If I were giving awards for the best restaurants in JLT, this little Italian-Mediterranean restaurant-cum-pizzeria in Cluster V would be in contention for one of the top spots. Via Vita is simply amazing. For my daughter and me, the feelgood we took home the afternoon we had lunch there started with the welcome at the door. That’s where we met Phil, the friendliest waiter in Dubai. In this beautiful winter weather, he seated us outside and talked us through their menu making several recommendations…none of which we listened to.
The interior of Via Vita is picture-book Italian, with pride of place taken by a gorgeous Vespa.
We started our meal with a rosemary and rock salt focaccia, so fresh and oven hot that we burnt our fingers tearing pieces to dunk in our olive oil and balsamic dip. There’s something very, very special in that dough because the focaccia was sensational, and Yasmin and I polished off the whole thing well before our mains arrived. We then spent the rest of the time cooling our fingers in the same oil and vinegar mixture. Anything dipped in olive oil and balsamic tastes great, even slighted singed fingers.
I have had veal Milanese in many, many restaurants around the world, including in Milan. The veal Milanese at Via Vita is easily up there with the best of them, authentic in every detail including its giant, flattened size; crisp and crunchy on the outside, yet moist and soft on the inside. It’s a mighty big portion too, and not for the fainthearted.
My daughter’s Penne alla Montanara, a deliriously delicious, creamy white sauced pasta dish, which she ordered without the typical wild mushrooms, was equally good. I ended up finishing off whatever she couldn’t…including all the crunchy bacon pieces at the bottom of her bowl. No wonder I could hardly breathe by the end of our daddy-daughter meal.
Seeing we were almost finished, Chef Andrea joined us for a chat, and to see if we had enjoyed our meal. Many people don’t know that this guy cut his culinary teeth in a Michelin star restaurant. I hear it is by those super high standards that he runs his kitchen. And here was my daughter telling him how much he looked like Matt LeBlanc’s character in Friends, Joey Tribbiani. I suppose that’s not too bad. She could have said he looks like Gunther.
Via Vita is a gem of a restaurant as much for its people, as for its ambiance, as for it fantastic food…, and well worth a detour.
Waste NOT. Want NOT.