Interview with the chef of Scalini, Monserrato Marini
April 7, 2018
A taste of the South of Italy in Dubai’s desert.
Set in a magnificent oasis in which elegance and stunning Mediterranean style are the norm, the newly opened Scalini attracts guests with its famous name and delicious, home-made food. Chef Monserrato Marini heads the kitchen of the restaurant and prepares dishes with an exquisite tenderness, as demonstrated in plates like homemade ribbons of pasta with ragu of veal & truffle or langoustines with butter, garlic & chili. Luxuria Lifestyle sat down for an interview with Chef Monserrato to learn more about the institution of Scalini and what we can expect from the new restaurant in Dubai.
Tell us a bit about your professional experience in the world of Italian cuisine?
Most of my knowledge about cooking was passed on to me by my mother. Growing up in Sardinia, I developed a real passion for food and cooking at a young age, and some of my fondest memories are from the kitchen. When I was 18, I knew that I needed to work in the food and beverage industry, and opened a bar in Sardinia. As soon as I turned 20, I moved to Porto Cervo to work in the kitchen of a popular Italian restaurant, where I really developed my skills. From there, I had the opportunity to move to London, where I spent 13 years gaining experience in some of the most famous Italian trattorias.
How did your collaboration with Scalini begin?
When I had the opportunity to become part of the team opening Scalini Dubai, I took it immediately. It is such an exciting project, bringing the best parts of Italy and London to the UAE. I am really passionate about fresh produce, so one of the biggest tasks before we opened was sourcing the finest ingredients and getting many of them imported from overseas.
Since I started working with Scalini, it has been such a journey. From developing the menu, ensuring that it meets the standards and preferences of the market to seeing our plans in action. Nothing makes me happier than seeing our guests enjoy the dishes that I have created, and I am so proud of what we have achieved in just a few months.
How do you like Dubai? How is it different from other places you have lived before?
Dubai is a beautiful city, and unlike anywhere else I have lived in the world. I love the sunshine and spending time at the beach, as it reminds me of summers back home in Sardinia. The people in Dubai are some of the nicest I have met, always smiling, happy and friendly, it makes such a difference to your everyday life.
What makes Scalini different from other Italian restaurants in Dubai?
There are a lot of Italian restaurants opening in Dubai at the moment, which shows how much the public here enjoy this type of cuisine, and Scalini truly stands out as the finest new venue. Our guests really enjoy the food, and we have tried hard to ensure our menu pays homage to the London branch and caters to the UAE market at the same time.
In the kitchen, we pay a lot of attention to detail, from importing the best ingredients directly from Italy to cooking each dish to perfection – our mothers wouldn’t have it any other way! The restaurant itself has a wonderful ambiance, providing perfect summer evenings on the terrace with exquisite cuisine and excellent service.
What makes Scalini an institution?
Scalini first opened in 1988 and is now one of the oldest traditional fine dining restaurants in London. Founded by Mario Paggetti, a true pioneer of the popularity of Italian cuisine in England, Scalini is not just a restaurant – it’s like a second home. Guests feel so welcome, the staff is like family, the food is cooked to perfection, creating a truly enjoyable experience – it really is no wonder that its success has lasted generations. Now, with the launch of the Dubai venue, Scalini has maintained its authentic charm with a natural evolution of the brand.
What are the signature dishes of Scalini? Which desserts would you recommend to try?
The Spaghetti all’Astice is our stand-out signature dish, and my personal favorite. It combines delectable, succulent lobster marinated in a buttery sauce and freshly made pasta fused together with sharp, sweet tomatoes and aromatic parsley. Honest, Italian cooking at its best. I also love the Langoustines, grilled in garlic and butter. We have sourced the finest in the region and they have such a wonderful flavour.
Our signature dessert is the Tiramisu, its sweet, creamy and indulgent. I would also recommend the Panna Cotta con Gelato di Pistacchio e Fragole, a heavenly panna cotta with strawberries and pistachio ice cream that will ensure your meal ends on a sweet note.
What are the future plans of Scalini? Any more expansion planned in the near future?
At the moment, we are focusing on our current venues. We have some really exciting concepts launching in Dubai over the next few months, including a new cocktail bar with delicious creations developed by our specialized bar team. Over the summer, we will also be launching the Scalini Summer Garden, with a glass roof covering the terrace and plenty of air conditioning, creating an oasis of cool for guests to enjoy in Dubai’s hotter months.
Interview by Alina Dyachenko for Luxuria Lifestyle