Another day, another
bad Italian meal.
Carnevale brings the rich flavours and scents of Italy to Jumeirah Beach Hotel.
A genuine passion for authentic Italian cuisine is apparent from your very first step into Carnevale. The restaurant breathes classical European style and offers all the charm and a warm sociability you might find in a bustling Milanese Tratorria or Roman café. Yet the view beyond is unique to Carnevale. The awe-inspiring Burj Al Arab, tranquil gardens surrounding Jumeirah Beach Hotel and the eye-catching marina collectively complete the perfect dining experience.
Carnevale’s exceptional menu comprises of an extensive selection of beautifully considered dishes with a generous variety of sophisticated wines and spirits; choices range from bold reds and fresh whites to aperitifs and liqueurs. If you have difficulty selecting only one dish, Carnevale’s accommodating staff are always on hand to offer honest advice.
With the option of outdoor or indoor dining as well as private rooms, an evening at Carnevale promises a timeless culinary delight with an atmosphere as charming as the food.
I’m still waiting for my copywriting job in Dubai, friends.
Much like Frankie’s, this was another four-course affair, starting with raw red prawns (AED125), then moving to black spaghettini with baby squids (AED115), sea bass fillet with mashed fennel and anise broth (AED165) and finishing with flavors of tiramisu with spices (AED55). Unlike Frankie’s who set the menu, this particular menu was offered ala carte (with prices listed by the course).
Unfortunately, exactly like Frankie’s, the meal was wildly overpriced, and the food did not live up to expectations. As a matter of opinion, I find the Jumeirah Beach Hotel dated, and the restaurant seems to suffer from a similar design. While the location is perfect (honestly, who doesn’t want to look at the Burj Al Arab all night?), the outside seating I found to be quite cramped and with a mismatch of chairs, a strange choice.
My issues with the overall design aside, I will start by saying that in eight courses between my dining partner and I, we would only order one again. Rather than get involved in each dish, I’ll try and summarize my experience and include a few suggestions.
- Real butter. Guys, I’m coming out with a shallow point first, but when one is paying upwards of AED100 per dish, one deserves butter that does not come in a packet.
- Fresh bread. While Frankie’s had a delicious selection, and Ronda Locatelli’s was at least average, the pastry chef at Carnevale needs to get their act together. In an entire basket, each piece was decidedly stale and bland. I would pull the offer completely until recipes were changed.
- A new Burrata supplier. Burrata cheese is one of those incredible products that I would eat almost anywhere for any reason. However, when served with parsley and (canned?!) tomato sauce, it quickly loses its appeal. Add to this a very thick rind (yuck!) and none of the creamy or saltiness that is associated with this product, and you have two very depressed food bloggers.
- Knowledge of the menu. As I ordered the special Italian Summit menu, I asked if there were any suggested wine pairings and basically got a shrug in response. I’m not saying a waiter has to review the entire wine list, but some awareness would have been helpful. (This was also the case at Ronda Locatelli).
- Someone who knows how to make creme brulee. No, really. With huge sugar granules, an undercooked center, and a top that tipped from crispy to burned, this was an insult to the dish. We both agreed a novice home chef could do better.
- Someone who understands portion sizes. My spaghettini was out of control. While I thought the color was interesting, the black pasta didn’t add anything to the flavor, and the baby squids were difficult to find. The best part about the dish was the fresh Parmesan shaved tableside.
- Why is the best view of the Burj a small table for smokers?
- With the cost of wine, given how expensive just my half of the meal would have been, I am disappointed for tourists or residents who visit this venue. For the amount of the meal, there are many other excellent restaurants in the city worth spending at.
No, Carnevale, I will not be returning.
As a final note, the strangest thing to me is that I flipped over to Trip Advisor to see what people thought and turns out they LOVE this restaurant. Do they like overpaying for average Italian?
A to Za’atar was a guest of Zomato UAE and the Italian World Culinary Summit 2016. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.