Quaintly cute Italian decor at this Mirdif City Centre restaurant
Al Forno, the new Italian eatery, is no different. On our visit, despite the handful of people scattered across the L-shaped interior, the vibe was far from bubbling. However, the layout means that rather than sitting in full view of the mall’s bright white walkways, guests can tuck themselves around the corner and lose themselves among the quaint faux-Italian furnishings. We took our seats alongside a (fake) exposed brick wall sporting a multitude of photos depicting iconic Italian landmarks – the decor was certainly clichéd, but it had charm, and we were further enamoured by the friendly, if slightly hapless, staff.
I asked one for a recommendation and he reeled off a list of dishes, though I soon realised that he was simply reciting the names of the dishes that appeared in photos on the menu. We decided instead to take our chances with the bruschetta di fungi. While the waiter may not have been an expert on the menu, he was quick to bring our starter, yet despite its timely arrival the bruschetta was disappointing: the dry baguette slices were topped with a rubbery, turgid mozzarella. It turned out that the bruschetta was a telling precursor of the rest of the meal.
For mains I ordered the Favorita pizza, which looked promising on paper – pepperoni, sun-dried tomato, black olives and a sprinkling of rosemary. What made it intriguing, however, was its potato topping. Potato on a pizza? Well, if you can put pineapple on a pizza, why not potato? Because it makes the whole thing too heavy, that’s why. What’s more, the potato had gone crispy in the wood-fired oven, meaning the pizza was rendered crunchy. Not only did this make for an odd sensation when biting into the dough, but it smothered the other components, so the concoction tasted of nothing but fried potato. My date’s lamb chops were equally disappointing – the accompanying potatoes were competently prepared, but ultimately the cutlets were thin, tough and offered little flavour.
If Al Forno’s food lived up to its warm, cosy interior, then maybe there would be another reason to visit Mirdif other than for the shops. But it will take plenty of fine tuning before we’re ready to make the trek again.
The bill (for two)
1x Bruschetta di funghi Dhs19
1x Grilled lamb chops Dhs76
1x Favorita pizza Dhs39
Total bill (excluding service) Dhs134 Al Forno
wayne Blankley Sep 29, 2013 02:33 pm
I have been going to Abu Dhabi mall for lunch on a daily basis for the past year and a half. I eat here roughly 4 to 5 times a week and have never been disappointed.
my meal starts off religiously with a Bisto salad (i have never had a more lush salad anywhere) and the pasta with a mix of red and white source. on a few occasions i have had the Pizza and not being a pizza fan i really enjoyed it. the pizza wasn't greasy as they usually are in Dubai and hit the spot.
the staff are great and friendly and it is a little pricy compared to rubbish like Pizza hut, but you pay for quality.
I will be eating here for years to come....
pierro May 01, 2013 10:42 am
Excellent Italian Trattoria, their Pizza are quiet unique and the service is very good. will definitely come back.
Patrick Feb 23, 2013 01:12 pm
Haven't tried their Pizzas yet, but main dishes were delicious, a very nice place with friendly staff.
Durteger Dec 29, 2012 04:53 pm
Ok first the good things: Nice Italian ambience, great decor, music, lots of space and comfy seating. Only visual thing that lets it down is the menu with pictures of Pizza etc. that give it a cheapo feel..
We came here for the 'Wood Fired' Pizza- having experienced Carluccio's, Pizaa 800, Pizza Express and Vapiano. Although the Gas oven does indeed use wood we didn't feel the benefit of it. The dough's texture was more like cardboard and frankly it was flavourless. Not sure how you can get something as basic as the dough wrong but but the proof is we ordered just two pizzas and left eating only one. If your looking for decent pizza this is not the place.
Good atmosphere let down by the food.
Manesh SS Jun 09, 2012 05:19 pm
Had Lunch in this restaurant.Very good ambiance and food was really great. We will definitively go back