Words by Katrina Kufer
Amongst the fine dining Italian mainstays across Dubai, award-winning The Artisan Il Ristorante has reopened at a new location in the Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre after an 18-month closure. While it kept its simple and quality-focused pizzas available to the public during the Covid-19 lockdown, its fresh location – and slight conceptual adjustment to its full menu – is a warm welcome in more ways than one.
While a Middle Eastern outpost of Florence’s iconic three Michelin-star Enoteca Pinchiorri – founded in the 1970s by three Michelin-star chef Annie Féolde and her viticulturist husband Giorgio Pinchiorri – The Artisan is disarmingly relaxed, a surprise in light of the gravitas of its culinary team, ethos and location.
The menu is pleasantly varied without being overwhelmingly comprehensive and offers delights such as this branzino dish
With a kitchen led by head chef Luca Tresoldi – who oversaw the previous Dubai outlet as well as having worked under Féolde at Enoteca Pinchiorri for several years – the atmosphere at The Artisan is intimate and soothing, despite the vivid pops of teal, the glitzy brass details of its ‘Golden Age’ throw-back bar and rich veined marble tabletops. The energy embraces luxury but lightheartedly, and paired with elegant heartfelt Tuscan dishes, excellent Italian cocktails and a respectable regional Italian wine list, it becomes easy, if not necessary, to while away the afternoon on its velvet sofas.
The menu is pleasantly varied without being overwhelmingly comprehensive – a quality mirrored in the portions. Chef Tresoldi has put together an eclectic offering that speaks to authentic Italian sensibilities, from its Mepra flatware to Toscana-sourced olive oil or mozzarella from Campania, and takes diners on a comforting culinary journey while showcasing flexibility and ingenuity in discreet twists.
The balanced flavour-play of the more delicate dishes are what truly sing, like this carpaccio.
While almost any dish is a wise choice, the balanced flavour-play of the more delicate dishes are what truly sing. Think Vitello Tonnato served with a crisply refreshing celery salad (insalata di sedano); agnolotti del plin stuffed with pumpkin butter, sage, 30-month-aged parmigiano reggiano fondue, and topped with roasted Bronte pistachio for texture; or the must-have limone dessert, The Artisan’s take on a rum baba with candied Sorrento lemon, a Sorrento lemon sauce, and vanilla cream. There is little else to say other than the culinary sensitivity of these dishes is divine.
The restaurant’s homemade 72-hour fermented pizzas are popular and include a gently complex tartufo pizza with black truffle, potatoes, fontina and mozzarella cheese and chives. Enjoy fresh pasta and classic antipasti, such as slow cooked polpo croccate with a delicately crisp exterior balanced by lemon flavoured potato cream, green beans, Taggiasca olive sauce and purple potato confit. And indulge in secondi such as 12-hour slow cooked Wagyu beef cheek or il rombo al forno – a two kilo oven baked turbot with Taggiasca olives, Datterino tomatoes and potatoes.
Profiteroles are one of the many tasty desserts you’ll find hard to resist
The dishes speak to a focus on fresh, flavourful produce as much as they do to chef Tresoldi’s carefully honed network of suppliers of said high-quality ingredients, without which, the simplicity of the dishes would not be able to shine quite so brightly. There is a sense of genuineness which resonates throughout, likewise embodied in the presence of chef Tresoldi, who, charmingly, is ever-present on the restaurant floor, popping by each table. And if you’re lucky, he may even propose sending over a dessert ‘just like my grandmother makes’.
The Artisan dabbles unexpectedly in a refined-casual ambience, and it may be this understated and honest approach to culinary creation that forges a refreshing dining experience and sets it apart.
Address: Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre, Al Mustaqbal St, Za’abeelZa’abeel 2, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971 4 515 9999