Mercato Mall branch of the Dubai-wide eating out chain 3 Reviews
Bella Donna certainly seems more Italian than the rest of Mercato Mall. Meander over the bridges and past the fake pastel facades and to the restaurant. The sudden expanse of cream, black and chrome, fashionably angular furniture and pleasant outdoor terrace wouldn’t look out of place in Milan; sadly, while the surroundings may be stylish, the food is standard at best.
Even after a few hours’ hard shopping, it’s not worth filling up on the bruschetta, which is just tomato chunks on toast, lacking any of the oil or fresh basil needed to bring it alive. Dive instead straight into the carbohydrate fiesta that is the main course menu. The pasta seems to have lingered in the pan a little longer than it should have, so the chic white bowls of spaghetti and penne are no longer as toothsomely al dente as we would like. Rich sauces are generously endowed with cheese and cream, but overall a shortage of seasoning or fresh herbs leaves the dishes a little bland and it’s a feat to get through a whole portion. The pizzas are better with thin, crispy bases, fresh toppings and gloriously gooey cheese, but even they are searching for stronger, fuller flavours.
Among the desserts, the strawberry tart is an indulgent, syrupy patisserie-style affair, but if you’re just looking for an energy boost before a cinema trip or another onslaught on the shops, stick to a fresh smoothie – the berry affair is a wonderful purple concoction that manages to be fruity and creamy without being over-sweet. Or lose yourself in the coffee menu, which comes from the linked branch of Second Cup next door and includes every variety imaginable, including an excellent, seriously dark ‘house’ roast.
Bella Donna is an attractive and reasonably priced stop-off but not worth a special visit in its own right.
By TimeOut Dubai Staff
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