Perched at a white-clothed table on Cipriani’s second level, I take in the scene before me: Below, a sea of professionally dressed diners fill the white and caramel-wood dining room. Punctuated by dust-blue banquettes, a nautical theme prevails; the brass railings and gleaming white bar area bookended by portholes displaying a choppy digital sea resemble a mid-century yacht. On the walls, larger-than-life vintage shots of supermodels – Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista – blow air kisses above diners’ heads. It’s a stylish setup, and if you’ve been to any of the many other Cipriani restaurants located around the world, it’s much what you would expect it to be.
Waiters in pristine white jackets perform a constant dance and chorus, bending from table to table, singing: Buongiorno! Presto! Buon appetito! It’s mere moments before I receive a “Buongiorno!” of my own, as food and drink menus are presented and a slice of lemon is slipped into my glass of sparkling water. Service is swift, making it ideal for a business lunch in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), where upscale business lunches are practically de rigueur.
To start? It has to be a Bellini. This brunch-time favourite was invented more than 70 years ago in Venice by none other than Guiseppe Cipriani himself in his legendary Harry’s Bar; the simple cocktail mixed with white-peach purée is cited as the reason for Prosecco’s rise in fame (which is produced near Venice).
As for the menu, it’s filled with Cipriani classics and Italian favourites such as burrata “alla Mediterranea”, minestrone soup, rigatoni “alla Siciliana” and tiramisu. “The aim,” general manager Marco Boito, who oversees every new Cipriani opening, tells me, “is to feed guests with simple, elegant, good food.”
After nearly finishing the veal – an arduous yet delicious task – a new crisp, clean white cloth is expertly rolled out onto my table for the final, tempting dish. The thick slice of vanilla meringue, which I imagined was going to be much smaller (silly me) is light and creamy with a hint of lemon zest – but all the same pure decadence. But what better way to end a meal at a destination that’s been toying with the term since the 1930s?
*This review was originally published in the May issue of Destinations of the World News. You can also see it online here, or view the PDF of the printed story by clicking below.