Orfali Bros. Bistro is a household name for the residents of Dubai and it is one of the most popular restaurants in the UAE. Recently, it has been ranked as the Best Restaurant in 2023 in the Middle East and North African Regions (MENA) according to the World’s 50 Best Organizations sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna. The restaurant was started by three Syrian brothers, Mohammad, Wassim, and Omar in 2021 after facing many hardships.
Orfali Bros. Bistro is the perfect combination of community-based cuisine that adds an international flavor to resonate with Dubai’s Global culture. Mohammad, who is the eldest brother and the head chef, was in a state of disbelief when the results were announced and he said that it was a great challenge opening a restaurant during the Covid time.
Top Restaurant In the Middle East
In 2022, the restaurant managed to secure a sixth position among the MENA rankings and now this year shot straight up to the first position, a rather remarkable achievement for the three brothers who always dreamed of working together.
The restaurant started off with just the three brothers but now it’s a happy family of 44 employees. It was the brainchild of Mohammad and he is in charge of creating mesmerizing menus while his two brothers carefully curate an interesting collection of desserts. The unflinching effort put by the brothers into each dish is reflected through the collection of dishes available at the restaurant that takes inspiration from all around the world.
The story of the restaurant also tells the story of their own lives that starts from war-torn Syria to them starting a new life in Dubai. One of the most attractive and best-selling desserts of the Orfali Bros. is the corn bomb, a soft crust topped with 36-month-aged Parmigiano Reggiano.
The Orfali Bros. were the first ones to introduce the concept of Dubai Cuisine, a rich and handpicked cuisine that truly represents the multicultural spirit of the city. Mohammad said that he is ever grateful to Dubai and its residents for putting their endearing trust and love towards his restaurant.
He also stated that the Emirate city was never afraid to try out new stuff whenever he and his brothers decided to push the boundaries of culinary delicacies. The menu at Orfali Bros. Bistro is a combination of middle-eastern themed dishes that traces to the roots of the brothers’ Aleppian origins and also with the inclusion of various dishes from around the world that reflects the multi-cultural spirit of Dubai city.
One of the aspects that makes the Orfali different from other restaurants in the area is that they have a spirit of gastronomic adventure that takes them through the culinary experiences of different cultures while staying true to their own roots. For them, it was never about reaching the topmost position but it was about having fun while also being able to serve the people of Dubai some tasty and unique delicacies.
Mohammad recalls how his mother was against the idea of him pursuing a career as a Chef because the profession was looked down upon in Middle East culture but his love for French cuisine made him travel to France to study the cuisine.
As time passed, he realized that he had to go back to his own origins, into the Syrian and aleppian culinary traditions so that he could keep the culinary culture alive and at the same time share with a global community like in Dubai. Mohammad Orfali later worked in the Television scene for some years and then decided that he should up the game by starting an open restaurant in Dubai.
The task at hand was huge and the investment needed didn’t fall through for a brief period the dream of a restaurant seemed bleak. But with the congregated efforts of the employees and the brothers, they were able to set up their dream in 2021.
Following the first position by Orfali Bros, the second rank in the MENA region was procured by Tresind Studio, an Indian restaurant in Dubai run by Chef Himanshu Saini and the third-ranking went to Fusions by Tala, a restaurant in Manama.
The voting process for selecting the 50 best restaurants in the MENA region is done by selecting an academy of 250 voters from 19 countries. Each of these voters would select seven of their favorite restaurants that they had experienced in the past eighteen months and the voting process is carried out with complete confidentiality.
The functions which were hosted with the support of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism also honored several chefs and culinary personalities.
The Best Pastry Chef 2023 of MENA was given to Karim Bourgi while the Estrella Damm N.A.Chefs’ Choice Award 2023 was awarded to the renowned Egyptian chef and culinary educator Moustafa Elrefaey. The Sustainable Restaurant Award 2023 which was sponsored by Arlo Pro was won by OCD Restaurant located in Tel Aviv.