How do you decide where to take the mother-in-law for dinner when she’s visiting Dubai? The choice of restaurants is endless, the food on offer in this city is incredible, it’s actually all a bit daunting. Until she says the three magic words: “I fancy Italian”. Then there’s only really one place that she has to fill her belly at and that’s Solo Bistronomia and Vino Bar on the third floor of the Raffles Hotel in Downtown Dubai. Think wood-fired pizzas smothered in buffalo mozzarella, think pasta dishes that are so so fresh you’re transported to the hills of Tuscany. This is a carb-lovers heaven with deserts that are so pretty you almost can’t bear to eat them (we said almost). So, mother-in-law in tow, we headed downtown to give this Italian feast a go. Here’s our five favourite bits…
1. The decor is amazing
For starters, Solo is in Raffles Hotel which is shaped like a huge pyramid. If that wasn’t enough, the care that the team at Solo have put into the decor of the restaurant itself is to be highly commended. It’s warm and cosy without being stuffy. It’s modern, it’s cool, and it’s quirky. From the multicoloured buffalo heads on the wall in the dining area to the amazing light fixtures, tall ceilings and split-level dining, you feel instantly at ease when you’re seated at your table. There’s a great bar area with cosy nooks for pre or post-dinner drinks and it’s the perfect place for birthday parties and romantic evenings. Also, when the weather cools down enough, you can dine al fresco on the outside terraced area, listening to chill-out music with views over Dubai.
2. The zucchini blossoms tempura is out of this world
If you’re a fan of starters, and let’s face it who isn’t, you need to go and try the zucchini blossoms tempura with lobster filling and saffron aioli. It’s the perfect mix of naughty meets nice, and one that the mother-in-law is sure to love. If this isn’t your thing though, don’t worry, there are tons of starters to choose from. Maybe the fresh burrata with house-smoked salmon could fit the bill? Or maybe the solo pomodoro e gamberi with it’s fresh tomatoes, red shrimps and tomato sorbet? Whatever you choose from the 14 starters available, it’s safe to say that you won’t be disappointed.
3. The classy main courses look and taste delicious
After all those starters, it was tricky to decide on what to have for a main course. After much deliberation, and some sound advice from our lovely waiter, we went for the lasagna al pesto, a super creamy vegetarian version of the Italian classic, the organic salmon, slow poached with Italian romanesco cream and broccolini and the indulgent baby veal shank with saffron risotto which pretty much fell off the bone when you touched it with a fork. Oh, and we mustn’t forget the truffle mash. Never forget the truffle mash. As you’d expect from a good Italian restaurant, the menu caters for all tastes. Vegetarians are really well looked after and the menu is big without being overbearing. Just don’t forget to save room for the desserts!
4. The mouthwatering wood-fired pizzas are not to be missed
We’re big fans of pizza here in the Lovin Dubai office, and have tried a few in our time, but the wood-fired pizzas at Solo are by far the best we’ve had. They have a brand new wood-fire oven which churns out 20 traditional Italian pizza options, and quite honestly, we could have happily tried them all. We went for the Bufalina, which had an amazing thin crust, fresh tomatoes, basil, and the all important buffalo mozzarella. If you want something more exciting then there’s a pizza with lobster and another with sea scallops!
5. The desserts are worth saving space for
Desserts are the best part of any meal for us. At brunches we’re always rushing through the mains so that we can get a full plate of sweet treats without feeling guilty. At Solo, it’s a tough choice, because quite frankly, everything on the menu is good. For a palate cleanser we’d recommend the Solo Limone. It comes with freshly made macarons, zingy ice cream lollies, meringues and tiny liquid filled bubbles which pop in your mouth. For something a bit more warming you could have the Crumble alle Mele, a granny smith apple crumble with vanilla ice cream, or for a true Italian dessert have the pannacotta topped with chocolate crumbs, fresh fruit and blueberry ice cream. Everything is so beautifully presented that you feel a little guilty eating them…just a little.
The important stuff
STARTERS: Range from 48AED for soup up to 145AED for a selection of cured cold cuts and cheeses.
MAINS: From 125AED for the organic salmon, to 198AED for the baked chilean sea bass. Sides start at 28AED
DESSERTS: From 32AED for the ice creams and sorbets to 45AED for the Solo Limone.
To book and more info: solodubai.ae