The passion of I
T A L Y
the heart of Dubai
by Sangeetha Swaroop
is no one word to describe Italian cuisine; it is a combination of flavours and
ingredients, and the taste and kind of food prepared differs as you travel north
to south of the country. But for those who want to sample the delights of the
Tuscan sun and delve into the myriad meat dishes of the north, while at the same
time relishing its coastal fish fare too, there could be no better place to head
to than Luciano’s at the Al Habtoor Grand Resort & Spa in Dubai.
Located at Dubai Marina in Jumeirah, this casual Italian bistro, facing the
poolside, offers a rich variety of food from pasta, pizza and risotto to the
traditional seafood, meat and chicken dishes. With a treasure trove of photos
adorning its walls, each with a different story to tell, and with its ceiling
decorated with bottles of wine and bunches of grapes, the ambience inside is
truly innovative and dreamlike. Here, one has the option of indoor or alfresco
dining on the picturesque terraces – one that faces the pool and an upper
terrace facing a water slide.
The mood is romantic, especially in the evenings as the last rays of the sun
glimmer on the garden pool, and you catch the strain of Italian music in the
background. But the success of a restaurant lies not solely in its ambience. The
food too has to impress and here again, Luciano’s delivers its best, for
traditional Italian fare seldom tasted so good.
From the choicest antipasti to a hearty selection of soups and a range of
homemade pizzas with almost 10 different types of sauces, Luciano’s also offers
a delectable variety of seafood and meat dishes. Its pasta and risotto range is
more than enough to satisfy even the most finicky Italian cuisine aficionado. A
prime favourite in the starters or antipasti section is Gamber Saltai, a prawn
dish sautéed with garlic, parsley and olive oil, and served with rocket leaves
and sun dried tomato pesto. Not to be missed is also Carpaccio di manzo con
parmiggiano, a serving of thinly sliced raw beef tenderloin on mustard
mayonnaise topped with rocket leaves, olive oil and parmesan shavings.
The choice in soups ranges from Mediterranean seafood soup to the mushroom soup
and fresh vegetable soup. The seafood selection is bound to satisfy all fish
lovers with its choice of lobster, prawn, hammour, salmon and a host of
shellfishes on the menu. For instance, the Mixed Seafood Platter at Dhs 280 for
two people with an assortment of hammour, prawn, squid, lobster and mussels,
grilled and served with vegetables and lemon butter sauce is a gourmet’s
Not to be outdone are the selection on the meat menu where there is an assorted
range of dishes serving chicken and baby chicken, beef fillet and beef sirloin,
classical veal shank and veal escalope as well as lamb. Chicken and lamb dishes
reign as the top favourites particularly; the grilled lamb chops infused with
garlic, chilli, rosemary and balsamic reduction and served with fried onion
rings, water cress and tomato salsa.
Of course, no Italian dining experience can be complete without a taste of
pastas and pizzas and here too, Luciano’s dishes up quite an abundant variety of
traditional homemade dishes, with the freshest of ingredients and with a truly
authentic Italian touch. From healthy spinach pasta with assorted steamed
vegetables to homemade pasta with minced beef, or the special combination of
mushroom ravioli with creamy pesto sauce and the Linguini pasta with prawns,
tomato and cream, the choice here is endless.
A particular highlight is the
Spaghetti alla gamberi or spaghetti with prawns, olive oil, chilli, garlic and
parsley. In sauces, the all-time favourite continues to be the chilli-spiced
rich tomato sauce popularly called Arrabbiata but with a range of almost 10
different freshly made sauces, there is something to cater to every taste bud.
In June, guests can enjoy a Live Cooking Pasta Promotion where you can choose
your own pasta and sauce and witness it cooked right in front of your eyes.
A pizza oven in the restaurant ensures that guests can watch their pizza being
done to perfection with the toppings of their choice. These freshly made pizza
are available in small or normal size and the topping choices are aplenty – from
tomato, mozzarella and basil pesto, onion, mushroom, eggplant, bell pepper,
black olives and artichoke, shrimp, mussel, fish squid, mushroom, tomato,
oregano, onion and green chilli, or anchovies, olives, beef salami and green
capsicum etc. In the risotto range, it is the wild mushroom risotto that is the
Luscious desserts are the perfect complement to end the meal. The traditional
Tiramisu Grande with mascarpone cream, dark chocolate and custard cream is
highly recommended. Or if you choose, you can also indulge in an assorted Cheese
Platter with a selection of authentic Italian Talegio, Pecorino, Gorgonzola and
Parmesan cheese with savoury biscuits.
Luciano’s is one of the many gems at Habtoor hotel’s premium location the
Habtoor Grand Resort & Spa; its informal, friendly atmosphere combines with its
location at pool side, near the lonely gardens and only a short walk to the
beach, to give a wonderful setting for a fabulous meal. And no doubt – their
food if of the finest available in Dubai!