A fine seafood and Italian experience - BiCE Mare, Dubai

It is easy to fall in love with BiCE Mare, the Italian restaurant in Souk Al Bahar, Dubai. From the moment you arrive at the Souk, you cannot help feeling a  break from steel and glass, and appreciating the souk-like architecture.

It is easy to fall in love with the restaurant as you walk down the narrow corridor to the end where the restaurant awaits. Indeed, when you are seated inside and steal a quick glimpse of the view outside, it is so very easy to fall head over heels with BiCE Mare. 

With BiCE Mare known for its seafood, it makes sense to start with a seafood selection of raw delights. Restaurant manager Maurizio Piras immediately illustrates the indispensable value of a manager who is charismatic, magnetic and passionate. He strikes me as someone who would have anecdote after anecdote to share with his guests, as I watch him going over to  guests and making sincere chit chat. Old school Italian here. Food should be great, but hospitality should always eclipse it. 

I start my evening with a glass of Ferrari Brut NV, a sparkling wine which may not be as known in Abu Dhabi as in Dubai. This 100% Chardonnay sparkling wine places itself above a Valdo Prosecco but beneath a Ca del Bosco Franciacorta. It is intense on the nose but fresh at the same time. 

Meanwhile, my seafood starter platter scores high on presentation. I like the idea of a customised experience, and in this case, I am able to try a selection of some of BiCE's starters for a nominal price. The Salmon tartare is an immediate highlight. It has   a wonderful texture thanks to pomegranates and pine seeds. Also, the Tuna carpaccio pays homage to citrus, with fresh orange and orange peel  bringing a sweet-sour quality to the beautiful sashimi-like tuna. However, the accolade for finest starter goes to the Gambero Rosso di Mazara, Red Sicilian prawns, which are naturally tasty and juicy. Simple. A winner. 

Executive Chef Leonardo Maltese

Before my main course is served, I step onto a full terrace to experience one of the big attractions of the restaurants - the view of the Burj Khalifa and the dancing fountains. Mobile phones are out in force to capture the spectacle - quite breathtaking and mesmeric. 

For my main course, I opt for a tasting portion of the Lobster ravioli. This homemade ravioli dish speaks volumes of the sea with lobster, red prawns, scampi, clams and shrimp all making their way onto this dish. Executive Chef Leonardo Maltese cleverly uses rock lobster and blue lobster, resulting in a  slight variation in texture within the ravioli. Furthermore, his subtle use of lemon ensures that the lobster retains its integrity and is not overwhelmed. That is quite something considering how flavourful the sauce is. 

I am tempted to forego dessert because I really want the taste of that pasta to linger, but what is an evening in an Italian restaurant without a tiramisu? Angela, the patisserie chef, does the tiramisu justice. It is a classic tiramisu with the right balance of flavours and textures, although I must confess that I get a bit more of the coffee than I usually get, and I love it. Intense. Overall, it is textured, deliciously creamy and in a  word, decadent. 

As a special treat, she also presents a small platter of Mixed homemade desserts. There is something very authentic about an experience when  a pastry chef visits your table, and via a translator tells you about the dessert she has prepared. Her dessert reflects a charm and playfulness, no doubt reflective of her youthfulness. The latter is combined with some fabulous results - the cannoli's most essential element, the pastry, is light and fluffy. Her cheesecake, presented as a lollypop, encapsulates the youthfulness I referred to earlier. Why shouldn't we connect with our childhood at every possible moment? Finally, her Apple crumble-like offering has me in rapture because of apple done two ways, all brought together by mascarpone cream. 

Being based in Abu Dhabi and having tried the significant Italian restaurants in the city, I have a decent frame of reference, but as I finish my evening with an espresso, indulging in the visual spectacle as  a lighting show transforms the Burj Khalifa, I realise there is nothing like this in Abu Dhabi. This is true on so many fronts. Firstly, the food is everything and more you would want from a restaurant like this; food that reflects the standing of this restaurant. Secondly, the location is unmatched. There is a  temptation to gloss over food and focus on the amazing views, but I believe a good view is not enough to sustain a restaurant. However, the dishes and location here are equally worthy to be waxed lyrically about. Finally, the service is something that Italian restaurants in Abu Dhabi should strive towards. There is very little coddling of guests, meaning service is to the point and slick. 

The ultimate question is: as good as BiCE Mare is, is it worth getting into a car to drive to Dubai? worth fighting traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road? Absolutely yes! A succinct menu that is well executed, a  quality wine list, focused professional service and typical Italian hospitality makes this an experience worth fighting traffic as you make your way to Dubai. 

The Essentials

BiCE Mare
Souk Al Bahar, 
+971 4 4230982
BiCE Mare


Brandon Stoltenkamp
Disclaimer: I was invited to BiCE Mare as a guest of the restaurant.