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On The Menu: Marea

There’s nothing quite like breaking up the day with a business lunch, especially when it involves a seascape of high-end Italian cuisine.

When it comes to business lunches in Dubai, there is a veritable selection of enticing options, but nowhere quite does fancy lunchtime dining like DIFC. No matter the cuisine, there will be a restaurant to suit, at a competitive price point.

Marea, located in Gate Village 7, should require little to no introduction. The stylish restaurant gained a reputation as an admired dining destination in New York, before opening to high-acclaim in Dubai two years ago, going on to become a hallmark for Italian dining in the International Financial Centre.

Passing an Instagram worthy wall of verdant foliage and the Marea named emblazoned in neon yellow, we aren’t fully prepared for the sophisticated fit-out of the restaurant which boasts a neutral colour palette, and tables with impeccably pressed listen and glistening glassware. Upstairs you’ll find the dining room designed by architect Viktor Udzenija and featuring a mixture of comfortable leather couches and colourful artworks, but venture downstairs and into the lounge and you’ l discover an altogether different, intimate and more atmospheric space to dine.

Marea’s business lunch is reasonably priced at AED 120, inclusive of starter, main course and sorbet of the day and while many business lunch menus in Dubai limit diners to a handful of dishes, at Marea there are eight appetisers and nine main courses offered. All of which offer scaled back portions from the a la carte dinner service. With many of Marea’s signature dishes included, we are spoilt for choice with the likes of salmon carpaccio, calamari fritti and tricolorie caprese.

The name Marea translates as “tide” is Italian, so we’re happy to indulge in Executive Chef Yunus Emre Aydin’s seascape of high-end Italian cuisine focusing on the regional foods of Italy. Beginning with the signature polipo, it’s immediately evident as to why this octopus dish has resonated so much with diners in Dubai. A tender tendril is accompanied by fregola, apricots, black olive oil and pine nuts to harmonise both texture and flavour perfectly. Better yet is the lobster and burrata, which, despite incurring an additional charge due to the premium ingredients, brings a touch of luxury to the Italian cheese. The delicate nature of both the lobster and burrata complement each other remarkably, and the dish is enhanced further via the sparing use of pickled eggplant.

When it comes to the main courses, we once again opt for the signature dishes and cannot recommend the Garganelli enough. A luxurious and earthy mix of black trumpet mushrooms, black truffle and parmigiana bring a touch of decadence to the beautifully al dente pasta. For pasta aficionados, gnocchi, spaghetti, rigatoni and ravioli are also offered, alongside pollo, bistecca and sea bream.

We admit to venturing off the business lunch menu when it came to the final course and ordering dessert a la carte. The hazelnut is a gloriously decadent combination of caramelised hazelnut, mousse, praline and raspberry sorbet but the sfera is Marea’s ‘must order’ dessert. While Dubai’s obsession with melting chocolate spheres appears to know no bounds, the version at Marea is both restrained and exciting, featuring a marbles effect on the chocolate that seems like the surface of the planet Jupiter. Hidden away inside are vanilla gelato, chocolate cake and cherry jam which all work wonders with the hot chocolate sauce.

Service deserves a significant mention and each touchpoint throughout the Marea experience, from the hostess to the waiters and General Manager, Mehment Orhan, ensure that our dining experience is faultless and efficient.

Marea’s business lunch offering works as an efficient precursor in the decision as to whether or not to return for the fully-fledged a la carte experience. Teasing diners with beautifully plated Italian dishes anchored around premium ingredients. Marea in Dubai makes quite the impression in the saturated landscape of Italian dining in Dubai and well and truly lives up to the reputation of it’s Michelin starred counterpart in New York. 

GO: Call (0)4 583 6366 for reservations and more information.

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David Tapley - Editor-in-Chief
As editor-in-chief of the region’s most fiercely local lifestyle publication, David is a self-proclaimed hip-hop aficionado, championing all things food, travel, street art, and streetwear across the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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