42 Midtown review: A blend of Italian classics and American barbecue

New York meets Rome in the heart of one of Dubai's most vibrant communities

42 Midtown's seafood linguine
Powered by automated translation

When you hear Italian-American, you can be forgiven for thinking of Robert De Niro or Al Pacino.

But it works for food, too (and we’re not just talking Chicago Town pizzas).

That’s where 42 Midtown comes in, fronted by Sicilian head chef Fabrizio Vermiglio, bringing flavours from New York’s 42nd Street to The Greens in Dubai.

Where to sit, what to expect

On arrival at Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens, the neighbourhood’s undisputed social hub, the restaurant can be found on the first floor.

Drawing inspiration from the city that never sleeps, it’s an art-deco space featuring dining booths, a lively bar area and a terrace that’s open all year.

Long Scandinavian-style dining tables line the parquet flooring inside, while the outdoor area has a more minimalist feel that makes it a solid candidate for a date venue.

The marble bar and open-plan kitchen immediately catch the eye, with prime views of the culinary team at work. It exudes an immediately cool vibe, with vintage styling and an abundance of greenery giving the venue a sense of chic modernity.

At the heart of the restaurant is a wood-fire oven that gives an unmistakably homely feel harking back to chef Vermiglio’s roots in what’s an otherwise ultra-contemporary setting.

But the undisputed centrepiece of this vibrant new spot is the DJ booth that gives 42 Midtown a flagrant sense of Dubai alongside its Italian-American outlook, with gentle beats adding to the ambiance and live jazz musicians a regular feature.

The menu

Carefully designed to appeal to an eclectic range of palates and occasions, the menu offers classic dishes with complex, smoky notes.

The selection of bar bites, perfect for after-work meet-ups, features everything from mini veal hot dogs to baked Camembert, corn fritters and charcoal eggplant arancini.

Among the appetisers, you can find both a cheese and a charcuterie board alongside a range of salads, truffle mac and cheese and State Island crab croquettes.

Opting to sit outside in the relaxed outdoor terrace, my dining companion and I followed the waiter’s advice and went for the sea basket – a selection of semolina-coated soft-shell crab, rock and pink prawns, baby squid and silver fish.

As sociable as it sounds, the basket is served in the centre of the table for diners to share, alongside an avocado and lime dip. The coating means this isn’t a messy opening course, lending itself to a more elegant dining experience than the dish’s name might suggest.

Next up, it’s time for the main event of the evening.

The selection of dishes stays true to the barbecue theme, with an assortment of burgers and sandwiches available, as well as a variety of meat dishes cooked on the charcoal fire grill, while wood-fired artisanal pizzas and pasta dishes pay homage to the venue’s Italian influence.

We’re instinctively drawn to the charcoal fire grill options. I go for the surf and turf, which brings a succulent Wagyu beef medallion together with an expertly cooked lobster tail, sitting on mashed potato, mushrooms and hollandaise sauce. The smokehouse feel is inescapable, with every mouthful bringing that delicious, almost-burnt outer texture.

My dining companion, meanwhile, goes for the Wagyu rib-eye steak, served with corn on the cob and smoked mashed potato. Staying true to the restaurant's smoky barbecue theme, every ingredient of this dish is prepared on the fire grill – leaving the corn with that beautiful, crunchy outer texture, while the smoked mash arguably steals the show. The steak, as you'd expect, is cooked to perfection with the distinct, charcoal flavour combining brilliantly with the intricate texture of the 250g cut of prime beef.

We round off the meal the way we began. With the help of our trusty waiter, we decide to share our dessert options – with one serving of the New York cheesecake combined with the chocolatey delight that is the 42 Midtown lava cake.

Both are served with a bit of extra personality coming from chef Vermiglio, with the cheesecake coming atop a bed of berry compote and the lava cake complemented by almond ice cream. They’re both as delicious (and indulgent) as you’d expect.

One thing’s for sure, you won’t be leaving 42 Midtown hungry.

A chat with the chef

From the Italian island of Sicily in the heart of the Mediterranean, Fabrizio Vermiglio, 40, has been travelling for more than 20 years.

The chef says he was drawn to Dubai a year ago because he’d travelled to almost every continent on the planet, but was “missing the Middle East”. Indeed, after he’s scratched that itch, he intends to try Africa next.

He describes himself as an international chef, but one who enjoys his creature comforts and thrives when cooking with ingredients that remind him of home.

“Being Sicilian, Mediterranean ingredients are key to my cooking,” he says. “I grew up with tomato, eggplant, basil, orange, lemon – all these kinds of ingredients. For me, they mean ‘home’.

“But once you start travelling the world, you need to be more flexible and more open-minded. Being a chef, you need to taste. You need to try different cuisines. I think I'm eclectic enough to cover a little bit of everything."

For vegetarians, his dish of choice is the barbecued eggplant served with a glaze and secret sauce, while he says meat lovers can’t go wrong with the 12-hour cherry oak wood-smoked brisket.

As for seafood, chef Vermiglio’s go-to is the seafood linguine – crab meat and prawns served in a sauce of garlic, chili, cherry tomatoes and lemon zest.

Price point and contact information

Bar bites are priced in the Dh40 to Dh75 ($11 to $20) range, appetisers are Dh60 to Dh195, mains are Dh75 to Dh285, while desserts are Dh45 to Dh85.

42 Midtown is open daily from noon to 3.30pm and then from 5pm to midnight on weekdays and 5pm to 2am on Friday and Saturday.

Reservations can be made by contacting 04 529 1111 or visiting www.jumeirah.com/42-midtown.

This review was conducted at the invitation of the restaurant

Updated: January 12, 2024, 6:02 PM