[Little Bite] Restaurant Review: Taste of Italy by Heinz Beck

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Michelin star Chef Heinz Beck steps away from fine dining for his bold Dubai follow up, Taste of Italy. The Masterchef goes casual with a strip mall marketplace concept, a la Eataly, boasting a bakery, deli, gelateria and restaurant. Quite the departure from the formal dining room over at Social by Heinz Beck. The massive space is stocked with Italian delicacies like artisan chocolates, jars of truffles and a spread of pastries to put most bakeries to shame. It was a sleepy Saturday evening at Gallaria Mall as the restaurant has yet to gain momentum, service was overrun with Italians, helpful and friendly. 

In an effort to diversify, myself and fellow blogger Ms. SheSaidSheSaid opted for the Iftar set menu while the boys, prone to pizza’s and pastas, ordered just that. A quad of appetizers presented itself first, two deep fried bites and cured bresaola were reduced to a mere shoulder shrug. The Caponata Alla Siciliana on the other hand overcompensated for its inferior siblings, the salad was a mouthful of robust Sicilian flavors featuring a savory eggplant medley. In true Ramadan fashion I ordered the Lentil soup next, the Italian rendition uses whole black lentils with complex spices unlike the bright and lemony pureed yellow lentils we are accustomed to in the Arab world, an intriguing diversion. IMG_5895 A fort of chicken arrived next complete with two towers, a green canopy and an orange pond, chicken legs were nowhere to be found, a reminder that Beck is a master at plating. Instead the poultry was disguised as three cylinders hugging a ricotta and truffle stuffing emitting a promising aroma, just one bite delivered on this promise. On to dessert which proved to be the highlight of my evening, I carefully and inquisitively studied the vast selection of eclairs, tarts and homemade chocolates. Feeling adventurous I settled on a Bigne alla Nocciola which was stacked high with thick almond cream and caramelized nuts sandwiched between two croissant-like buns. To messy to eat with your hands and too delicate to dissect you can rest assured that however you consume this heaping pastry you will be left with sticky lips, a powdered sugar mustache and a new found appreciation for Italian sweets. IMG_5519 IMG_5535 You will not leave hungry as the portions sizes are generous, although 195 AED for the set Iftar menu is a bit steep for the likes of Jumierah. A follow up visit is in order and I’m already eying the beef carpaccio with pistachio pesto and sundried tomato as well as the olive-crusted lamb. The eatery could benefit from the charm only a smaller Italian trattoria could have provided, which I what I was expecting given the Chef’s Michelin star roots in Rome. Mr. Beck has proved himself to be a fierce culinary presence in this market with Social and Taste of Italy proves to be a promising follow-up.