We visit the fine dining Italian restaurant for its first-ever brunch.
Some things just never go out of style: the little black dress, trench coat and white dress shirt. Now, we can add something else to that list: Chic Nonna. The new fine dining Italian restaurant has been turning heads from the moment it opened. So, when we heard that it launched a new brunch, we strutted down to DIFC, Dubai to check it out.
Chic Nonna knows how to make an entrance. The big, bold ivy doors, which echo London’s legendary The Ivy, welcome you into a world of sophistication. So much so, that when we sit by the open kitchen, which boasts a woodfire oven, we keep saying: “It’s just so sophisticated”.
The phrase money talks and wealth whispers could easily be applied to Chic Nonna. There’s an understated elegance to the décor, which does not have to scream or shout. Instead, it feels like a cross between a library and gentleman’s member’s club, which is a masterclass in sprezzatura style.
The space ticks all the upscale boxes – big bouquets, crystal chandeliers, high ceilings, lit-up fireplaces and marble floors – and turns them up a notch. Sure, the floor-to-ceiling windows boast lots of light, but also Burj Khalifa views. Sure, the tablecloths are white, but also scraped between servings and covered when we make a mess.
It’s all about the little details, from the ivy that’s echoed in the chairs, drapes and green salt and pepper shakers to the stamped restaurant logo on the butter. If you look closely, you’ll find nods to Italy, as the shelves are lined with Roman-style statues and books on Ferrari as well as Spuntino.
Chic Nonna’s brunch is a fun sharing concept, which means you won’t suffer from food envy. So many restaurants treat vegetarians like an inconvenience, but here there are just as many veggie options. Plus, some were so good, we ordered them twice.
The starters range from the Polpettine Al Sugo (Wagyu meat balls in tomato sauce), to the Fritto Misto (fried mix seafood). We expect the Pizzetta Margherita on the next course, but thanks to the thin base, which tastes better on the second serving, it doesn’t leave us feeling full.
The mains include fish, meat and vegetarian dishes. The Sea Bass Fillet is roasted in an aquapazza sauce, but is a little on the salty side. The Lamb Shank is oh-so slow cooked, the meat just falls off the bone. The dish is served from a transparent pot, which is polished yet practical, as it keeps it on display and warm.
The vegetarian Lasagna, with asparagus, peas and pecorino, is an unexpected highlight. We lap up the well-seasoned, rich sauce, leaving nothing on the plate. Plus, the waiter kindly brings us something from the à la carte menu – the Parmigiana transforms the humble aubergine into a high-end dish.
The cocktails include Gin Basil, Negroni, Paloma and Spritz; wine includes Sauvignon Blanc Kim Crawford, Planeta Rose and Rosso Montepulciano; and sparkling includes Brut Perlé, Brut Rosé and Ferrari. Grazie bartender for the magical mocktails, too – we’d recommend the pretty peach Bellini.
Make sure you whizz up the glass lift to the bar. The setting looks like the sort of place you might find Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck strolling into in Roman Holiday. Plus, it has a private area, which oozes #homegoals.
Our only gripe – and this is minor – is that every time we asked to keep the menu, another waiter discreetly took it away. By the third time, we stop.
Overall, Chic Nonna flips the switch when it comes to brunch in Dubai. It’s not trying to be anything and everything. There are no dancers, DJs or debauchery, just old-school silver service – and it’s all the better for it.
Chic Nonna: a new restaurant with old-world charm, and that never goes out of style.
Chic Nonna’s brunch takes place on Saturdays from 1pm to 4pm. The packages start from AED 375 for non-alcoholic, AED 475 for house beverages and AED 575 for sparkling.
GO: Visit https://www.chicnonna.com/ for more information