I must admit that before I came to Dubai, I associated Shopping Mall dining to fast food eateries and family casual dining associating it with pizza, pasta, burger and fried chicken meals interspersed with a few average coffee shops. A lot has happened since then and in particular the mall dining scene in Dubai is now big business and not just for the lower to medium end of eateries.
I was recently invited to have lunch at the recently opened new Emporio Armani Caffe at Mall of the Emirates which is the second Armani Caffe in Dubai, the other one being at Dubai Mall. I’ve often walked past the Dubai Mall one and it’s always busy so I was keen to check out the new location. Situated in the Fashion/Luxury Part of Mall of the Emirates (close to the Prayer Room), there are two parts to the Caffe. For those who like to see and be seen, you can dine outside the main restaurant in a sectioned off part of the mall , or for those who want to feel that they are somewhere more exclusive dine inside where the setting is elegant and stylish and a bit more comfortable.
We visited at 3pm on a Thursday and the Caffe was busy with only a few empty seats inside, clientele was mixed, from tourists to fashionistas and foodies it seems. Offering an Italian menu using quality ingredients the concept is created by Giorgio Armani and has been designed to reflect his personal taste in classic Italian cuisine. The menu is large, but not overwhelming and I’m pleased to see that there is a breakfast menu and have made a mental note to pop back another time.
Our waitress was extremely helpful in describing each dish and it was easy to make selections as there were so many dishes that took our fancy.
We started off with a few mocktails which were good, and not too sweet as is often the case.
Moving swiftly on we were treated to a beautiful bread basket with tapenade and tomato sauce which was too good and moreish …then we moved onto some serious starters with
- Insalata Di Tonno Fresco E Malanzane Sott’olio
- Fresh Tuna Coated in Black Pepper and Sesame Seeds Crust, Mixed Salad, Cherry Tomatoes and Aubergines in Oil
- Minestrone Emporio Armani con Funghi di Bosco, Concasse di Pomodoro e Crostini di Altamura
- Minestrone with Mixed Forest Mushrooms and Altamura Croutons
- Mozzarella di Bufalo con Pomodoro, Salsa Fredda di Pachino ed Olio al Basilco
- Buffalo Mozarella Cheese, Tomato, Cold Pachino Sauce and Basil Oil
All were visually appealing and tasted fresh, the tuna was perfectly seared and the salad dressed with just the right level of dressing. The Mozarella cheese, was as expected, rich, creamy and indulgent and perfectly offset with the basil oil and tasty tomatoes. My only criticism would be that these are massive starter portions, and I would happily have either of these dishes as a main course or as a starter to share, the only problem then being that there were too many starters that I fancied and one wouldn’t be enough to satisfy my taste buds….
Moving onto mains there were two dishes that jumped off of the menu and which we ordered without hesitation.
- Costoletta di Vitello, Alla Milanese con Rucolu e Pomodorini
- Milanese-Style Veal Chop with Rocket and Cherry Tomatoes
I was only recently introduced to Veal and I have fallen in love with it. The Veal Chop, was coated in a crispy outer shell of breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese and was juicy and succulent inside despite being fried. Big enough for sharing (or for taking half home as I did) this was again a huge portion, but such a tasty one I’m sure I will be returning to dine on this again and again.
- Stinco D’Agnello Brasata, fagioli all’uccelletto, scarola saltata
- Slow cooked lamb shank, cannellini bean, sautéed escarole salad
Since I was only given a tiny forkful of the lamb I know that this was good. Juicy, succulent and oh so tender the lamb melted in my mouth and my companion ate it quickly and with relish, saying the he could have eaten the dish twice over, which isn’t a criticism on the size of the dish, as there was plenty, but is a compliment to how tasty he found the lamb.
To be honest, by this stage we were full, but we were persuaded to have dessert, and I’m glad that we did. Earlier during lunch I had spied a few ladies coming into the Caffe purely for dessert and coffee, something I recommend you do instead of visiting a coffee shop. The ladies mainly ordered two dishes, the Tiramisu and Chocolate Fondant. I’m not a Chocolate Fondant lover, it’s way too chocolatey for me – go figure ! So we ordered the following :
- Tiramisu Caffe Armani, Con Gelato al Tiramisu
- Armani Caffe Tirimisu with Tiramisu Ice Cream
This time, I wasn’t allowed a single spoonful of the dessert, and judging by how quickly it was consumed, I know it was good.
- Panna Cotta, meringhe, frutti di bosco, sorbetto al lampone
- Pannacotta, red fruits, meringues, forest fruit sorbet
I choose a rich and indulgent Pannacotta, which came surrounded in fresh fruits, with tiny meringues and with a scoop of sorbet. The dish was divine, rich creamy vanilla pannacotta with just the right amount of wobble, was offset with the fruits and the crunch from the meringue added a pleasant extra dimension. The sorbet for me was not required, but tasted delicious all the same.
Finally we ended lunch with good Italian coffee before heading home with a few takeaway boxes of leftovers to be enjoyed another time. If you are shopping in the mall and want a decent Italian meal then this could be a great stop off for you, open from breakfast through to dinner and popular as a ‘Tiramisu and Cafe Latte’ stop too, the Caffe has a lot to offer (although sadly it’s not licensed for alcohol which would just add the final touch #WishfulThinking)
Disclaimer : I was a guest of Emporio Armani Cafe, however all opinions are my own. All images taken by me on my visit.