When Chef Massimo Bottura opens a new restaurant, it’s time to sit up and take note! Bottura’s 3 Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana situated in the heart of Modena, Italy, topped The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2018 cementing a reputation as one the world’s pre-eminent dining destinations.
Here in Dubai we have Torno Subito, Bottura’s very first restaurant opening outside of Italy. Situated on the ground floor of the fun and vivacious W The Palm, the Italian eatery marks one of the cities most anticipated restaurant openings in recent memory and one that has been met with intense scrutiny from restaurant critics and food aficionados alike.
Going in it’s important to note that Torno Subito is not Osteria Francescana, nor it is trying to be and perhaps this is what has confused diners who have travelled out to the West Crescent of the Palm Jumeirah in search of a fine-dining experience. Torno Subito is undeniably causal with interiors that feel more like an ice cream parlor and play directly into a concept that looks to encapsulate Bottura’s childhood holidays spent on the Italian Riviera.
The decor is awash with pastel colours. Powder pinks, sunshine yellows and baby blue hues saturate a dining room that screams fun, while a large image of chef Bottura himself leads the way into the restaurant and the word ‘exit’ traces alongs the monochrome floors. It’s colourful, flamboyant and very un-Dubai. In a city accustomed to sleek and sexy interior design, its nice to see Torno Subito completely buck the trend and fully embrace a sense of childhood nostalgia.
Out on the terrace guests will find gigantic beach balls, coloured beach huts and pedalos lining the shore. These can be hired with a picnic from the restaurant to really enjoy the Torno Subito experience during the cooler months, or sit on the beach with your toes quite literally in the sand which has been imported from Rimini to bring an authentic Adriatic coastal experience to Dubai.
Battura may not be present in the kitchen on a day-to-day basis but he has hand-picked Chef Bernardo Paladini to represent him at Torno Subito. He and much of the front of house team have spent many years training with Battura at Osteria Francescana to ensure the highest levels of food and service for diners in Dubai and it shows. Staff are happy to engage in discussion and talk animatedly when it comes to recommendations and the thought processes behind each dish.
Pizzas, pastas make up the majority of the menu but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any surprises in store for diners. We begin with a complimentary amuse-bouche of pappa a pomodoro, a dish that uses tomato sauce, bread, parmesan crust and béchamel foam to create a comforting Tuscan soup beloved my many Italians. The uovo (AED 95) while perhaps not the most appealing dish when it comes to appearance, is a triumph of flavour. Presenting a slow-cooked poached egg with Parmigiano-Reggiano and topped with black truffle that complements the velvety yolk.
Perhaps the most significant choice on the menu for those looking to capture an aspect of the Osteria Francescana dining experience is Torno Subito’s Ceasar Salad (AED75). Looking to bring a piece of Modena to Dubai via a startling combination of 14 ingredients that represent an evolution for this traditional salad. Visually stunning, the mix of ingredients and textures make the salad a must order, especially if accompanied by a serving of Tagliatelle (available in small or large portions) which is described as Bottura’s favourite and is based upon the same lamb ragu recipe from the aforementioned world’s current number one restaurant.
Moving onto the secondi or main course, we cannot resist the polpo (AED175) a dish of roasted octopus, green pea cream and pickled vegetables that have been cut to resemble flowers. The octopus is beautifully prepared and may be one of the best cooks of the protein we’ve had in Dubai. Representing a plate that works wonderfully on an ingredient we’ve had countless times before, even though the pea purée lacks a bit of prominence.
Catch of the day is Red Mullet and emanates a more intense flavour than we expected. Stuffed with langoustine and cooked ‘al cartoccio’ in the pizza oven, the fish is presented with a delightful crust that brings texture and a rich sauce made from mussels, pepper and squid ink – making quite the impression in stark contrast to the pink crockery emblazoned with Torno Subito branding.
While Torno Subito as a concept may be inspired by the post-war Italy and the notion of La Dolce Vita (the sweet life), the cuisine is focused more upon the evolution of tradition. This is exemplified with the dessert course and the Tiramisu Torno Subito (AED 50) in particular. Plating lashings of foamy mascarpone with coffee ice cream, espresso sauce and meringue, this take may upset tiramisu purists but certainly makes for a unique reinterpretation of the classic Italian dessert. The deconstructed Dark Cherry Cheesecake (AED 55) is also of note thanks to a combination of pine nut crumble, ricotta cheese and cherry sorbet.
Torno Subito marks another celebrity chef fronted concept at W The Palm, in addition to Akira Back Dubai. Michelin-star notoriety and strong food have resulted in this particular hotel being the current talk of the town.
While some may struggle to connect with the unexpected casual nature of Torno Subito, the restaurant in fact offers a seamless fit for the beachfront location and fills a niche a gap in the dining landscape on the man-made Palm Jumeirah. With the restaurants name translating as “I’ll be right back” in Italian, this is one phrase we can wholeheartedly agree upon when it comes to this Italian spot.
Location: W Dubai the Palm, West Crescent, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai
Social: Instagram / Facebook
Hours: 12pm – 3pm / 7pm – 11pm
Phone: +971 4 2455555
Out & About UAE were guests of Torno Subito. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.