Joshua and I had always wanted to visit Al Grissino for their Italian Brunch – but by the time we worked through our “Brunch to do” list, the restaurant was closed for renovations. Bugger. Last week we finally made a reservation at Dubai’s best Italian restaurant for their Friday Brunch and… we were amazed, impressed, flabbergasted and exceptionally full!
Although most people in Dubai prefer a buffet style brunch, it is actually the set menu brunches that serve the best food (it’s a fact, don’t fight me on this one). A lot of people are ‘scared’ that they will leave the table hungry – not realising that when choosing a set menu brunch, staff will literally feed you until you burst or blow up like Violet Beauregarde, the blueberry girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The set menu at Al Grissino is a sophisticated one with true Italian dishes that venture away from the cheap Italian fast food and instead sits you down to taste the true essence of Italian cooking. Be amazed when very simple dishes made from exquisite ingredients take you on a journey through bare naked and inspired Mediterranean tastes.
Will you leave the table hungry at the Al Grissino Italian Brunch? Definitely not. Joshua and I felt bad sending half-eaten dishes back, mainly because we knew the chef was proud of his menu and each course and dish was absolutely delightful. So in order not to waste any food, we decided to opt out of the main course as we were as stuffed as two woodpigeons after hunting season.
The menu was exquisite. It took me right back to the road trips through the Italian countryside I would spontaneously make when I was still living in Belgium. I would load up the car with my partner or a friend during long weekends and we would start driving, sometimes stopping in the South of France, but more often powering through until Italy to settle down by the beautiful banks of the Po, munching on blocks of Parmegiano and slices of Parma ham.
And although you will obviously not find any Parma Ham in Al Grissino – we are still in Dubai – the 24-month-old Parmegiano was as pure and delicious as the many wedges of cheese I had munched on during my little getaways.
Would this brunch fit everyone? Not necessarily. In the kindest of kind ways, my friends here in Dubai LOVE Italian fast food. They order in Pizza, they love a spaghetti or a penne Arabiata, but they would find the food served at Al Grissino a bit too “local”. I can’t really imagine them eating the squid (heavenly), trying the ox tail (delightful) or even any of the cheese and fish that was served at the start of the meal. I would say that, if an ‘American style pizza’, ‘Mac and cheese’ or even worse: ‘Carbonara with cream’ are your idea of a great Italian dish, I do not think Al Grissino would be for you. And I say this in the kindest of ways.
The menu presented was as follows:
Antipasti from the buffet
Home made bread and focaccia selection (G)
Buffalo mozzarella & cow nodini (D)
Taleggio & Gorgonzola cheese (D)
Parmigiano 24 months & Pecorino cheese (D)
Roasted bell peppers (V)
Grilled eggplants & zucchini (V)
Anchovies in EVO oil (V)
Burrata and cherry tomatoes (V,D)
Sarde in oar
Chargrilled calamari skewer
Moscardini Luciana style
Pacchetti with redfish (G)
Ravioli ricotta and spinach with butter, sage & tomato (G,D)
Beef tenderloin with mushrooms sauce (D)
Cod Livornese style (G)
Let me take you through the menu.
First we were presented with Antipasti. As the brunch was (weirdly) not busy, the waitress brought the antipasti on a plate to our table instead of setting up a buffet.
The buffalo mozzarella and the nodini were amazing. The nodini had a slight savoury taste and I preferred them over the mozzarella. The taleggio and the gorgonzola (they picked quite a young cheese, probably just over 50 days old and definitely not a picante – this way everyone can eat it) were delicious and I would have asked for more if our table was not already laden with food. Same goes for the exquisite parmigiano and pecorino cheese.
The vegetables were great and my husband – who does not like eggplant (aubergine whatever name you like) at all, did not leave me any. He also ate all the anchovies which were apparently really nice.
They brought the hot and cold starters as we were still picking away at our antipasti. They included a very creamy burrata on cherry tomatoes doused in a very fresh basil vinaigrette (if I remember correctly), marinated salmon to die for, marinated grouper and sarde in soar which again my husband loved.
For hot starters we received a chargrilled calamari skewer which really reminded me of the calamari I would get in Slovenia, Moscardini Luciana style which might not be for everyone as you can clearly see it is a squid, but made for a very light, fresh dish that reignited my deep love for squid.
