Mohammad Orfali (middle)
Wassim and Omar Orfali
Double top: The Orfali brothers from Aleppo, Syria have created a genuinely unique dining experience in multi-cultural Dubai, guiding their unpretentious bistro to the top of the Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants ranking for the second consecutive year. Opened in 2021, the impact of Orfali Bros Bistro during its short lifetime to date cannot be underestimated.
Treble trouble: There are three brothers, all of them in the kitchen. Oldest brother Mohammad is the head chef, primary communicator and driving force in this family affair. An established TV cook and restaurant chef in the Middle East, he has taken ingredients, techniques, traditions and influences from across the world and used them to create his own take on Arabic cuisine. While Mohammad runs the savoury kitchen, two younger brothers, Wassim and Omar, hover one storey above in their own pastry world. Both are classic pâtissiers in the French mould, but with contrasting approaches, leading to a stellar selection of pastries, buns, éclairs and desserts that pepper the menu.
Singular menu: Anything goes, as long as the Orfali brothers love to eat it; they mix traditional Syrian stapes with pan-regional favourites, European culinary tropes with Asian ingredients to create a menu that defies categorisation. ‘Rules are meant to be bent and broken, with respect to our tradition’ is one of team’s mantras. Dishes might include the Orfali bayildi, featuring aubergine, makdous muhammara (walnut dip) and nasturtium; yum yam – Thai chopped salad with pomelo, peanuts and lemongrass, and the memorably named Come with me to Aleppo – essentially an Orfali take on a kebab with sour cherry, albeit featuring wagyu beef. The umami éclair blends the different chefs’ specialties, combining a porcini emulsion with Marmite, fermented quince and cacao nibs in a delicate bun.
Local heroes: This distinctive neighbourhood eatery in Dubai’s Wasl 51 neighbourhood comprises an open, casual space dominated by the two-storey kitchens overlooking diners. From here, through perseverance, brilliant storytelling and a blend of nostalgia and innovation, the Orfalis have captured the imagination of the local and international dining public.