The Shortlist

Jamie’s Italian, Festival City
Nominated for Best Family

Before you even step through the door, the hype around celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s only Dubai restaurant sets almost unrealistic expectations. The menu also doesn’t help, with names such as ‘World’s Best Olives On Ice’ and ‘My Amazing Chicken Salad’ adding to the belief that this is going to be something extra special. And while the food is good and hearty, with the occasional standout, it falls short of being exceptional. The fried three-cheese gnocchi starter with a spicy arrabbiata dip is perfect; the crunchy texture, mature cheeses and slight kick from the sauce make for a moreish delight. But the main courses are a bit bland. The pappardelle and meatballs in a tomato and basil sauce is a slightly stodgy and unadventurous dish, while the aforementioned ‘amazing chicken salad’ lacks the flavour to make it last long in the memory. As an occasion, though, Jamie’s Italian still delivers. Staff are welcoming and attentive, and the loft-style decor and bench seating are ideal for a relaxed night out with friends.
Open Sat-Wed noon-11pm, Thu-Fri noon-midnight. Marina Promenade, Dubai Festival City, (04 232 9969).

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