Fun Fact: Carluccio’s was started by celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio. While most of us know him from Two Greedy Italians, he actually has 20 cookbooks to his credit- and understandably so! What started as an Italian Food Shop in 1991, now has 120 restaurants worldwide, with 12 in the UAE alone!
Carluccio’s to me is a reliable and faithful option that never disappoints. When you have guests in town who you want to take out for a casual meal on a budget, pick the one in The Dubai Mall for a view of the fountains, or in Dubai Marina overlooking the yachts, and you’re covered. On the flipside, the one in Arabian Ranches (which is in the middle of nowhere for some), makes for a comforting and convenient meal on weeknights, or lazy Saturday mornings for M and myself, as it’s a stone’s throw away from where we live.
I like to call myself a veteran of sorts when it comes to Carluccio’s (not because I’m one of their oldest customers, but rather because it’s one of the first restaurants I dined at in Dubai), so it gave me great pleasure when they invited me to try their new menu, which includes some new dishes and some new and improved versions of old favorites.
We started off with their Arancini (an old favorite). These crispy fried rice, pesto and mozzarella balls are every grown-up’s inner fat child’s dream come true. We also wolfed down their deep-fried mushrooms with a squeeze of lemon, and my favorite: the Burrata and Brescoala. The last was previously served with grilled asparagus, which has now been replaced with zucchini, but it is still as much a feast to the eyes as it is to the mouth.
Our mains included the Chicken Mushroom Pappardelle, which had 3 kinds of mushrooms in a cream-based sauce as opposed to the previously used Creme Fraiche. While I’m not a fan of creamy pastas (ever), this went down well with everyone else on the table.
What I did love, however was the Festive Risotto. It was fantastic. I absolutely loved the touch of walnuts and pine nuts in it. Try and get your hands on some before it gets taken off the limited edition menu, you won’t regret it!
The Chicken Napoletana was was a flavorful and hearty tomato based dish with the most delicious rosemary potatoes. I didn’t like that the chicken was skin-on, but it worked for M, so we’re conflicted on this one. I enjoyed the Chicken Saltimbicca more, which is an old classic on their menu, and understandably so.
Last but not the least, how could I go to Carluccio’s and not have pizza? I was encouraged to try their new pizza: the Smoked Salmon and Zucchini. While it may sound kind of “meh”, it was DELICIOUS- and everyone’s favorite entree on the table. Great, now I want some 😐
We washed our food down with some Apple Mojitos and Pomegranate Punch (both of which can be made without added sugar upon request! Yay!)
The manager, Lena (who I love to bits), then asked us if we had room for dessert, to which I laughed because of course I ALWAYS have room for dessert. #sorrynotsorry
Dessert was Chocolate Fondant (because I had to see how it weighs up against the many others I’ve tried. Verdict: good, but not the best), Tiramisu (deemed the best Tiramisu my Tiramisu expert friend has ever had), Chocolate Raspberry Tart (THIS is what I’ll order when I go back. Although the tart base was hard to cut through without a knife, the flavors and textures were on point once eaten together. The Raspberry coulis was absolute perfection), and last but not the least: the show-stopping Tartuffo. The Tartuffo is a pear-shaped mould of half chocolate-flavored ice-cream and half hazelnut-flavored. once you cut into it, you find a soft chocolate truffle in the center. This was just perfect.
Carluccio’s, no matter how many new places I try, you’ll always be one of my favorites 🙂 Thanks for having me, and you know I’ll be back- probably tonight!