The name is a misnomer, as this is no casual café. Emporio Armani Caffè is in The Galleria, after all – so expect white tablecloths, well-spoken, knowledgeable waiters and waterside views. You’ll soon forget you’re dining in a mall.
The concept of this Milanese restaurant comes from the Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani, and this shows in everything from its minimalist décor to the presentation of dishes.
The tables on the waterside promenade are attractive, but we visit on a cool night so we sit inside instead. We’re seated by a wall of glass overlooking a manmade pond.
Our waiter promptly delivers a pizza disguised as a bread basket. The triangles are warm, smothered in tomato sauce and served with black olive tapenade and a roasted red pepper dip. It’s so delicious, we can’t help but fill ourselves up.
Next we share a large portion of burrata – a slab of creamy mozzarella. Unusually, it comes with salty black olives, balls of green and yellow courgettes and carrot and a sprig of purple leaf, but it has enough flavour without these ingredients.
Intrigued by the prawn cappuccino soup, we order that, too. Six juicy prawns with a chargrilled crust float in a thin lobster bisque with foam on top. A generous scoop of crème fraîche complements the dish.
For our mains, we share slow-cooked black cod on a bed of baby potatoes and red peppers. The cod has a subtle sweetness, making it tasty enough to eat on its own.
Our other main dish is gnocchi with broccoli cream. Again, it’s a large portion, and we’re unable to finish it.
For dessert, we opt for a warm chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream, a classic dish that’s served promptly. Our companion goes for the panna cotta, which in their words, is flawless.
The bottom line? If you’re looking for quality ingredients and attentive staff in smart surroundings, then Armani’s your man.
Location: The Galleria, Al Maryah Island
We say: Classic décor and cuisine, great for a date
Cost: AED 550 for two with soft drinks
Opening times: Daily 10am-1am
Contact: 02 676 6995