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.
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.
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.
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