M and I were invited to Per Te by their extremely hospitable hostess, Kaye. I clicked my heels with joy when I got her call, as Per Te had been on my “Must Visit” list for a while already. Now we haven’t been to Italy, but based on our extensive experience of eating and the fact that there were a lot of Italians dining at Per Te, I think it is safe to say, that Per Te was the best Italian food we have ever had.
While “Italian” is one of the most popular cuisines in the world; only a select few do it right. Although pizza and pasta are two dishes synonymous with Italian food for most people in almost any part of the world, not everyone understands that there is so much more to this beautifully simple yet hearty cuisine that is so much more than just Cheese and Pizza and Pasta. Needless to say, this wonderful cuisine is certainly one of our favorites too, and as if we weren’t picky enough as it is, Per Te just raised the bar higher for us.
Venchi Chocolate House
We headed there on a Wednesday night a couple of weeks ago for dinner and found our way quite easily, thanks to the location provided by Zomato, and our trust placed in the Google Maps Lady who guided us to an unusual but pleasantly quaint location for a restaurant. Per Te certainly makes the Hidden Gems’ list. I rushed home to review this wonderful discovery, but lost my first draft as my computer crashed, and sadness pursued.
Anyway, we were greeted warmly by Kaye and then the Chef himself gave us a tour of the premises. I couldn’t help but notice how well-versed he was in Italian cooking and how involved in, and aware of every aspect and every ingredient in Per Te.
Open since Jan 2014, Per Te has a trendy cafe area boasting a quaint Venchi “chocolate house”, exhibiting a wide array of fine Italian chocolates ranging from Venchi through Maserati to many more. Then, theres a rustic Pizza Kitchen trattoria, followed by a retail area that sells some of the exquisite ingredients that one can expect to eat at Per Te, and also take home with them. It stocks some of the finest olive oils, sun-dried tomatoes and truffle butters we’ve come across in Dubai. Finally, there’s an elegant Ristorante dining area with an open kitchen, where we were seated to enjoy our meal.
We gave the chef the liberty to select what he’d like to serve us, and while we waited for him to whip something up for us, we were served the softest square pillows of Focaccia with three dips; Basil Pesto, Arabiata Sauce, and Sundried Tomato. All three were thoroughly enjoyable but the pesto one was my favorite. In addition to this, we also enjoyed a typical olive oil plus balsamic dip, except this Colorita olive was next level.
Next up, we received a numinous Tuna tartare placed on a bed of passionfruit and topped with olive tapenade. M was a little iffy about raw fish, but as soon as we had a cautious little bite, we dove right into and just couldn’t stop having until it was all gone. It was the such a harmonious and refreshing marriage between the rich tenderness of the tuna and the crunchy tartness of the passionfruit. What a great start to the meal!
The next spectacle , Crostini Con Formaggio Di Capra e Funghi, were slices of deliciously garlicky toasted ciabatta topped generously with a heaps of goat cheese, wild mushrooms, rocket, truffle oil, truffle paste and parmesan. Heavy breathing? Yeah, my sentiments exactly. THIS is how you ELEVATE garlic bread. The chef could have just done a mic drop at this point. But he kept going. Heck, I can just drop the mic at this point. But, I too, shall keep going.
Before we could even pinch ourselves to make sure this wasn’t a reverie, the main courses arrived. First up, Pizza Buffalina. You know what they say about pizza: keep it simple. I’ve said this before as well; there are three things essential for every pizza: good crust (check), good sauce (check), and good cheese (check). This pizza was very much like Carluccio’s, and I don’t think it really gets better than that.
While I was still taking pictures of the pizza, the Risotto Con Gamberi vongole e Asparagi arrived. Although the gorgeous and colorful plate before me took my breath away, I was a little disappointed at having received risotto, as up until I had the first bite of THIS risotto, I had never been a fan of risotto. A mouthful of this though, and I’m a believer. I officially LOVE risotto now, the kind at Per Te at least! Perfectly cooked tiger prawn, clams, and my favorite: crunchy asparagus, in a bed of creamy, hearty, and extremely flavorfulrisotto. Sophisticated comfort food for grown ups at it’s best.
Meanwhile, M was busy digging into his Rib Eye steak. The presentation of every dish, one after another, left us in awe. Having seen the reasonable prices on the menu, we were not expecting to see such a high level of class and sophistication on the plates before us. This entree, was no exception. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium-well, just as M preferred, and was packed with juices and flavor. Unlike your usual steak that comes with a heap of mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables, this one was beautifully presented and every element on the plate was impeccably thought out and complemented each other.
“There are four things that I focus on; Quantity, Quality, Taste, and Presentation”, says Chef Gladwin.
A random observation that made me the germaphobe in me very happy; the chef sous chef and all kitchen staff coming in contact with the food were constantly changing their gloves. Big plus point.
Last but not the least; the much awaited dessert arrived: a vibrant Semifreddo. Oh. My. God. I legit felt light-headed and ready to pass out when i saw this vibrant tapestry of colors and flavors! You know what they say, one eats with one’s eyes first. And boy oh boy, my eyes were eating their hearts out! The creamy Semifreddo made with Maserati chocolate, along with tart raspberries, fresh mint, crunchy crumbs of biscuits, and a stunning balsamic reduction (which was actually the inspiration behind this edible art), was the absolute perfect end to a truly sensational meal.
Wish we could have stayed to enjoy a cup of coffee to wash down the rich dessert, but we had to run and catch the opening night of Antman. #JustMThings
All in all, a great find and a new favorite. Can’t wait to go back and take friends and family with us. If I had to give some criticism, I’d suggest dimming the lights in the Ristorante a little to give it more of a romantic and less of a studio feel. It would certainly do justice to the food. Other than that, these guys need to just keep putting that awesome food on our plates
and keep up the great service.