American chef David Myers has set up shop at the spanking new Renaissance Downtown Hotel in Dubai’s Marasi Drive, continuing his journey through various spots that include LA, Hong Kong and Singapore. It’s another globe-trotting-inspired restaurant, and this time it’s the Italian Basta.
Once you stop ogling at the statement pieces littered through the hotel — think gold waves, giant hand-blown chandeliers and chain curtains — you enter Basta, and it’s no less a treat for the eyes. This holds true whichever way you look. The larger-than-life artwork of Sophia Loren takes up one exquisite corner. It’s an ode to Hollywood that includes film posters painted straight onto the brick walls. Then there’s the live theatre of an open-plan kitchen. Swivel your head and the floor-to-ceiling windows offer up some stunning views of the Dubai Water Canal. It’s industrial and chic. There’s also an outdoor terrace (for the kinder temps).
Basta is a Roman trattoria meets a Florentine steakhouse meets a Naples pizzeria (the global pizza capital, of course), and the blend gives rise to an Italian eatery that serves up wholesome full-on-flavour; simple, classic ones.
We start off with some outstanding, real cheesy, garlic bread — there’s melty, gooey strings as you tear off a piece of warm bread. You can see they take their garlic bread seriously here, and that’s a good sign for all that’s to come. Perfect white eggs of burrata with tomatoes follows, the cheese uncomplicated and allowed to shine on its own. And shine it does in its ultra-creamy delicate self.
The cheery Jonay recommends his favourites, and we’re happy to follow his lead. He’s spot on too; not one of them disappoints. Up comes ricotta and spinach tortellini. The classic, made by grandmas all across Italy, impresses us immensely, with its hand-made pasta and creamy, flavourful filling. The humble crispy-base margherita pizza is up next. An oozing pizza, this is fit to go at the top of every comfort-food list. The wild mushroom risotto is another standout, with the distinct creamy richness and soft mushrooms perfect against the bite of the rice – simple yet luxurious.
Desserts: while the chocolate truffle cannoli is so-so, the tiramisu is a creamy, dreamy affair, elevated greatly with the delicious crushed biscotti. This is a dish we could go back over and over again for.
It’s all generous servings, and it’s all big on flavours. Basta translates as ‘enough’ in Italian, but this is a restaurant it’s going to be very hard to say enough to.
Where: Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai
Timings: Daily from 12pm to 12am
Average price for two: Dh300