Piccolo Mondo Bay

Quirky cafe on the Dubai Marina Walk 10 Reviews

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Piccolo Mondo has long been a cult haven in International City. The place is blessed with an eccentric owner who has an eye for decorating, and the decor alone is utterly winning: the restaurant is crammed with sculptures, paintings and the odd nautical-themed bit of kitsch. The newly opened branch on Marina Walk is twice as inviting thanks to a cool patio complete with cushy chairs, romantic lighting, a prime view of the Marina and earthy ‘Girl from Ipanema’-type tunes. With a pool table inside, a mile-long shisha menu and a gorgeous selection of freshly squeezed juices, what’s not to love? Well…

There’s no question that when it comes to atmosphere, Piccolo Mondo Bay gets 10 out of 10. The food, alas, is a slightly different story. My date and I started with a strawberry salad. As is the case with everything on the menu, the portion was massive. The salad was far from inspiring, but it was passable. The strawberries were a day or two past ripe and therefore had a slightly boozy note (a hint that the fermentation process had started). There were also some out-of-season tomatoes, feta cheese and chopped romaine and, while the balsamic dressing was fairly standard, it could have used some extra seasoning. It didn’t exactly make us embrace our greens.

The mains were more problematic. After perusing the menu, which included everything from Indian curry to baba ganoush, I ordered a house special: jumbo shrimp sautéed with garlic, mushrooms and cauliflower. They were served in a bath of boiling butter on a huge cast-iron platter. Our seats were quite low to the floor and, as my towering waitress brought it over, I was nervous she might tip the scalding liquid onto my lap (luckily that particular catastrophe was avoided).

Eating food dunked in butter is never pleasant, especially when the butter is burnt – as a result, everything in the messily presented platter tasted bitter and charred. My date fared slightly better with his penne alfredo. Ordered precisely because it was a safe bet, the overcooked pasta drenched in a bland cream sauce didn’t actively offend – it just sat there, limp and tepid.

For dessert we shared a chocolate fondant, which was on the same level of mediocrity. The flat cake refused to ooze (making the term ‘fondant’ a bit of a misnomer). The average dessert came served with two scoops of frost-bitten ice cream, which my date and I didn’t bother to finish.

It’s safe to say that Piccolo Mondo Bay is not the ideal place to go for a dinner date. But though the food is decidedly sub-par, it’s an excellent hangout spot. The shisha is good – there are several flavours to choose from – and the juices are the one thing the kitchen seems to do exceedingly well. The view is unbeatable and the pool table gets a big thumbs up. The spot begs for a return visit. Just skip the food, and you’ll be set.

The bill (for two)
1x Four seasons juice Dhs29
1x Pineapple juice Dhs22
1x Strawberry salad Dhs35
1x Jumbo shrimps Dhs59
1x Penne alfredo Dhs50
1x Fondant cake Dhs39
Total (excluding service) Dhs234

By Daisy Carrington
Time Out Dubai,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.

Details

  • Location: Dubai Marina, Dubai
  • Tel: 04 447 5449
  • Travel: Al Sufouh Road
  • Website | Send mail

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User reviews

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  • Users voted this restaurant most suitable for: Family friendly

User reviews:

Posted by: rida on 04 Dec ' 12 at 09:47
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  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

what can i say, i keep trying and trying but service is the worse.... right now i am sitting there, place is empty and no body from waiters answers me... i asked for shisha charcoal 3 times before i stood up and screamed... it took them 15min to drink a bottle of water and that is while place is empty... waiters are never attentive of costumers as if we are an illusion in there heads.... service will come to you only after you beg for it, and get your blood pressure to the roof, and you are about to have a heart attack ..... i seriously do not recommend it fr anyone..... i rather go to a cheap please in satwa karama or even banyas street for surly i will get a better service there...

Posted by: Azhar on 07 Jun ' 12 at 10:57
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  • Best for: Romantic
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Piccolo Mondo Bay restaurant is to the Dubai gastronomic scene what Wonderland was to Alice: a fantasy world. The only difference in Piccolo Mondo’s case is that there are real tangible objects you can see and feel; no anthromorphic creatures around here. When you arrive and are shown to your table, before you get seated, make sure you take a good look at the peculiarities of all sort of different types of objects. Amazement galore!

