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26 May 2017Last updated
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Food | Reviews

Eight fashionable food hotspots in the UAE

Don’t believe the rumours about fashion lovers not eating – the truth is we’re as food-obsessed as anyone, but we love to do so in style. These local cafés measure up

Lindsay Judge
22 Mar 2017 | 03:56 pm

Antonio Marras Ristorante

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Shop and dine at Italian designer Antonio Marras’ recently opened fashion boutique/restaurant in Dubai’s City Walk. The fashion mogul, who previously designed for Kenzo, has also brought sister brand I’m Isola Marras to the region. When you’re done browsing the latest ready-to-wear collections for men and women, relax in the Italian restaurant, which serves classic traditional cuisine with a stylish twist. The menu, which has been created by Italian chef Domenico Santagada, includes antipasti sharing dishes as well as pasta, meat and fish. Dessert includes tiramisu and gelato ice cream.

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Each part of the design of the store was chosen by Antonio himself, from the recycled oak parquet flooring to 
the French Aubusson carpets to the floral wallpaper. Expect to pay Dh200 for a three-course meal. Find it at The Boulevard, City Walk 2; call 055 372 6843.

Il Borro

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The family behind the Salvatore Ferragamo fashion brand recently opened Tuscan Bistro Il Borro at the new Jumeirah Al Naseem hotel. Named after the Il Borro estate in Tuscany, which is owned by the fashion family, the restaurant brings the taste of Tuscan cuisine to the UAE – by importing ingredients from the gardens of the Il Borro Relais and Chateaux estate in Tuscany to Dubai, four times a week.

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Il Borro has a relaxed and modern atmosphere that encapsulates the fashion brand. The Ferragamo company is currently run by Salvatore’s son Ferruccio Ferragamo and his four siblings (Salvatore Ferragamo himself died in 1960 after founding to fashion brand almost 40 years before). The menu consists of antipasti sharing dishes, pizza, pasta and oven-baked dishes; executive chef Andrea Campani wanted to put a modern twist on classic recipes making sure they look as appealing as Ferragamo’s fashion creations. Expect to pay Dh400 for a three-course meal; call 04 275 5555.

Bulgari Il Cioccolato

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First they brought us luxury jewellery – now Roman brand Bulgari are bringing us luxury chocolate, at boutique Bulgari Il Cioccolato. The second café concept from Bulgari (the first was in Tokyo) features sweet treats and drinks, which are handmade at the Bulgari workshop by a master chocolatier. All the menu items have an Italian influence and ingredients include Mediterranean saffron and Sicilian pistachio. They are presented in luxury jewellery cases, just as Bulgari’s diamonds.

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Either dine in on the sweet treats with a tea or coffee in the café (complete with Bulgari interiors, and images of celebrities wearing Bulgari jewellery, naturally), or take your chocolates away to indulge at home or give as a gift. There’s also some interesting flavours to try including fig and balsamic vinegar, and lavender and salt. To mark the opening of the café earlier this year Bulgari produced a limited-edition chocolate called Bulgari Dates and Pistachio. Expect to pay Dh150 for a box. It’s at the indoor courtyard at City Walk 2; call 04 385 6179.

Armani/Dubai Caffé and Emporio Armani Caffé

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Armani/Dubai Caffé in The Dubai Mall is classic chic and minimalistic, much like designer and founder Giorgio Armani’s fashion designs. The Italian restaurant and café serves traditional dishes, in line with the designer’s other food ventures in Milan, London and Paris. Armani/Dubai Afternoon Tea in Style (Dh149), available on weekdays between 3-6pm, is a must-try – the glamorous selection of sweet and savoury treats is the perfect way to end a day of shopping in The Dubai Mall.

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The sister café Emporio Armani caffé now has two branches in the UAE. This more casual dining experience has a huge dessert menu, plus hot and cold savoury dishes designed by the Armani Group’s corporate chef in Milan. Traditional dishes get a modern twist. Of course, in true Armani style, presentation is everything, so each dish is a work of art, created with minimalistic colourful designs. Must-tries include the impressive selection of salads and the Italian sharing platters. Make sure you leave space for dessert – the fresh cakes and pastries are incredible. In true Italian style the restaurant recommends finishing your dish with a shot of espresso. Outlets are at the Galleria on Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi (02 676 6995) and Mall of the Emirates, Dubai (04 341 0591). Expect to pay Dh175 for a three-course meal.

Cavalli Club

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It may be one of Dubai’s longest-standing nightclubs, but Cavalli Club’s restaurant takes its food very seriously. Everything about this restaurant captures the Roberto Cavalli brand – from the animal-print chairs to the Cavalli-designed crockery, to the engraved cutlery; this meal is going to be glamorous, much like the brand itself.

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Not to be missed are the Midnight Brunch (Dh250), which takes place late in the evening every Sunday and Wednesday, and the all-you-can-eat sushi and bubbles night (Dh299). If you want to splash out, try the lobster and beef fillet to get the full Cavalli experience – over-the-top but seriously satisfying!

Finish with the huge selection of Italian gelato and sorbet, then get ready to dance the night away as the restaurant turns into a nightclub late in the evening.

Also, The Jazz Room, a room located within the main club, has re-opened. The soundproof room with private bar is open to guests every Wednesday and Thursday. Fairmont Dubai, Shaikh Zayed Road, 04 332 9260.

GF Ferré Chocolate Bar

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This café is inspired by the designs of late Italian fashion designer Gianfranco Ferré, known as the architect of fashion. This place is all about presentation which (unfortunately for us) means some of their dishes look just too good to eat (don’t worry, we still eat them!) The breakfasts here are hugely popular, but don’t miss out on creating your own chocolate fondue (from Dh55), where you can choose your favourite chocolate and the items to dip. First floor, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai; call 056 188 3849.

Vogue Café

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Vogue Café has recently made a new attempt to entice fashion- and food-conscious women, with its latest menu upgrade. Using some of the most popular ingredients of the moment, including lavender and quinoa, this chic café and restaurant located within The Dubai Mall’s Level Shoe District aims to attract stylish men and women who know their kale from their rocket.

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But it’s not all just about being healthy – the new burrata ciabatta, lavender crème brûlée and chocolate mandarin tart won’t help your waistline, but will undoubtedly taste delicious. While enjoying the new menu, expect to be surrounded by covers from previous editions of the magazine, and there are also current and past issues that you can flick through to keep you busy while eating.

While the prices are surprisingly reasonable (around Dh80 for a main course), your credit card is sure to take a beating in the surrounding shoe stores including Gucci, Prada, Christian Louboutin and more. Call 04 501 6810.

Nonno

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Nonno is a pizza restaurant and delivery service aimed at fashion-conscious women. The locally run company was created for women who want to eat pizza, but without the bloat after the meal.

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None of the pizza bases here contain yeast, sugar or salt, and there are a number of dishes that are under 400 calories. Nonno claims to have ‘the world’s thinnest pizza’ at just 0.4cm, but the base still tastes delicious with its huge selection of menu toppings, which include fashionably named menu items: Fashion Week, Size Zero and Red Carpet pizzas, as well as dessert items such as The Make-up Artist and Hazelnut Chocolate Clutch. The quirky concept provides quite a unique twist (even if you are ultimately eating a pizza!). It’s located in Bay Avenue, Business Bay, and expect to pay Dh50 for a pizza. Call 800 696 6666.

Lindsay Judge

Lindsay Judge

Fashion Editor