In 2012, an original concept boldly stepped into the lifestyle dining space in Dubai’s fast-growing DIFC district. That restaurant, Roberto’s, has carved out its own special place on the Dubai F&B landscape as a trend-leading modern Italian restaurant and has generated a reputation as a brand that has never rested on its laurels. By being first to adapt to the ever-changing Dubai demographic, Roberto’s blazed the trail for other restauranteurs who had a vision but had very few homegrown references of success to benchmark against. Since opening in DIFC, Roberto’s has become one of the rare Dubai origin dining concepts that have successfully gone international and have become an important DIFC homegrown restaurant.
Over the last decade, Roberto’s brand has grown into an icon on the UAE scene and has ventured into international markets and culinary verticals with great success. Needless to say; it has been a busy period for the team behind the brand. Plans are afoot for the brand to grow a bigger footprint in the Middle East and to also expand operations to new destinations in the Asian market.
The brand has made great strategic moves and has shown great agility by creating “Roberto’s at Sea” in 2020 – a unique maritime adventure on a 52-foot yacht with a private chef, waiter, and bar service. Launched in 2020, Roberto’s at home catering division proudly boasts the likes of Huda Kattan as clients in the UAE.
Mustafa Turgul, Roberto’s Brand Ambassador, and co-founder has been at the center of the brand evolution since opening and he is renowned for his legendary approach to hosting. Mustafa’s F&B experience in Dubai stretches back to the 2000’s and he brings a wealth of experience when helping the Roberto’s brand stay relevant and forward thinking. His passion and vision for a trend-setting modern Italian concept came true when he opened the doors in 2012 and he has never looked back. Reflecting on the Roberto’s origins he says, “When we opened Roberto’s in DIFC the trend in Dubai’s restaurant scene was for big groups, hotels or investors to bring in global restaurant brands and to simply press play. We wanted to challenge this thinking and to create something original, new and independent that was born in Dubai. I am so proud of what the team has achieved over the last 10 years with the brand, and so excited for the 10 years ahead.”
A lifestyle dining brand is born
Mustafa and the Roberto’s team have curated an experience at Roberto’s that is as much of a lifestyle or fashion statement as it is a dining or lounge experience. It was one of the first venues in the city to create a multi-faceted experience that incorporated a vibrant entertainment program, a world class cigar lounge, and a stylish cocktail bar to marry with their critically acclaimed food offering. Roberto’s has always evolved to match Dubai’s appetite.
As a Dubai leading entertainment destination, Roberto’s has become synonymous with thinking differently and evolving the independent F&B scene in Dubai, which is why it’s always a dining destination that is top of mind with global tastemakers including the likes of Bill Clinton, Lionel Messi, Jennifer Lopez and international royalty.
Steped in world class execution
While Roberto’s has always been a go-to lifestyle destination for Dubai’s movers and shakers, the culinary program has bona fide credentials which have always been at the heart of the concept. The award-winning Group Executive Chef Francesco Guarracinos with the renowned 9 Star collaboration Michelin chef Enrico Bartolini for every new menu release, which positions Roberto’s as an innovative modern Italian experience. The evolution of the culinary program has included groundbreaking elements including the first crudo bar ‘Rawberto’s’ and an aged Italian meat butchery for guests. Chef Bartolini said, “Our approach with the Roberto’s menu is always to take authentic Italian cuisine and world class ingredients forward to innovate and create a modern expression of Italian food.” Bartolini and Guarracino’s epicurean mantra is clearly evident in the unique Roberto’s dishes such as the grilled octopus with cacio and pepe sauce, or the Calamarata with red prawns that have their own innovative origins stories.
The excellence in the kitchen is always complimented by the elegant service in the dining room, the vibrant lounge, the iconic terrace, and at its buzzing bar. The brand has always been a leader in the design style stakes too and always puts it best foot forward. The DIFC location got an interiors and layout refresh in 2018 which amplified its iconic Burj Khalifa views and its subtle approach to luxurious touches and lighting that creates elegant spaces across the diverse setting to suit all occasions. It has continually pushed boundaries to embrace Dubai’s lounge and dining scene with impact at every opportunity.
The decade ahead
Building on their success over the last 10 years the Roberto’s brand has exciting developments in the pipeline to ring in the next decade. In the spirit of reinvention, the Roberto’s team is proud to announce two outstanding projects in the DIFC venue: the new premium lounge with a designed cocktail-bar and the makeover of the ‘Cortina’ terrace by the end of 2022. To add to its international portfolio, which expanded in 2019 to Porto Montenegro with Roberto’s Mare, expansion plans are confirmed for this year opening in The Ritz Carlton Amman, St. Regis Doha and for the St. Regis Muscat (2023).
Moving forward, the brand aims to branch out to major hubs across the world and have recently opened its Asian Head Quarters in Singapore where they expect to open Roberto’s Singapore in 2023.
With such a fabulous back-story, Roberto’s embarks on a series of stellar celebrations set to kick-off in March, with four exclusive events for gourmands.
Monday 21st March – Rawberto’s:
Spotlight on the first Italian crudo bar in the UAE with a one-night-only set seafood menu serving gastronomists the best products available in the Middle East.
Tuesday 22nd March – The Italian Butcher:
Chef Danilo Valla showcases the finest cuts from the in-house meat dry-ager through a specially crafted menu.
Thursday 24th March – The Best of Enrico:
9-Michelin Star Chef Enrico Bartolini curates a Gala Dinner with favorites from his 7 years of mentorship to Roberto’s brand.
Friday 25th March – A Decade of Roberto’s:
The pinnacle of the anniversary celebrations, world-renowned Ben DJ headlines this red carpet event where guests can indulge in special Anniversary festivities.
More exciting surprises are anticipated for the Italian institution’s anniversary week – watch this space for further announcements.