La Cucina
4.4

La Cucina
According to the Facebook page (there isn’t a website, as of now), the restaurant is “your new favourite destination for authentic Italian food.”  With a menu spanning many Italian delicacies, everyone should be able to find something they can enjoy. 

Reservations
Reservations can be made via phone, 04 568 2105.  As per our experience, walk-in customers are more than welcome. 

Parking
Regular visitors will know that parking at Club Vista Mare can get a bit hectic (especially on weekend nights).  We opt for a ride-sharing app, however, there is public parking for all outlets behind the restaurants and valet available. 

Greeting and Seating
Like many of the Club Vista Mare restaurants, the interior space of La Cucina is massive.  The fit-out is appropriately casual, in line with the theme of the restaurant. We like the open wood fire kitchen, as well as the generous bar area.  Also like their neighbors, La Cucina is home to an ample amount of patio seating, and we appreciate the comfortable outdoor furniture (complete with shade).  During cooler months, the tables overlooking the water will no doubt be the most in-demand and are worth reserving in advance. After being warmly greeted, we choose a table just outside on the patio, perfect for people watching.  

Service
Given the ratio of servers to patrons the evening of our visit, we’ve very attentively looked after.  In fact, when my dining partner stepped away to make a phone call, a small bug found its way into his glass.  Our server noticed immediately and volunteered to swap out the drink. Talk about attention to detail!

Our Order
In authentic Italian form, there are multiple courses to choose from, and we decide to try a little bit of everything.  Although we eye some of the traditional favorites, including Arancini and Calamari, we start with a Dubai classic, Burrata, 150g for AED72, and appreciate that there are different sized versions (for reference, the larger portion of 300g is AED140).  While the skin is a bit thicker than we like, overall, it’s a Burrata we would expect. On our way in, I noticed another table with a heaping order of Bruschetta and decide I also need to try this dish. I order the Bruschetta Al Carciofi, AED46, which is a twist on the regular preparation.  This bruschetta comes topped with creamy white beans, parmesan, and artichoke hearts. We love the crispy sourdough, and it’s an appetizer I would definitely order again. Rounding things out is an Italian take on a Spanish dish, what I know as Padron Peppers (and you might know as Shishito Peppers), but called Frigitelli, AED46, at La Cucina.  While listed as ‘spicy,’ we didn’t get a lot of heat in the dish. Overall, while we decide to crack a bit of salt on top, the peppers are cooked to perfection and disappear quickly.

As we had a busy weekend, carbs were high on our list, and my dining partner and I both decided to order separate plates of pasta, including a traditional Spaghetti Carbonara, AED108, and Orecchiette Al Pesto, AED92.  While these prices might sound a bit high, the serving sizes are very generous, such that two people (or more) would be able to enjoy a serving. While we might prefer a bit more sauce on the carbonara and slightly more seasoning on the orecchiette, overall, the pasta delivers as expected.  To round out the meal, under the ‘Carni’ section, we opt for an unbelievably tender order of Beef Cheeks, priced at a very reasonable AED126, which are served on a bed of polenta. As with the pasta, the beef is easily able to be shared (and we’re delighted when our server is happy to pack up our leftovers).  We’re too stuffed to consider dessert, but see familiar Italian favorites for anyone visiting with a sweet tooth.

Pacing
Our drinks and starters arrive quite quickly, and then our server asks if we would like to pause before our pasta and main course.  We’re always happy when service staff are amenable to patrons and appreciated the effort.

Ambiance
While we personally believe the venue is a bit oversized, Club Vista Mare is a comfortable spot for the weekend or with out of town guests, including four-legged friends. We also think the current soundtrack at the restaurant could use a bit of tweaking (perhaps we’re old fashioned, but we would love to see some Rat Pack or older Italian songs), however, overall, it’s a great place to watch the world go by.

Price
Given the competition and location, the prices seem completely in line with the market.  There are beverage specials, as well as pizza offers.

Overall, would you return?
While we usually prefer to make Italian food at home, if feeling like a lazy weekend dinner, La Cucina would be on our list.

Recommendations
All of our starters were worth ordering again, and we’re still regretting not ordering a pizza.

Disclaimer: MenuPages.ae was a guest of this establishment.