When Julius Caesar crossed the River Rubicon back in the day it was a deliberate act of war. The die was cast and the toga wearing leader and his army took on the Cisalpine Gauls. As everyone now knows, Caesar et al came out on top. And the rest, as they say, is history. For my dining partner and I, opting to dine at Casa Mia represented a similar situation. Sure, leaving the cool, calm lobby of Le Méridien Dubai wasn’t quite as onerous a task as, say, expanding an empire. But, by the time we had skirted the hotel’s manicured lawns, teetered on the edge of two tourist-infested pools, ducked for cover while passing the tennis courts, and avoided the nail guns as we manoeuvred our way around the renovations, all in the heat and humidity, retreat was unthinkable.
The staff at Casa Mia, seeing our war-weary faces, immediately took pity on us, sitting us down, procuring our orders with a flourish and promptly bringing our starters. My ricotta salad, a munificent mix of rocket leaves, creamy ricotta squares, and sliced tomato, was delicately dressed and more than enough to take the edge off my hunger. Across the table, my fellow foot soldier was slurping his way through a bowlful of mussels, pinching each mollusc from its shell and sliding it gleefully down his throat in a wash of rich tomato sauce.
When our mains arrived, it appeared that the kitchen had been prepped and was ready to feed an army. The portions, my prime rib steak and his rolled pork fillet, were gigantic and wholesome. My beef was seared to perfection, and the accompanying sautéed potatoes and bitey rocket and parmesan salad were hearty, though way too much for a wee combatant like me. The burly warrior across the table, however, made light work of his cylinder of moist pork fillet, which had been sparingly rolled with spinach and bacon, and served atop a higgledy-piggledy mass of beans in a rich tomato sauce.
It was time for dessert, though it appeared that a General and a Lieutenant or two had arrived for their evening repast, relegating us centurions to a lower priority on the service pecking order. Unfortunately, in the 20 minutes that it took for our desserts to arrive, we used the time to take a look around the restaurant. The walls are covered with poorly painted scenes of Venice and Carnavale, the most disturbing of which was of a masked reveller who looked like he had taken his inspiration from Ziggy Stardust and an ostrich that had just spotted a lion lurking in the grass. Thankfully, the desserts were delicious enough to temporarily banish the images from our minds. My two rolls of traditional cannoli, a crispy pastry stuffed with nuts, dried fruit and chocolate, were smashed up and demolished, while opposite me several luxurious dollops of crème brulee magically disappeared to the sound of many satisfied sighs.
Casa Mia remains a great place to have a traditional Italian meal, as long as you can summon the courage to take on the obstacle course to get there in the current heat and humidity. And it’s a good thing too because, much like Caesar, once you’re committed to act (or eat in this case), turning back is not really an option.
The bill (for two)
Ricotta salad Dhs19
Sauteed mussels Dhs50
Pork fillet Dhs88
Prime rib steak Dhs128
Crème Brulee Dhs31
Total (excluding service) 345