Restaurant Review: Isola Ristorante
Indulge in an authentic Italian meal with the decadent flavours of the nation
Travel is on our minds, but not on the cards as we speak. So, anything that comes close to the experience is welcome, and with that thought in our minds, we headed for a pranzo (lunch) to Isola Ristorante in the newly renovated Jumeirah Islands Clubhouse, Dubai. When it comes to all things Italian, there’s enough to amore, and well, this restaurant is devoted to the culinary traditions of Sicily, Sardinia and Capri. If it were not 41C, we would have sat outdoors, by the side of the marble white bar, with calming deck views of the streaming ravine, and indulged in the as-real-as-it-gets Italian vacation vibe. Indoors too, though, the vibe was holiday-like. The airy feel, complemented with floral aesthetics, pleasing jade blue interiors, and the greens (both faux leaves and real planters) was enough to set the mood. The arrival of fresh, out-of-the-oven, in-house pieces of bread on our table, with balsamic vinegar, further set the tone.
Want to experience the timeless Italian charm? Dig into Burrata, and don’t blame us if you can’t get enough of the heirloom tomatoes that come alongside the pillowy portion of the Italian cow milk cheese made from mozzarella and cream. Soft and stringy, La Burrata d’ Isola did compete for attention with L’insalata di Soncino, which was prepared with fresh lettuce, beetroot cubes, and, of course tomatoes! What made it delectable was not just the bright hues on the plate reflecting the freshness of the ingredients, but also the goat cheese with its earthy flavour with the right kind of tanginess.
We were in the mood to skip the mains, and dive straight into a cup of tiramisu, of course! But the chef tempted us with a portion of Rigatoni al Pomodoro. Rigatoni, the tube-shaped pasta, with its origin in Italy, is known to be of varying lengths and diameters, and the one we indulged in was perhaps the thickest we’d seen! It was al dente (to the tooth in Italian) and we enjoyed the chewy-yet-firm texture. And lest you confuse the sauce with the regular pasta sauce you sample at other eateries, this was a thicker tomato purée sans the skin and seeds, and we loved it.
The tiramisù lovers in us were in for a surprise when the chef insisted we sample Cheesecake al pistachio for sure. What can beat the heritage coffee dessert we thought to ourselves, until we took the first bite of our cake, which was pistachio glazed, and came with a portion of pistachio ice cream. How was it? Let me take the liberty to quote from one of my favourite books and movies, Eat Pray Love: “Then I went for a walk and ate some pistachio gelato. Which Italians consider a perfectly reasonable thing to be eating at 9.30am and frankly I could not agree with them more.” We may return to have this one, at 9.30am as well.
Taste: Superior quality ingredients, which you can taste in the bread, the leaves, the tomatoes, etc. Our pasta came with a garnish of Sorrento lemon, from well, Sorrento, which is known for lemons and limoncello.
Ambience: Warm and inviting. The outdoors with the ravine, the bar and the pool deck had our heart, with their look and feel of the Italian riviera. The indoors too were beautiful, especially with the abundance of natural light.
Service: The hosts were attentive and well-versed with what’s on the menu. And we’re glad they guided us to place an order as per our flavour profiles.
Presentation: Each dish was plated delicately, with the right kind of summer hues! The charming yellow and red of the tomatoes were enough to set our Instagram stories in a tizzy. The plates, all in shades of blues, enhanced the presentation.
Covid-consciousness: The place is spacious enough for you to maintain social distancing, with the staff wearing masks. All Covid protocols are duly followed.