The Da Vinci code

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The Da Vinci code

Secrets to Italian cuisine are cracked open at the veteran Da Vinci's, Millennium Airport Hotel, Dubai. It's one of the best places in town to savour rusticity in its truest form


Sushmita Bose

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Published: Fri 18 Aug 2017, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 18 Aug 2017, 2:00 AM

Italian food has a problem of plenty: you find it everywhere. Even the local supermarket will offer a pasta salad or a quickie pizza. Then, there are fine dining restaurants offering "signature" dining experiences - when there is nothing signature about Italian cuisine; it's one of the most home-styled foods you'll ever find, drawing from fresh produce, mininal flavouring and ease of cooking. Nothing should be over-done or over-cooked. Or exaggerated. It's a basic, no-fuss cuisine. Strangely enough, very few restaurants get the formula right... probably because there are attempts to morph it into something new-fangled, when that shouldn't be the case.
I'm going to stick my neck out now, and say: Da Vinci's checks all the boxes because they've been in business since 1992. Nothing much has changed; the restaurant itself - including the gingham table cloths (red-and-white, and very lovely, it's something I would associate with "home-style" and cosy immediately) - has remained the same. The fireplace, the wooden floors, the little touches of rusticity, the candles in the non-wind - staples that old-timers remember fondly. Most patrons have a generational acquaintance with the place. The service is intensely personalised (the knowledgeable restaurant manager Hashem strikes up a conversation at every table).
And finally, the food speaks for itself. Utterly rooted, and with no attempt to "snazz it up" for the new millennium, it remains true to form. Super stuff. Indelibly Italian. Even Mona Lisa would have approved.

The Funghi Ripieni - mushrooms stuffed with ricotta cheese - was bursting with flavours. Fantastic rocca salad with mozzarella and cherry tomatoes. A herb-crusted baked salmon was the standout. For desserts, the panna cotta even managed to trump the delicate and light tiramisu.

For me, Da Vinci's proved to be a hidden gem (since it was my first time there). Takes you straight back to Italian comfort zone - like a Bertolucci movie set in the countryside. Attention to details (including Da Vinci's presence) is remarkable. I wish there was more Italian music though.

Impeccable. There's an easy familiarity that the staff shares with diners; there's clearly a relationship that's been cultivated. Hats off for that. The waiting staff know exactly when to suggest and when to withdraw. Special mention for Hashem, he rocks!

Italian food - thanks to its colours and spread - is an Instagrammer's delight. At Da Vinci's, they go the extra mile. Salmon rarely looks regal; here, my baked version did. Earthy crockery and vintage-looking cutlery. And the candles were lit all through.

Pretty great. The pizzas, for instance, are all within Dh70-75. Desserts are within Dh50. Portions are decent. And for the kind of investment in ingredients, I'd say this is really good value for money. There's a competitively-priced beverages section as well.
Rating: 5/5

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