The Nice Guy Dubai Near+Far Rating: 8/10
Why Book The Nice Guy
An intriguing plaque stands on the outside of The Nice Guy Dubai. It reads, ‘no photos’. Strange, in a city so fuelled by social media, but a sign that’s remained since it opened in late 2022. With no evidence of the antics inside the high walls that guard the terrace – paired with a reservations-only policy – a sort of secretive members club buzz was born, and while that’s slightly worn off, the buzz is still there. Created by the Los Angeles-based The h.wood Group, The Nice Guy Dubai came to the city by way of Los Angeles- where it attracts an A-list crowd in its West Hollywood restaurant (again, with the same reservations-only policy) and is soon to open an alpine escape in glamorous ski resort Aspen.
Unlike the name suggests, the space is inspired by the cronies of the Mafia, with a playful Bugsy Malone-meets-Goodfellas vibe. Guests can dine in two different spaces – out on the terrace, with views of the DIFC skyline and Emirates Towers, or in the moody, dimly lit, loud dining room with its distinct Italian-American vibe.
The interiors: 8/10
Stepping through the guarded entrance, through the terrace and into the main restaurant, guests feel like they’re stepping back in time to the nightclubs of Prohibition. The vintage, American-Italian-inspired vibe is reminiscent of a mobster hangout, with dark mood lighting, black and gold details, intimate booth seating, a glamorous bar and plenty of cosy corners to hide away in. Out on the terrace, there’s a more light, peaceful vibe, illuminated with soft candlelight and shrouded in greenery. – and offering those stunning views onto the twinkling towers of DIFC.
The vibe: 8/10
Sultry, secretive, intimate and grown up, this is the spot for a date night or elegant or discreet rendezvous with friends. The killer soundtrack creates a great vibe – the music is much louder indoors than on the terrace, so be mindful of the vibe you want to create during your stay. This is a spot for late-night diners, with the restaurant and bar open until 3am on weekends and 1am on weekdays – so make sure to book later to experience some of the vibe, as early diners might miss the buzz.
The food: 8/10
Classically Italian-American, The Nice Guy’s menu is full of comfort food and all the Italian creations diners genuinely want to eat – think lots of red meat, fresh fish and deep fried. That being said, there are plenty of green and healthy dishes to appeal to a cosmopolitan array of diners. We start with the kale salad (AED85), a vast mound of chopped twirls perfectly dressed with lemon vinaigrette and parmesan (other salads include the classically American Loni’s Chopped Salad (AED85). Instead of opting for one of the many starters – tartare, fried calamari, carpaccio – we pair it with pasta in a typically Italian primi style. Umming between cacio e pepe, we’re stealthily informed of a chef special, a rich, umami, moreish melange of mushrooms with white truffle, which we delightfully take up the suggestion.
The Nice Guy’s prime cuts are splendid, so while the array of pillowy pizzas is tempting, we save room and share a juicy black Angus ribeye with balsamic brown butter and thyme (AED490), paired with white truffle and parmesan fries and charred broccolini with zingy Calabrian salsa. Desserts are typically Italian and indulgent – and we dine on a tiramisu and vanilla panna cotta with first berries while taking in the skyline from the ambient terrace. Drinkers will appreciate a creative cocktail menu – order the Italian aperitifs and digestive – and wine list, while non-drinkers will delight in a fantastic range of non-sugary, more thoughtful non-alcoholic serves, like the Aqua vera – coconut water, aloe vera, citrus and agave.
Efficient, smiley, and unafraid to stop and chat and recommend – and, convincingly push – delicious dishes this reviewer would not usually go for. Wine recommendations were superb, and dishes were brought out at the perfect time between courses.
The Nice Guy Dubai is the spot for a chic, seductive late-night vibe in DIFC, with hearty, consistently delicious food, great cocktails, a buzzing bar and two distinct ‘moments’ to choose from – the dark and sultry indoor dining space or the more relaxed terrace. It gives fingers the chance to dress up, get a taste of LA’s dining scene and enjoy some of the city’s best vibes and views.