Tasted: Don Alfonso 1890, Shangri-La, Sheikh Zayed Road

Does this Dubai eatery stack up to its two Michelin star sister restaurant in Naples?

June 14, 2014

VENUE

From the polished marble flooring and dim mood lighting, to the dark wood slatted walls and pristine white tablecloths, this newly opened Italian restaurant smacks of Roman Palazzo, rather than rustic trattoria.

Named after its two Michelin star bearing sister restaurant in Naples, the newest addition to the Shangri-La’s dining options is the fifth branch of the hugely popular – and lauded – high-end restaurant.

The dozen or so tables are packed into a deceptively large dining space, between an open kitchen and a stylish bar that looks like it might know a thing or two about classic cocktail making.

ATMOSPHERE
Elegant and compact, it is a restaurant enjoyed best with small intimate groups, where the focus is more on the food and the company rather than reliance on any types of gimmickry.
The bustle from the open kitchen – led by head chef Christian de Nadai – adds atmosphere to the dining area, as do the attentive, and highly knowledgeable, staff. DonAlfonso1890-Image3
FOOD
With any restaurant being associated with the mighty marketing power of the Michelin-star, expectations are always raised. While dishes such as the fantastic the mozzarella soufflé demonstrate an abundance of creative talent, the strength of the menu is in its simplicity.
Combinations of simple Italian staples such as zucchini, artichokes, tomatoes and mozzarella are reinterpreted in more ways than there are Italian hand gestures – from a mouth-watering zucchini parmigiano amuse-bouche, to calamari, rocket and tomato salad starters, and the effortlessly simple pasta dishes of Orecchiette with clams and zucchini and their signature Spaghetti Don Alfredo.
Somewhat unexpectedly for a fine-dining restaurant, the portions for the mains are generous, and the focus is on the main ingredient – in our case the sea bass and the lamb rack – rather than the accompaniments.
COME BECAUSE
It is fine, sophisticated dining, fit for a roman emperor.
Details: Daily, 7pm to 11.30pm. Shangri-la, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai. Visit donalfonso.ae