“Would you like to join us for a meal at an amazing new North Italian eatery?”
The old Ekta would have jumped and said YES immediately to that question. The new Ekta A.A. (After Allergies) had to stop and think. After all, how can you avoid gluten/wheat while dining at an Italian restaurant?
Nevertheless, after some convincing by the wonderful Jo at DPQ, I set off to Nais Italian Kitchen in JLT. As insurance, I decided to take along some less picky eaters – Ali and Zaid (from the Roundmenu) team – to give me a better understanding of the food.
Nais is tucked away in Cluster F of the HDS tower in Jumeirah Lake Towers. When I arrived at 1 pm, it was already packed with lunchgoers who worked in the nearby offices. Thankfully, owner Marianna had set aside a table for us. We decided to let the expert choose our menu.
- Starters: Piatto Piemontese, Farinata with Gorgonzola Cheese
- Mains: Gnocchi al ragout bianco delicato, pasta of the day with stracciatella cheese, gluten-free pasta with fresh tomatoes,
- Desserts: Tiramisu, panna cotta alla nutella
The Piatto Piemontese was an appetitzer platter consisting of roasted peppers, chilled veal and their version of Russian salad. However, the highlight of the first course had to be the farinata – an Italian chickpea crepe, that is perfect for those with gluten allergies like me.
Our main course consisted of gnocchi in white sauce (again gluten-free), a basic gluten-free pasta with chopped tomatoes and the star of the meal – pasta with tomato sauce and stracciatella cheese. I admitedly cheated and sampled a bit of this after Ali couldn’t stop raving about it, so I let his words describe the dish:
Perfectly cooked (insert pasta name here – I would call it big tubey pasta) – brave for the Middle East as the general palate here is used to over-cooked pasta. The sauce was subtle but delicious, and the best part was the creamy straciatella cheese perfectly melted over the dish. Overall an unpretentious, simple but absolutely delicious dish.
I fail at remembering the exact name of the dish but I’m sure if you ask Marianna for a repeat, she would gladly oblige. She also mentioned that if people called ahead and requested for gluten-free pasta, the chef would be happy to whip the dish up!
And even though we were pretty full at this point, we couldn’t resist something sweet and had a fitting end to the meal with traditional tiramisu and panna cotta alla nutella. This one had us split, while Ali and I enjoyed the tiramisu, Zaid polished off the panna cotta. There is definitely enough variety to suit everyone’s tastes.
I must admit that earlier if someone told me to head over to JLT for dinner, I would have quickly declined. However, after sampling Nais, I wonder how many hidden gems of restaurants can be found there. Nais is one venue you won’t mind navigating the concrete jungles for!
What: Náis Italian Kitchen
Why: Authentic Italian food at reasonable prices
Where: HDS Tower, Cluster 5, JLT, Tel: 04 452 9991
How much: AED 130 for a meal similar to the one reviewed
Pros: Unique dishes with authentic flavors
Cons: Hidden away in the JLT concrete jungle
Rating: 4 stars
Don’t forget, you can save up to 25% on your bill at Nais by booking via Roundmenu.
Disclaimer: This review contains a product/service that was provided for consideration by the brand or its PR firm.