Acquisition of Roberto in Dubai: Exquisite Italian-Asian fusion…

I was invited to an event hosted by Roberto’s at the Ritz Carlton this week where the restaurant’s chefs from Dubai and Jordan worked side by side to create a memorable collaborative menu.Add an adI had experienced Roberto’s luxurious dining experience a few months earlier and when invited to the shared dining experience I jumped at the chance and hoped their signature pistachio ice cream drizzled with olive oil would be part of the menu.

For those new to the place, Roberto’s is a food and drink venue that always offers a unique experience. It’s more than just a restaurant – divided into a fine dining area and a lounge area with upbeat music and a lively atmosphere. The bar is chic and welcoming and offers a nice selection of specialty cocktails.

Last time I ate in the fine dining area so this time we chose the lounge area to try everything the place has to offer.

The first course: whet your appetiteThe cuisine could be described as Italian-Asian fusion – an interesting combination, to say the least.

I saw in that moment and in my Cacio-e-Pepe moment the fascinating thought process of chefs pushing the boundaries of dishes and food norms and creating a very outstanding culinary journey.

First on the menu was the stuzzichini, from the Italian verb for “to whet the appetite”. In other words, this class consisted of appetizers like tuna tartare, wagyu tacos, and fried cannolos.

The tuna tartare was served on a salty cracker mixed with mustard, shiso leaf (Asian leaf from the mint family) and oscietra caviar (Ossetra sturgeon). It was on point in terms of taste. The mustard balanced with the tuna wasn’t overwhelming, and the cracker added crunch and saltiness, while the shiso leaf enhanced the bite. The dish was served on a bed of fennel and cornseed, giving it a rustic feel and a hint of fennel that made for an exciting blend of flavors.


The tacos were filled with Wagyu tartar and topped with cilantro, lime and microgreens. I was happy to see that the tacos were served with beef tartare instead of tuna to start. The combination of flavors in this amuse bouche was spot on as well. However, I would have liked a little less mayonnaise – swapping out the mayonnaise swirls for droplets would still add creaminess but not overpower the dish.

The final starter was the fried cannolo with spinach and sour gel. Cannolo is Italian for “small tube” and is reminiscent of the Italian pastry “cannoli”. Cannolo is a smaller version – a savory dish filled with spinach and a sour jelly on top. This was an excellent vegetarian option perfect for a canape service.

Overall, the Stuzzichini were very well thought out. We got off to a good start.

The second course: ready-made appetizersThe second course started with a squid dish and a miso and avocado dish.

The squid was slow roasted and served with artichoke and cacio e pepe sauce, a parmesan and pepper sauce usually served with pasta. Some say it’s the origin of alfredo sauce but without the cream, where the parmesan plays a role in creaming the liquid from the pasta water. In this case, thinking of cacio e pepe beyond its traditional role in pasta as part of a hot appetizer was quite surprising and unconventional.

However, the artichokes could have been substituted for me with another ingredient that was more sustainable and fresh than canned. (Artichokes are usually in season from March to May, and Jerusalem artichokes are available until August.)

Now for the miso avocado served with crackers: it was a great sharing dip with a very interesting blend of flavors, as guacamole often goes under the radar for creative interpretations, save for the occasional unadventurous dusting of paprika.

I saw in that moment and in my Cacio-e-Pepe moment the fascinating thought process of chefs pushing the boundaries of dishes and food norms and creating a very outstanding culinary journey.

The third course: thoughtful main coursesThe starters came with ravioli filled with burrata in a cherry tomato sauce. What I loved about this dish was the freshness of the burrata in the ravioli. Luckily it wasn’t mixed with other cheeses to overpower it and I loved that the sauce wasn’t weighed down with herbs. The dish spoke for itself: light, balanced, creamy and delicious.

A saffron risotto was then served with a slow-cooked veal shank stew. Saffron can be overwhelming despite being an elite spice; it can give off a bitter taste when overused in a dish. Such was the case with this dish, which was difficult to assimilate given the strong, overly pungent saffron flavor. The risotto was also slightly overcooked – a forgivable offense given that Amman pallets tend to favor well-cooked risottos.

While slow-cooking tough meat helps break down its tough connective tissue and tenderize it — and as nice as it is to see a veal shank stew — the shank could have been cooked a little longer to be a bit more tender.

The grilled rack of lamb, black cabbage and roasted cauliflower formed the main course of the meal. Looking at the perfectly medium-rare cut of lamb on this plate made me appreciate the technology behind a sous vide machine, which ensures the meat is consistently cooked to perfection at a specific temperature. The black cabbage was a treat, the creamy cauliflower puree was buttery soft and the roasted cauliflower was well cooked. In terms of taste and appearance, this dish hit the mark.

The final course: Dreams come trueWe had finally reached my favorite part of the meal: dessert. I was waiting for this pistachio ice cream to make its grand entrance and it finally did in all its glory. Chocolate mousse was also served, along with tiramisu, a passion fruit cheesecake and croissants. I was surprised the chocolate mousse was served alongside ice cream as they have similar textures. But interestingly it worked.

We couldn’t pick a favorite as all the desserts were delicious – the only thing I didn’t like about the desserts was sharing them!

The Final VerdictIn my opinion, the entire experience of dining at Roberto’s with this unique culinary fusion menu can only be truly appreciated by those familiar with different cuisines and cooking techniques. In general, I’m rarely surprised by a dish that disrupts my cognitive thought process, but it happened in the most delicious way a few times during this trip.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed setting for your dining experience at Roberto’s, the ambience of the lobby dining area is upbeat. One last note: the service was friendly and hospitable – from the security check at the entrance to the busser clearing the tables.

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