Via Toledo Dubai review: where gourmet pizzas offer a slice of Italy in JBR

Chefs say the trick is in the 'senza morso' dough, meaning it doesn’t really require the effort of biting

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Located in the colossal Address Beach Resort in Jumeirah Beach Residence, Via Toledo arrives fresh from Vienna.

Chef-patron Francesco Calo opened the original in Austria in 2016 — and its sister venue Dubai has been serving gourmet pizzas since June.

The niche Neapolitan-style pizzeria is a stickler for classic dough, yet elevates this humblest of ingredients to lofty proportions, with toppings such as Beluga caviar and Alba truffles.

The most decadent pizza costs a whopping Dh5,200 and comes topped with all the caviar and gold leaf your heart could desire.

What to expect and where to sit

The interior is peppered with sculptures and artworks. Photo: Via Toledo Dubai

Flanked by views of Ain Dubai and the magnificent sparkle of JBR, the restaurant is suave, much like its patrons. Seating is plentiful with options inside and outside. For the warmer months, reserve one of the booths from where you can people watch as if you were in an actual Viennese piazza.

If you want to be in thick of the action, sit in the central banquette, which is buzzing with conversation and eclectic music, ranging from Italian singer Vinicio Capossela to Roman rockers Maneskin.

The decor, all flown in from Italy, is plush with soft furnishings in blues and blushing pinks, plus marble statues and artwork derived from Renaissance masters. The art deco motifs and monochrome floors under an industrial roof remind me of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, but with more pizzazz and a lot more pizza.

The menu

From truffles and caviar to gold leaf, the restaurant is all about gourmet ingredients. Photo: Via Toledo Dubai

My dining partner and I delve mouth-first into the main event: the pizzas.

We start with chef Calo’s favourite, marinara doppio crunch (Dh120). This, we are told, is twice-cooked; first the dough is deep-fried in olive oil and then it’s put into the oven to dry out any excess moisture. The base is topped with fresh San Marzano tomato sauce, semi-dried yellow tomatoes, mountain oregano, capers and a basil emulsion.

The first bite is enough to make me a believer. This is perfection on a plate; the dough has the most incredible crunch and, because it is fried as well, only the top layer is deliciously saturated with the sauce, leaving the bottom thunderously crisp. The sauce is an amplification of San Marzano tomatoes, juicy and fragrant, while the basil emulsion is deliciously verdant. The capers add a playful burst of salt intermittently, while the intense mountain oregano will make you question the sawdust you’ve been sprinkling over your pies thus far.

Next we try the I collori dell’orto (Dh150), a vegetarian pizza topped with skilfully made creams of courgettes, aubergine, peppers, pumpkin and friarielli — also called rapini, a leafy green staple of Neapolitan cuisine. On the base sit fior di latte and pecorino cheeses. It’s a novel take on a vegetable pizza and is wonderfully flavoursome, although it would benefit from a little more texture.

The third pizza, the fantastically named alga di mare, is wholly unexpected and unfamiliar. The restaurant’s carefully created dough is topped with fior di latte cheese, bluefin tuna tartare, stracciatella and fried seaweed.

I am a little apprehensive of how these large flavours will coexist, but am soon taken in. The soft fior di latte is the stage upon which the meaty tuna dominates, only to be countered in every bite by delicate stracciatella, clearing your palate for a burst of umami from the seaweed.

Next we try the tartufata with summer black truffles (Dh290), coupled with ricotta. It is an undeniably delicious dish, but almost borders on safe as it follows the rapturous gourmet tuna pizza.

Our last dish for the evening is linguine alle vongole (Dh190), a classic that is kept authentic. The clams are soft, sweet and swimming in a silky sauce.

For the rare non-pizza lover, there are mains such as Neapolitan pasta e patate with langoustine (Dh135) and Australian Angus tenderloin (Dh420).

After a whirlwind of dough and other delicacies, we succumb to dessert. The cannolo scomposto with Alba white truffle crumble (Dh110), is aromatic, creamy with sweetened ricotta and punctuated with cannoli shells. My only grievance is it is rather hard to get to as it is served in a wine glass.

Standout dish

The marinara doppio crunch pizza comes on twice-cooked dough. Photo: Via Toledo Dubai

I am compelled to pick two pizzas. The twice-cooked marinara doppia crunch is revolutionary and its apparent simplicity sings once you taste the quality ingredients.

The alga di mare is, for me, the pizza of all pizzas and revelatory in its combination of diametrically opposed ingredients.

It all boils down to chef Calo’s perfected dough, aptly named intensa, which we are informed is so well developed and executed that it is “senza morso”, meaning it doesn’t really require the effort of biting.

It is important to note the alga di mare pizza will be on the menu from September; however, it can be ordered by calling ahead.

A chat with the chef

Chef Francesco Calo. Photo: Via Toledo Dubai

Chef Calo is from Puglia and, after working in the family business, founded Via Toledo in Vienna in 2016. He brought his concept to the UAE because, he says: “I was fascinated by Dubai.”

Calo says dough is his favourite ingredient to work and he loves to study and refine it on a daily basis. “My cooking follows a gourmet style, which absolutely does not forget Italian gastronomic tradition. It is a combination of tradition and innovation.”

The chef’s recommendations include: colours of the garden pizza for vegetarians; Australian Angus tenderloin, which is dry-aged for 150 days, for meat lovers; and crudite with caviar or caviale su tela pizza for seafood and caviar connoisseurs.

Price point and contact information

Appetisers range from Dh95 to Dh230; pizzas from Dh60 to Dh290; and desserts from Dh75 to Dh85.

The restaurant only offers a dinner service from 6pm to 2am. Reservations can be made by calling 050 545 9278 or visiting www.viatoledo.ae.

This review was conducted at the invitation of the restaurant

Updated: August 13, 2022, 10:44 AM
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