Segreto is ‘secret’ in Italian, and this exquisite Italian restaurant is hidden and perched atop an entire private corner of the Madinat Jumeirah complex offering an outstanding dining experience in the evening.
Since we’re on the topic of secrets, I’ll share three secrets for instantly getting a handle on the authenticity of an Italian restaurant – these are three non-negotiable traits that will have Italians walk out if not met with decor.
Firstly, fresh bread on the table.
Segreto gets a check-mark!
Second, the pasta must be cooked al dente. Another full and happy check for Segreto!
And third, the coffee must be extracted just right – and yes, Segreto passes all three tests with flying colors… and now I can proceed to tell you more about the restaurant.
The entrance is reached up and through the rooftop terrace, which is a brilliant venue for an open-air party!
And especially once the sun sets and the stars come out!
And the main dining area downstairs is very cleverly arranged into nooks and crannies which continue the ‘secrecy’ feeling, and which provide for many different viewpoints and also privacy for conversations at your table.
A hallway through the garden leads to yet another terrace, and another dining area – the bar.
Besides the elegant premises, Segreto prides itself on its silver service, and truly the team was impeccable in its delivery of a fine-dining experience – a warm welcome, a friendly and knowledgeable manager took on the role of Maîtr d’, and the nicest and most professional waitress assigned to our table made sure our experience was truly exceptional.
The set three-course menu is simplicity itself and it feels too modest for the very elegant premises, although there are options for everyone – and of course there is the extensive a la carte menu, where Segreto can reach full potential.
The two starters above form a trio with a chicken liver pate, and the mains are mostly pasta, with a beef tagliata option.
The tagliatelle alla bolognese were very tasty and well-prepared, and a delight on the palate. The dish is considered a heavy one, and so the quantity served was adequate. Italians tend to serve a minimal amount of sauce, just to color the pasta, and at Segreto the ratio was in favor of the sauce. Not a problem when crispy bread is present to help scoop up the remaining sauce!
It’s clear the sauce was cooked long and slow, and reduced, as it should be; and the meat itself was of top-most quality.
The other pasta dish we tried was a spaghetti with olive oil, garlic, chili pepper, and prawns – and it was superb.
In a dish like this, in which the flavors are simple and the sauce minimal, it is where the al dente must be sharp and felt at each bite, to give the proper texture. And Segreto’s chef dropped the spaghetti from the water in good time. Also a winner was the preparation of the crispy garlic separate from the main sauce, and then presented on top.
The last course, dessert, presented three choices, all enticing, and elegant.
Overall, the set menu was a light and lovely serenade of Italian dishes, like a business lunch but served at dinnertime, and I think it should be best considered in conjunction with the excellent main menu, which brings into play the fine-dining aspect of the restaurant, including fresh live lobster, lamb rump, tenderloin, several fish options, as well as a wide selections of wines.