Dubai’s food scene has evolved tremendously through the years with the significant aid of its diverse community. With Michelin Guide marking its debut in Dubai – the first ever edition in the United Arab Emirates, it further cements the position of the country as one of the frontrunners in serving opulent dining experiences.
Positioned in the upscale Waldorf Astoria in Dubai International Financial Centre, The Artisan II Ristorante has tantalized locals and tourists alike with its sophisticated and scrumptious culinary servings.
Headed by the young and masterful Chef Francesco Magro, this Michelin-selected chic restaurant has been serving one of the most authentic Italian dishes in Dubai, giving familiarity of what it’s like to dine luxuriously in Italy. His culinary experiences in the Atmosphere in Burj Khalifa, The Address Boulevard Hotel and Ristorante I Fratelli in Germany to name a few, have propelled his career.
The Artisan, as unique as its name, sticks to what it actually means by having commitment to craftsmanship. “Everything that we put into the table is handmade and most of our ingredients come from Italy,” Chef Francesco emphasized.
Attached to the traditional way of Italian dining, the restaurant focuses on the flavor of their dishes as the chef particularly knows how to get the best from his ingredients.
The ristorante exudes modest and elegant ambience perfect for an intimate lunch and dinner. Abstract art pieces adorned its walls paired with a warm and aesthetic vibe, giving diners a glimpse of what Italy is also known for – art. The art installation on the spacious wall forms a resemblance of scattered scallops while the cream upholstered chairs and posh orange and green sofas complement the white and gold interiors. The cocktail bar exudes regal beauty as it was complemented by the ruby red bar stool.
The mirror near the cocktail bar, that embellishes the wall, attracts attention as it gives an illusion of extra space which is pleasant as guests would not feel closed-in with other customers. Let’s not forget the music too. Smooth Italian music will greet you upon entering. The good thing is, the music is not too soft nor too loud as you can still converse with your companion while enjoying an elegant music background.
Food and presentation
For the business lunch, we started with the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal. The Bruschetta Al Pomodoro, with Altamura bread, Datterino tomato and basil pesto, was fantastic especially when paired with their Balsamic vinegar which was aged for 6 years. Their beef carpaccio, Carpaccio Di Fassona, was excellent as the finely sliced meat cured with Sorrento lemon melts in your mouth. The thin slices of Parmigiano Reggiano definitely complement its taste which makes it even more heavenly. Their Insalata Di Finocchi came as a surprise for us as we did not expect that fennel can taste as sumptuous as that. Considering the fennel as a traditional ingredient, it did not disappoint our palate. The balsamic and bergamot dressing, Parmigiano Reggiano and orange zest are well balanced which make a brilliant appetizer.
Moving on to the main course, we tried a variety as well. For the Tagliata, the beef striploin was cooked tenderly and juicy. The dish was particularly outstanding especially when eaten with the tomato, Parmigiano Reggiano and rocket pesto all at once. For the Filetto Di Orata Al Forno, the sea bream fillet was finely cooked so that there’s no fishy aftertaste. The virgin sauce complements the sea bream along with the tenderly roasted baby potatoes.
The Cannelloni is a great and delicious dish for dieting as there’s a thin line in distinguishing the taste of spinach from meat. However, the ricotta and spinach stuffing are a bit overwhelming as it overpowered the other ingredients.
For dessert, we had the Pasticciotto. This shortbread cake with custard cream and sour cherries is such a delight as it was served warm. The custard filling melts in the mouth and the amount of sugar topping is just right.
The presentation is aesthetically clean and it adds to the mood of the eatery as their cutleries are also from Italy.
The staff were very welcoming and were attentive to our needs and queries. With most of them working there for a long time already and seeing how they work together, they give an impression that they like what they do. It was also a breath of fresh air that the staff moved in a fast yet calm way, showing no signs of cramming which makes customers feel more comfortable.
When asked about what he is most passionate about being a chef, Francesco emphasized his love for learning new things every day and how learning is a never-ending process. This idea gives an importance on how they value feedback from customers and staff alike which result in giving excellent service and customer satisfaction.
Value for money
The three course meal of the seasonal Business lunch set for AED 120 per person is worth the price. The Artisan also offers Ala Carte which showcase traditional Italian dishes and Chef’s Special which changes every month depending on the focus of one ingredient. They also have Da Condividere which is excellent if you opt for sharing.
The restaurant also boasts of their pizza, fermented for 72 hours, which was often cited as one of the city’s best. Their slow-cooked octopus is chef recommended for the starters as well as the Gamberi, grilled king tiger prawns with Romanesco broccoli and lemon sauce for the main course.
It is important to note that while they focus on the key ingredients of their dishes in the kitchen, they also value their team as one of the elements on their road to success. With a mix of Chef Francesco’s years of experience, creativity and the hard work of his team, they were able to obtain such a feat which is synonymous to excellence in the culinary industry – being recommended and selected by the anonymous Michelin guide inspectors.
Overall, the Italian culinary prestige The Artisan II Ristorante offers will surely make you want to come back for more as they secure a spot as one of the gastronomic treasures of Dubai.