Toro, the Spanish restaurant from Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette, has gone global. Since debuting in Boston in 2005, Toro opened outposts in New York in 2013, Bangkok in 2016, and just last week, Dubai. “[In Dubai] there are people from every part of the world. We love that culture about parts of Boston, New York, Spain,” Bissonnette says. “So it just seemed like kind of a no brainer.”
The new Toro is located in City Walk, a massive new shopping and dining complex. And like the restaurants before it, Toro Dubai will have a menu suited to its unique location. “When we opened Toro in New York we talked about how much fun it is to open in different cities, because they take on local culture and local food.”
In Dubai, adapting to the local culture means, among other things, eliminating pork from the menu. In its place, the restaurant has halal beef charcuterie from Spain, a “ridiculously delicious” ingredient Bissonnette says he “didn’t even know existed.” Bissonnette also notes that Toro Dubai head chef Oscar Poquet Bigorda, who has lived in the city for eight years and has worked in Spanish restaurants there, will incorporate both Spanish and Emirati flavors into Toro’s tapas.
Bissonnette is eager to see how Toro Dubai will fit into a city with a late night culture that, to the chef and restaurateur, is reminiscent of Spain, the place that first inspired Toro. Because bars are only legal in specific locations in Dubai (drinking alcohol is illegal for Muslims in the UAE), “you can walk into a bar with 300 people and everybody is just there enjoying themselves in a super fun way,” Bissonnette says. “And with our bar on the second floor, hopefully we’ll be able to embody that.”
Now that Bissonnette and Oringer have four Toro locations, plus Boston restaurant Little Donkey in their portfolio, they’ll be traveling for work quite a bit. But, they agree, having four Toros doesn’t feel that different from having one. Bissonnette says he recently asked Oringer, “Does it seem weird that we have restaurants in other places?” His partner replied, “Nah, it’s just us doing more restaurants.’”
Take a look at what’s on the menu at Toro Dubai below: