Restaurant Review: Riva Ristorante

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When I think of the Palm I am reminded of luxury hotel chains with glamorous beaches and celebrity chefs. I was recently invited to try the newly launched menu at Riva Ristorante, part of a stand alone beach, bar and restaurant concept (a rare find) nestled on the stem of the manmade island. With fierce culinary peers lining both crescents of the Palm, I was skeptical as to what Riva’s simple Mediterranean fare could offer. Nonetheless the invitation peaked my curiosity. 

Riva offers two menus, one caters to beach bums and families at an al fresco poolside gazebo serving up pizza’s and pasta. The other menu focuses on refined Italian dishes in a sophisticated venue. We opted for the latter. The restaurants rustic wooden interior is accented with a variety of eclectic aqua blue vases. Floor to ceiling windows boast views of Burj Al Arab and white mosaic tiles adorn the large bar.

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With mother nature easing up on the Dubai heat, we settled into our table on the patio. Our menu debate was comically lengthy, luckily I had ordered a Mint Lemonade to hydrate me for the discussion that followed (tough decisions for a Saturday afternoon)! Our lovely waiter, Ronnie, took us through his recommendations and handled our menu interrogation quite well.

Our starters were the stand out dishes of our lunch and set the tone for the afternoon. An abundance of chili, garlic and parsley covered the juicy prawns for our first starter, the Gambas Pil Pil. The generous portion was served in a small cast iron pot with all ingredients submerged in olive oil. After we devoured the dish, we were left with a pot of chili and garlic infused olive oil which I was tempted to bottle up and take home with me!

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The Beef Carpaccio came highly recommended so we opted in and we were happy we did! The dainty slices of carpaccio were topped with a salad of sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, olives, rocca and parmesan cheese all drizzled in olive oil. The presentation was so beautiful that I very carefully deconstructed the dish to scoop up all of the ingredients onto my fork. The bite melted in my mouth, the tart and salty flavor combination with the beef was delectable and refreshing.

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For our mains, we tried the Sea Bass Fillet and Tuna Steak. The Sea Bass was delicate with a crispy skin served face up, the garnish is what really elevated the flavors on the plate. The fish was beautifully presented encased in a ring of caper and tomato salsa for a savory main.

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The Tuna Steak was as simple as it gets, grilled with a simple side of rocca, no marinade and no garnish. I appreciated the simplicity however found the fish a little dry, a side of buttery sautéed mushrooms helped balance the dish out.

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Riva Ristorante is beach chic serving up simple grub with Italian flair, a lovely Palm surprise made even better by the friendly staff. With a full belly and happy taste buds, we retreated to the beach with a fresh Orange and Carrot juice in hand. I sipped on my juice while listening to chilled out tunes until the sun went down. A relaxing and stylish Saturday staycation, I could get used to this…

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Disclosure: The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely Memoirs of a Taste Bud’s own.