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Exploring Regional Italian Cuisine in the UAE

Italian cuisine is celebrated worldwide for its delicious diversity. However, only some realise there is a rich tapestry of regional Italian cuisines, each with distinct flavours and ingredients. The fascinating aspect of these regional cuisines is how they’ve evolved, reflecting Italy’s history and diverse geographical conditions. In the UAE, a culinary hub known for its extravagance and luxury; you can find representations of these regional Italian delights. With an impressive array of restaurants, the UAE offers meticulously crafted and authentic dishes to Italy’s varied regions. This article aims to explore and appreciate the regional Italian culinary offerings in the UAE.

Italian cuisine in UAE

Northern Italian Delights

Northern Italy, known for its rich and creamy dishes, frequently incorporates butter, rice, corn, and cheese into its culinary repertoire. The cooler climate has influenced the region’s food, producing more robust, hearty meals. Notable dishes from regions like Lombardy, Piedmont, and Emilia-Romagna have found their way to the UAE. With dishes such as Linguine Alla “Zio Nele”, Farfalle Saffron, Tagliatelle al Gamberi, Fettuccine Alfredo, and Fettuccine ai Funghi (truffle & mushroom), Il Forno offers a mouth-watering taste of these regions, underscoring its commitment to high-quality ingredients and classic preparation techniques.

Central Italian Flavours

Central Italy is celebrated for its traditional and rustic dishes, which make substantial use of olive oil, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. This region’s rolling hills yield some of the most remarkable wines and olive oils globally. Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio culinary standouts include classic dishes like Spaghetti Alla Bolognese, Spaghetti Polpette Di Carne, and Spaghetti Carbonara. In the UAE, restaurants like Roberto’s in Dubai beautifully encapsulate the essence of Central Italian cuisine through a carefully curated menu, providing an authentic and sophisticated dining experience that’s akin to a culinary journey through the heart of Italy.

Southern Italian Treasures

Southern Italy is renowned for its bold and vibrant flavours, with an emphasis on tomatoes, olive oil, and freshly caught seafood. The Mediterranean climate provides the perfect conditions for growing flavourful fruits and vegetables. Regions like Campania are world-famous for pizza and mozzarella, while Calabria and Apulia bring the heat with their spicy dishes and fresh produce.

Nestled in JVC Circle Mall, Il Forno shines as a hidden gem, celebrated as one of the best Italian pasta restaurants in the UAE. Their dishes, such as Spaghetti Salsa Di Ostriche, Spaghetti Ai Frutti di Mare, Penne Arrabiata, and Penne Al Peperoncino, echo the sun-drenched landscapes and rich cultural history of Southern Italy, providing an authentic culinary experience to all their guests.

The Allure of the Italian Islands

The Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily boast exotic flavours that emphasise seafood alongside an eclectic mix of influences from Arab and Spanish cultures. Dishes from these islands are often enriched with aromatic herbs and citrus, reflecting the region’s natural timeless treasures.

In the UAE, an array of restaurants offers the chance to experience these unique flavours. One standout dish to try is the Spaghetti Paradiso, a testament to the essence of Sicilian cuisine. It features a hearty blend of pesto and tomato – fundamental ingredients in Sicilian fare. This dish not only tantalises your palate but also reflects the rich maritime heritage and vibrant culinary traditions of the Italian islands. It’s a journey through Italy’s diverse food culture, served up in the heart of the UAE.

Northeastern Italian Cuisine

Northeastern Italy is famed for its elegant and refined cuisine. The regions of Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Trentino-Alto Adige are steeped in a rich culinary history with influences from neighbouring countries. Signature dishes from these areas include Farfalle Saffron, Linguine Alla “Zio Nele”, and Tagliatelle al Gamberi, which often feature ingredients like risotto, polenta, and seafood, and are frequently accompanied by the region’s fine wines. In the UAE, Scala Del Nonna is renowned for recreating these Northeastern Italian dishes, and the chef’s dedication to authenticity, coupled with a distinct focus on preserving the regional flavours, making it a must-visit for anyone seeking an immersive Italian dining experience.

Fusion of Italian and Emirati Influences

There is an intriguing fusion between Italian and Emirati flavours in the UAE. This includes incorporating local ingredients like saffron and dates into Italian dishes. This fusion represents a marriage of rich culinary traditions. Il Forno is a pasta restaurant in Dubai that offers innovative menus combining Italian and Emirati cuisines and is considered by some as the best pasta restaurant in Dubai.


Our culinary journey has taken us through the diverse regions of Italy and their representations in the UAE – from the creamy delights of Northern Italy to the exotic flavours of the Italian islands. The UAE is a treasure trove for those seeking authentic Italian cuisine. Whether it’s a pasta restaurant in Abu Dhabi serving the best pasta in Abu Dhabi or a hidden gem in Dubai, the richness and authenticity of Italian flavours are right here in the UAE. Take your palate on an Italian adventure, and buon appetito! Encourage others to embark on this journey and keep an open mind to the fusion of flavours, as this adventure is not only about food but also about cultural appreciation and learning.

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