I was lucky enough to have a tea and shisha with the owner, who is, one can say, part of the furniture and as eccentric as the decor. His character, history and most important his vision have been the drive behind this wonderful mondo (Italian for world). Even though it’s getting a bit hot these days in Dubai, we sat outside as every table has its own “atmosphere processing unit”, an air cooler to you and me! We reminisced about everything antique: from his endless trips to Portobello Road in Notting Hill, London UK to his boundless voyages to almost everywhere around the world. One of our friends who was with us at the table called Al-Obeidi “current-day Ibn Battuta!” And then we reflected on how truly piccolo (Italian for small) this world is.

I’ve just been on a short trip to Rome and couldn’t help but think that the restaurant has an Italian heritage. It’s not just the name, if you wander around you will see some of the ornaments boasting Roman in origin: nude statues, busts, even a three metre high temple pillar standing in its majestic height, and so on. But then you realise the place has much more to offer. What’s most striking, among the other astonishing surroundings, was a real full-size carriage which seemed to be in a working condition. It’s complete with its horse of which we only have a free standing head-and-neck white sculpture they’ve put it where it belongs: in front of the carriage as it’s a horse-drawn one!

The owner is an art collector or even an artoholic to use Charles Saatchi’s coined term. He set himself on his own journey of a lifetime: to everywhere. He has always been fascinated by beauty and how art can present it for our senses to appreciate. Piccolo Mondo Bay restaurant is an undiscovered treasure trove: its eclectic taste not just for art but for food as well with its fusion cuisine is a welcome surprise amidst JBR Marina Walk eat-out options.

Posted by: Ahmed on 19 May ' 12 at 14:30
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  • Best for: Family friendly
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Posted by: aymar arnulf on 08 Apr ' 12 at 04:56
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  • Best for: Family friendly
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

yea man listen this place is the best for SHISHA ! the ambiance is great but better if u bring lots of friends... the service kinda sucks depends on the day ! BEST OF ALL , THE OWNER IS IRAKI LIKE ME ! the food is not that good and wayy too expensive. i go there evry weekend

Posted by: Vibha on 13 Nov ' 11 at 09:24
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  • Best for: Romantic
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

This place is absolutely beautiful. Nice ambience too but the service is really bad. They never changed the coal even after I told 5 waiters and made me wait atleast 45 minutes for that. Plus the food we ordered (Pizza) was pretty avarage.
It was really annoying. It would be one of the best place in marina if they could improve their food quality and service.

Posted by: Raghda on 27 Oct ' 11 at 07:34
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  • Best for: Family friendly
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Posted by: leonardo and vanessa on 27 Nov ' 10 at 14:25
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  • Best for: Romantic
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

EXCELLENT SHI SHA....COULD BE RATED AS ONE OF THE TOP 3 IN DUBAI.....GOOD TO WATCH THE FOOTBALL IN THE OPEN AIR OVERLOOKING THE MARINA. DONT GO THERE HUNGRY HOPING FOR A GOOD MEAL THOUGH....WHEN IT COMES TO SERVICE,THE STAFF THOUGH OFTEN SLEEPING ARE POLITE WHEN THEY FINALLY GET TO YOU. :))))))) BUT THE AMBIENCE MAKES UP FOR IT....HIGHLY RECCOMENDED

Posted by: Rhiannon Downie on 26 May ' 10 at 13:35
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  • Best for: Family friendly
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Being a long term loyal customer of Piccolo's back in the day when I lived in International city, I had to try out the Marina venue. Zaki, the owner has certainly upped the anti! Very impressed, I love, love, love it. I have always said, Piccolo's is the type of place I go to chill, have a shisha, coffee and maybe a milkshake! I have to agree that the food is less then desirable and service could always improve from the waiters, not Zaki himself! - If the food improved and the waiters paid more attention, then this place would be buzzing 24/7! But I go there, to chill, drink coffee and smoke shisa, not to fine dine! - I love the decor, the music and the genral vibe, perfect to relax after a hard days work!

Posted by: Gavtek on 21 May ' 10 at 08:31
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  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

A chicken caesar salad whose main ingredient was cucumber was a new one on me. The caesar dressing appeared to be mayo also. Far from pleasant. The strawberry milkshake appeared to be those Crusha syrup mix things you used to get as a kid. The bill coming to not far off 70 Dhs for those 2 items was a bit too much too. The music was a bit lous and intrusive for a lazy afternoon in the sun. Hopefully they can improve, the location and theme has so much potential.

Posted by: Old Town Matt on 16 May ' 10 at 14:24
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  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

Totally agree.

Food and service are dreadful.

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Close X The Holy Month of Ramadan started on Sunday, June 29 and will last for one month. During this time live music and DJ sets will stop and opening hours may change at all venues. Please call ahead to confirm details with the outlet.