Can the food at this Italian stand up to the decor?

When it comes to art and food, there’s an old saying from the 1900s that sums things up perfectly. Penned by then-bestselling Manhattan cookbook author Gesine Lemcke at the turn of the century, the maxim goes: “Eating is a necessity, but cooking is an art”.

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It’s this notion that comes to mind as we enter the newly opened LARTE at Manarat Al Saadiyat. Added to the art hub’s roster as part of its recent refurbishments, the Italian eatery serves up trattoria style food including antipasti, pizza and pasta.

To eat here is an experience; a towering scarlet gorilla sculpture greets us at the door, roaring and beating its chest, while the rest of the industrial-feel venue is lined with paintings and statement design pieces.

As it turns out, the Milan-import has its own philosophy to bring to the table: ‘bello, buono e bon fatto’, meaning the beautiful, the good and the well-made.

It’s an ethos that filters right down to the food. When it comes to antipasti, the traditional first course of an Italian meal, the artichoke salad is lightly dressed, while the stonebass carpaccio gives a punch of flavour to the delicate white fish with confit shallot and a mandarin dressing.

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Breaded and stuffed, the olive ascolane are crunchy with a burst of salty brine, while the vegetable minestrone soup is light and refreshing.

For the main course, we try the fish of the day – Sultan Ibrahim – paired with linguine. With olives, a hit of chilli and crispy fish, it’s delicious and we fight over the last morsels – the portion is definitely on the dainty size.

The lasagna is a little more robust in size with beef and meltingly tender pasta decorated with crispy tri-coloured lettuce leaves that we’re not sure whether to eat or Instagram.

Chef Lorenzo insists that we try the seared tuna. He’s right too – the little touches of pickled onions, chargrilled courgette and balsamic vinegar are balanced perfectly.

We round things out on a chocolate note. A light mousse sits atop a crunchy feullantine biscuit with shards of dark chocolate and salted caramel ice cream and sauce finishing off the dish. It sounds like it should be heavy, but it’s not – and it’s a sweet note to finish on.

With food and surroundings that ooze with style and colour, LARTE unites design and cuisine for a fresh new dining experience.

Need to know
Location: LARTE, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island
We say: Buonissimo!
Cost: AED 400 for two
Opening times: Sun–Wed 8am–11pm, Thu–Sat 8am–1am
Contact: 02 657 5888, larte.ae

WORDS Camille Hogg

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