They also presented us with a nice, very well made parmigiana where I have to congratulate the chef on his tomato sauce as it was so simple yet so flavourful and an oxtail stew which was a little present from the chef.
I LOVE ox tail. When I was living in Belgium I would often go to restaurants serving old school local food and order a good hearty ox tail stew. And that is exactly what this stew was! The meat disintegrated on your tongue and the rich palette of flavours had me scraping out the little black pot for more.
When the pasta came, I was so full you would have been able to roll me out of there. Although I only had a few bites of pasta, I have to say that they were absolutely delicious. I especially enjoyed the Pachetti which came with a very simple yet delicate sauce. I was not the biggest fan of the ravioli – but that might be more due to the fact that I am a big fan of very hearty raviolis rather than the soft and creamy ones like they served at Al Grissino.
Joshua and I were too full to eat the main courses so we decided to tell the waitress not to worry and to cancel that order. I would have felt bad to send a barely touched plate back to the kitchen. So we went straight on to the desert.
The desert platter included a delicious tiramisu (would only have been better with a drop of amaretto – but again, we are in Dubai), a sponge-like little cake that I did not touch because I was too full, and a hazelnut mousse in am edible chocolate cup that was some of the best deserts I have ever had in Dubai.
What were the drinks like at the Al Grissino Brunch in Dubai?
Although the drinks menu at Al Grissino was not as extensive as other places and brunches – magritas, mojitos and spirits with mixers, the drinks were exceptionally well-mixed. Don’t you hate it when you go to a brunch and they hand you a drink that is half and half? So strong that you almost can’t drink it?
This happened to me a fair few times and I was happy to discover that Al Grissino has a great bar tender! I had a gin and tonic – which was nicely mixed, a very nice mojito and a margarita to top off this amazing brunch experience!
The view at Al Grissino Dubai
The main reason Joshua and I wanted to visit Al Grissino Dubai was due to the view. We had clocked this amazing restaurant and bar was located in the round pipe-like window in Emirates Financial Towers. We stumbled onto the building by accident while being hopelessly lost in DIFC. The view would have been exceptional since it had a full frontal view onto the Burj!
And exceptional it was!
We were led to a table by the window and I could not believe my eyes. It was perhaps the single best view of the Burj Khalifa I have experienced since I moved to Dubai. Bellissimo!
Would I go back to the Italian Brunch in Al Grissino Dubai
Yes! Definitely yes!
This brunch is definitely up there with our favourites! Our current top 3 is:
- Al Dawaar (It’s a nostalgia thing… and we basically go back for the staff)
2/3 Al Grissino and Thiptara
I have put Al Grissino and Thiptara in a tied second place as they both have a great and exhilarating view, food so good I would miss it when moving away from Dubai and extraordinary friendly staff. I just don’t think you can compare the intricate spiced flavours of Thai food with the simple yet delicate Italian ones. It would be unfair of me to do so, especially as the food at both Thiptara and Al Grissino is exceptional.
Brunching at Al Grissino was an absolute treat and I cannot express how much I enjoyed the complete experience.
And yes, there is a but…
I am a bit scared the brunch might change.
There was a DJ (which to me clashed with the high standard of the food and service – even though the music was an okay level and he played nice remixes) and big flatscreens promoting their Italian Brunch (the one we sat down to) flashing: free pouring means free pouring.
The last thing I want is for this brunch and restaurant to sell its soul and turn into something it is not. It would be a shame for people to head to Al Grissino to get absolutely pissed and not even touch the food. Because that is what happened at the Waka Brunch (some of the best food I had in Dubai – and I am probably not going back). Imagine the best Peruvian food ever (I spent 2 months in Peru and that food was like coming home) with a Japanese twist – but then massively loud music and a horde of white people getting drunk and not even touching the food! Coming back from Waka I was amazed at the food and disappointed in humanity.
I pray that people with a genuine love for food, great views and exceptional service find their way to Al Grissino as it is 100% worth your while and every fil. Al Grissino is also on The Entertainer in Dubai Fine Dining (I would not be able to afford this brunch without) meaning you get 2 for 1 on the brunch.