3pm and 6pm to 2am Fri to Sun. Tel: (0)4 278 4848. signorsassidubai.com