Review: Sicilia (Fine Dining- Home-style Italian at Dubai)
Ibn Batuta Gate Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai
Let’s begin by saying it was an experience to cherish, the deliciousness lingers on even today as I share my experience 4 days later. If you are ever in Dubai and looking to experience some real home-style Italian cooking then Sicilia is ‘the’ place. A peek-a-boo into a wood fire-oven at the entrance was enough to set ablaze the appetite of the curious dinner in me. The spaced out interiors of walls lined up with framed photos, upturned barrels lined up with sparkling bottles of wines imported all the way from Sicilia, contemporary chandeliers hanging from the high arched roof casting soft light on the tables that were perfectly set with wine glasses, were all like a harmonious welcome to a great Country-home Italian dinning.
To set the mood further was the low-county music playing in the backdrop and our table that was set bang opposite the open serving station of the restaurant. It was amazing to see how the head Chef Stefano Ligori would personally check each plate after his assistants had served the dish to ensure that every dish was perfectly presented before sending out to be served. Cooking with the freshest of the ingredients that is available for the day is perhaps what made their cooking stand out. We were dying of hunger even before entering the restaurant and we skipped the starters and straightaway jump to the main course.
We flipped through the pages of the menu for only a few seconds and simply ordered pizzas for the fire oven was simply irresistible. We were a pack of four of which one was a vegetarian, so we first placed our ordered 2 pizzas one a veg Buffalo Caprese and the other a Calzone Boscaiolo and then started scanning their drinks menu to order our perfect glass of wine. I decided to start with a glass of sparkling white Sicilian Chardonnay that was swerved with an assorted basket of Italian breads and a delicious artichoke spread. By the time our pizzas were served we had already finished off the entire basket of bread in between our sips of the finest Sicilian wines. The pizzas were served absolutely hot right out of the fire oven, first to arrive was the Buffalo caprese with fresh tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, black olives and oreganos and it was a perfectly baked medium thick crust with fresh basil, tomatoes and delicious melting cheese, just what you want your basic o-fuss pizza to be. The next to arrive was my Calzone pizza with tomato, mozzarella, mushrooms, cooked ham and buffalo ricotta, at the chunky look of it I was first alarmed and had second thought whether I made the right choice, but all my doubts were proved wrong in no time. The moment I cut through the huge ‘Calzone Boscaiolo in front of me, melted cheese and a tomato puree came out oozing and no sooner that I popped a bite in my mouth I was lost in harmonious symphony of ham, cheese and tomato in a delicious bread. A repeat order of our wines by the glass and bites of our pizzas left our stomachs happily full as we popped the last bite into our mouth. Just as we decided to call for the cheque and the friendly chef Stefano came introducing himself to us. He first checked if we were having a nice time and then politely asked if we did try his special caramelized octopus, on hearing our answer in no and that we are already full he implored that we must come back for it one of the following days. Embarrassed at not having a look at the appetizers earlier I quickly flipped to the dessert page and called for my favorite tiramisu to end it up sweet. And in no time I was served a large portion of a no fuss tiramisu, simple and elegant presentation that was equally delicious and smooth as it went down my food pipe. The bill for our order of the 2 pizzas, a tiramisu, 4 glasses of wine, 2 double pegs of blended malt stood at AED 800 approx, not expensive for a 5-star hotel’s restaurant but I’d say exorbitant when you start converting it to INR.
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