Following a long hot second day at the beach, we wanted convenience and easy casual dining. We had visited Marco Pierre White Steakhouse and Grill the evening before (read review) and were ready to venture out with a walk down to Souk Al Beri
With some of our party experiencing a strong hankering for Italian, we walked past Azzurro and were instantly enticed by the friendly manager came out to greet us. Service was very prompt with drinks arriving within minutes. As we discussed ordering several starters to share, the manager advised on the most popular dishes. My friend asked if there is tortellini available and the manager said he would check. We ordered gnocchi in a cream sauce, bruschetta and fried calamari to share.
A few minutes later, we found ourselves being greeted by the smiling Chef Giancarlo Campoli. He offered to prepare a goats cheese and spinach ravioli instead which arrived at the same time as our starters. The texture of the fresh homemade pasta was perfectly al dente, the delicate balance of flavours with the cheesy spinach filling and cream sauce left us wanting more. So, when the waiter came for our mains order, we asked for more ravioli and asked very nicely if the Chef decide on the rest of our meal.
With the request, out came the cheerful Chef again, looking just as delighted as us! He checked on our preferences before disappearing back into the kitchen.
At this point the restaurant was full, we wondering how the chef can pay us so much attention while managing a busy kitchen. The manager was active on the floor and the restaurant staff looked very well coordinated. I was impressed by how much the entire team looked like they were enjoying the customers and the company.
Our mains came out. More ravioli; a seafood platter of lobster, calamari, crab and fish; a beef platter of garlic beef, beef with blue cheese and cabbage, beef and rocket; and finally a separate lasagna came for one of our party who was not a seafood fan.
The food was fresh, simple and bursting with flavour. Our conversation turned to comparing our evening to holiday experiences in Italy. The ambience, food, staff and, of course, Chef Giancarlo, had convincingly transported us to the Mediterranean.
Desserts arrived in the form of profiteroles and tiramisu. Just as fresh and delicious as the previous dishes. As the bill arrived, we re-enacted scenes from The Trip where Steve Coogen and Rob Brydon travel through gastronomical Italy guessing the cost of every meal. The price was surprisingly lower than the value we felt the restaurant deserved, coming in at around 300 AED per head, and included everything – the feast of dishes, wine and beer.
Incredible value for money, quality of food and memorable warmth of hospitality, I can’t recommend this restaurant enough. Located near to the Grand Mosque it is certainly worth considering in a day trip itinerary.