La vita might be dolce, but is the food as good?
You’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled through a glitch in the space-time continuum when you step into Tortellini, as you’ll be convinced you’ve arrived at a rustic Italian market square, rather than a restaurant off a busy road in Downtown Dubai.
With warm street lamps, cobbled floors, checkered tablecloths, a wall laden with quaint shuttered windows, and a towering, leafy – albeit faux – tree grazing the ceiling, this trattoria-inspired hideaway feels a world away from your typical city eatery.
And indeed it should – Tortellini’s owners are interior designers by trade who were inspired to open a restaurant after visiting Bologna and indulging in the pasta after which this place is named.
However, tortellini is not all this unlicensed spot has to offer, with a menu boasting around 75 dishes. A little overwhelmed (and a touch full already after diving face-first into the bread basket), we opted to start with the arancini (Dhs36) and bresaola with burrata (Dhs98) on the recommendation of our Roman waiter.
The arancini was the perfect balance of crisp and oozy, although lacking seasoning. However, the bresaola fused together the sweet, salty and creamy with finesse, the balsamic reduction adding a tangy edge.
After umming and ahhing over the multiple pasta and main dishes, we decided to stick with tortellini, choosing the ring-shaped pasta in a traditional beef ragu (Dhs48), and one in a white Panna sauce (Dhs40). While the former was satisfyingly meaty in flavour thanks to the ragu, the filling was more of a pale-hued sliver, with a texture that leaned towards the firmer side of al dente. The creamy option, served with green peas, onion and turkey bacon, however, was moreish with a subtle smokiness. The tiramisu (Dhs32) rounded off the affair beautifully, with an almost foamy texture that meant it didn’t further strain our full bellies. It wasn’t too bitter, nor too sweet. While you might find more nuanced fine-dining Italian cuisine in Dubai, if you’re after comfort food that won’t break the bank, you’ll find plenty of that here. The décor is a particular highlight, authentic with just a touch of whimsy, leaving you feeling like you’ve been whisked away for a weekend in Naples (rather than just down Sheikh Zayed Road).
Bay Tower, Business Bay, Dubai, daily 11am to 1am. Tel: (054) 4440303. Metro: Business Bay. facebook.com/ TortelliniDubai