Review: Via Toledo, Address Beach Resort

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It claims to house one of the best pizzas in town. It’s a bold claim – but we’re ready to back it up…

In Dubai’s booming culinary scene, it can be hard to make a good impression. Opening in the low summer season adds another layer of challenge. So Via Toledo has its work cut out for it.

It helps that the concept, which opened recently at Address Beach Resort, has a master pizza maker and star chef at the helm in the form of Francesco Calo. The Italian chef first established Via Toledo in cosmopolitan Vienna six years ago, where he honed his unique take on classic Neapolitan pizzas. With this knowledge, we expect to enter a cozy trattoria-style setting with a ceramic pizza oven as the centerpiece. Instead, we are struck by the size of the restaurant. An exposed industrial ceiling is filled with shimmering chandeliers and hanging wildlife and upholstery in teal, dusty pink and cream is installed for groups of two to ten. The bay windows allow us to contemplate with nostalgia the terrace facing the sea which will undoubtedly be the perfect place for an aperitif once the weather allows it. But except for a large lemon tree right in front of the semi-open open kitchen, it’s hard to tell this is an Italian restaurant.

Undeterred, we move on to the menu, which is much more focused on the concept. In fact, the first two pages are devoted to proudly explaining the brand and explaining the details that went into making Chef Calo’s personal “Intensa” pizza mix. Before getting there, we start with the Polpo alla Brace (Dhs180), which comes in the form of a piece of grilled octopus fried in breadcrumbs that resembles a chicken fillet, served with a fennel soup. Unique? Definitely, and we’re impressed with the flavors. But the dish is a bit small for the price.

For the main course, we try a pasta dish: a linguine vongole (190 Dhs) and we have fun swirling each perfectly cooked piece of pasta around our spoon, sucking in the tomato-infused garlic sauce . But really, you’re here for pizza, and out of 18 delicious creations, innovatively packaged with unique to Dubai toppings like caviar, burratina and bluefin tuna tartare, we go for the Marinara Doppio Crunch (Dhs120). Chef Calo’s double-baked pizza (the dough is first lightly fried for about a minute before baking) topped simply with red and yellow tomatoes, capers and crispy oregano is simply amazing. The perfect ratio of a crispy base to just enough filling, with a crust still a bit mushy inside, we politely begin to slice each slice with a knife and fork, but quickly abandon cutlery in favor of eating our hand, licking our fingers as we go.

Dessert lovers can expect a trio of sweet pizzas for dessert, or opt for a creamy millefoglie (Dhs75) elegantly served in a martini glass with a drizzle of chocolate. For those looking for something a little less sweet, the classic Sicilian Cannolo Scomposto (110 Dhs) gets an upgrade from Chef Calo with a crumble topping and white truffle.

The restaurant may be quiet at the moment, but with such good pizza and a terrace just waiting to be enjoyed in the winter, Via Toledo is full of potential.

Via Toledo, Address Beach Resort, The Walk, JBR, daily from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tel: (050) 54 59 278, viatoledo.ae

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