Massimo Bottura is behind the world’s best restaurant. Torno Subito is his first restaurant outside of Italy. Does it measure up to inevitably high expectations?
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 retro elements continue with black and white polaroids hanging from the ceiling, interrupted by oversized beach ball lampshades. Meanwhile outside, colourful pedalos line the beach, a vintage gelato cart makes its way around tables at dessert and sand imported from Italy lays foundation for shaded booth tables where guests can dine on the sand. It’s a busy, bold, beachside restaurant, and ticks all the boxes when trying to recreate a retro summer holiday in 1960s Italy.
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.
Many of the staff have come from Massimo’s three-Michelin star Osteria Francescana in Modena, and talk animatedly and knowledgeably about the menu, which is a far more casual offering than its famous sister in Modena. After guiding us through our choices, staff swiftly bring out a panzanella soup amuse bouche which kicks things off deliciously. The tomato soup is rich and creamy, topped with crunchy bread and parmesan foam in a simple, winning combination.
To start, order The Uovo (Dhs95). We loved the flavour combination of the runny poached egg, crunchy green asparagus and the smoked Parmigiano Reggiano all together.
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The chef’s favourite pizza (Dhs120) might be the chef’s favourite, but sadly it isn’t ours, and we’re slightly disappointed by a dry dough, that can’t be disguised by layers of robiola cheese and fresh black truffle. A risotto terra e acqua (Dhs95 for medium size) fares much better. A slithery layer of langoustine lines the bowl, topped with risotto rice, porcini mushrooms and seasoned just-right with herbs. Medium size is more than enough if you’ve already had starters, although you may want to opt for the large if you’re only having one course.
The dark cherry cheesecake (Dhs55) is a perfectly balanced dish of light ricotta cheese, sweetened by a dark cherry sorbet and finished with the crunch of a pine nut crumble.
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.
W Dubai – The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, daily 12pm to 3pm and 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 245 5555. marriott.com