What’s a new property without a brand new restaurant? Continuing my exploration of Italian cuisine (this makes my 4th tasting in a month,
perhaps I’ll be an expert by the time I depart for Rome next month…) in the UAE, I was happy to find a mid-week lunch spot at Quattro Passi located at the recently opened Viceroy Palm Jumeirah. The interior (both in the restaurant and the hotel) is chic, modern, and well appointed. When presented with the menu, after a quick review, the waiter suggested I might enjoy a degustation from the kitchen. Yes, please! And would I like a wine pairing to accompany the dishes? Yes, thank you! While I understand my scenario was provided because I was dining to review the venue (and therefore wanted to try as much of the menu as possible), I would encourage you to request something similar. The wait staff are all knowledgeable, professional, and friendly — I’m sure they could work with you to find the right number of courses and proteins you enjoyed. Or, you know, just order ala carte. You do you. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
With a glass of prosecco presented in record time (Prosecco DOC, Scavi & Ray), after a selection of fresh bread and perfectly poured olive oil, the meal proceeded with Antipasti, in this case: Pizzetta Fritta (perhaps ‘Pizzetta’ translates to tiny pizza, I’m not sure, but paired with San Marzano tomato jam, it was sweet and a lovely place to start), Tagliatella di calamari frutto della passione (that would be squid tagliatella — creatively textured ‘pasta’ made from squid and quite flavorful), and Polpo arrostito (roasted octopus with green bean cream, a lovely light note). The plating on all three dishes was visually pleasing, not overly fussy, and each dish included appropriate portion sizes and textures. As opposed to some of the more traditional Italian plates I’ve had recently, the construction of the courses at Quattro Passi was done with a noticeably professional hand.
After a short respite, the Primi Piatti were served, including the restaurant’s signature dish, Linguine alla Nerano (a deceptively simple combination of pasta, parmesan, and vegetables that pack a superb punch), and my favorite dish of the day, Riso Ferron gamberi e agrumi (a risotto-like pasta filled with sweet prawns and notes of citrus). With a perfectly ratio of prawns to pasta, I would 10/10 order again.
In the Secondi Piatti courses, I had Branzino (enjoyed with marinated onion, cauliflower and lemon, my only note would be a speck of sea salt and a tad crispier skin on the fish), and Carre di Agnello (the tiniest roasted lamb chops with pistachio and sweet potato, the creamy starch making this plate a real winner).
We finished sweetly with Baba Napoletano crema pasticcera, where I had to hold my hands and say, ‘enough.’ Rum soaked goodness aside, I had no more room left to enjoy.
A minor quick note so that I won’t get called out for being a hypocrite… As we all know, with a lack of service water, I’m a huge fan of local water being available at restaurants (or, at the very least, water that doesn’t cost more the AED20 for a bottle). Color me surprised when there was an entire menu at the restaurant devoted just to fancy bottles of water! So, while on paper the venue is on the opposite side of the spectrum to my own tastes, I suppose if you’re going to do water, then go big or go home (and yes, I enjoyed sparkling waters from both Italy and Switzerland).
Overall, I sincerely appreciated the restaurant’s ability to work with my request for smaller portions. While I did eat quite a bit of food, I left the meal not overfull or intoxicated, but instead the perfect medium of quite full and rosy (for lack of a better adjective). The pacing of the meal was spot on, with the wait staff easily picking up on my cues (perhaps a touch fast, but because I started my lunch quite late, I completely respect the kitchen wanting to move me along so they could break / prep before dinner service).
Would I go back? You bet! Think of the Viceroy as a sleeker, more sophisticated version of the other Palm properties (I’ll be reviewing my stay shortly). While I suppose there is a time and place for the Atlantis, give me a beautifully plated meal at the Viceroy Palm Jumeirah any day (especially when I don’t have to travel the length of the Palm to get there). Furthermore, Quattro Passi does a Friday brunch, which I would love to try (and imagine would be a fantastic way to sample a decent part of the menu, should you be interested). To those living on the Shoreline or Golden Mile, I would encourage you to stop in (head up first to Elevate for a drink to kickstart an enjoyable evening). Prices seem in line with comparable restaurants.
I think I’ve asked previously, but where’s your favorite Italian restaurant in the UAE?