An Italian restaurant set within an opulent resort on a man-made island has been named the most authentic Italian restaurant in the Middle East and Africa.
Ronda Locatelli in Dubai's Palm Atlantis resort was named The Best Authentic Italian Restaurant by the same organization that hosts the World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards on Thursday. The resort is located on Palm Jumeirah, an artificial island in the city.
Opened by Michelin-starred Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli, the Dubai restaurant is modeled after his London restaurant Locanda Locatelli which emphasizes traditional Italian cuisine and the use of fresh produce and ingredients.
Centered around four wood-fired ovens, Locatelli's Middle Eastern outpost is built around a family-style menu of pizzas, fresh breads, al forno or oven baked dishes in a style described as rustic and 'uncontrived' compared to many of its neighbors in the region, judges said.
Head chef Alessandro Bottazzi is also credited for maintaining the high standards expected of a Locatelli establishment.
"...[P]izza and pasta dishes are traditional but delivered with panache and flavor; the filet of poached beef in salsa verde and rosemary-infused roasted potatoes elevated to mouth-watering heights; classic Italian desserts executed to sweet perfection."
The restaurant was opened in partnership with the Atlantis in 2008.
Runners-up for the award included 95 Keerom in Cape Town, helmed by chef Giorgio Nava who grows his own ingredients on his nearby farm, and 800 Pizza in Dubai, which sources its key ingredients from Italy.
Meanwhile, the awards - sponsored by Italian beer maker Birra Moretti - are hosted by Restaurant magazine which also produces the World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards. Initial candidates are culled via the ‘collective expertise' of the Electrolux 50 Best Restaurants Academy but the ultimate decisions are made by the magazine and Birra Moretti.
Throughout the year, magazine editors will be publishing the best authentic Italian restaurants in six continents around the world that also include Europe, Asia and Australasia and South America. In May, San Francisco's Perbacco was declared North America's finest.
Restaurants are evaluated based on the use of authentic, Italian raw ingredients and respect for traditions. Judges also favor informal, convivial atmospheres and dining environments and a chef who is accessible and available to guests.