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Marea Dubai review

Words by Nathan Irvine

Your new favourite dining spot in DIFC.

It’s a brave decision to launch a new restaurant in the fine dining hub that is DIFC. With the likes of Mina Brasserie, Gaucho and Zuma well established in the area, you need a touch of magic to attract the crowds. And judging by our recent visit, it seems Marea has the sparkle to go the distance.

The original Michelin-starred Italian restaurant has been pulling in the punters for well over a decade in New York. Celebrity clients at the Central Park original include Jay-Z, Beyoncé and former US president Barack Obama. Yes, it’s that popular.

Continuing the greatness of Marea in Dubai is the menu created by the flagship venue’s head chef, Michael White. It’s a mix of traditional Italian dishes that’s held together with Marea’s signature seafood creations. One of which is its famous Astice starter.

It’s a delicately prepared serving of succulent lobster on a bed of creamy burrata, pickled eggplant and basil. The combination of flavours on each forkful is outstanding and kicks off our meal superbly.

In Pictures. Marea food

Photos. Courtesy of Marea

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A fine selection of fresh oysters.

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A fine selection of fresh oysters.

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A fine selection of fresh oysters.

Marea Dubai's interior in daylight.

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Grilled octopus with apricot.

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Grilled octopus with apricot.

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Penne pasta with veal ham.

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Braised lamb.

Chef Michael White.

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Marea Chef Michael White, the brains behind the restaurant's menu.

Main events

With the mains, we wanted to see how Marea coped outside of its seafood specialities. We ordered the ricotta-filled Pansotti with nettle and basil pesto and Bistecca – wagyu sirloin.

Both are excellent choices. We’re particularly impressed with the Pansotti, a simple dish, but one that Italian restaurants often struggle to deliver perfectly. There are no such problems at Marea. The bright green bowl of expertly cooked pasta parcels delivers a treat for the palate.

Our medium-rare Bistecca comes pre-sliced with barely any fat in sight. What we’re left with is deliciously moreish bite-sized pieces meaty goodness. So good, in fact, that you might want to opt for the sharing portions because if you’re eating with others, they’re definitely going to want some.

A word of warning ahead of your visit though: the side dishes are huge. They’re dished up in portions sizes that are typical with Italian hospitality. We felt bad about how many buttery mushrooms we had leftover. Our advice is to arrive hungry.

We bookended the meal with a Cioccolato and tiramisu. If you’re familiar with the latter, you’ll still be impressed with the soft sponge and coffee concoction that Marea create. The Cioccolato – a house special – that consists of a variety of chocolate types made into a sweet globe of deliciousness. The vanilla ice cream it comes with, just takes the edge off the richness of the chocolate. It’s a delight.

Marea’s name seems to have spread quickly as the place was packed on the Thursday night we visited. And rightly so. With delectable food, friendly staff and a lounge area to carry the party on into the small hours, Marea is already making a play for the best restaurant in DIFC.

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