Caffè Via

Caffé Via apparently means ‘street-side café’ in Italian. So as you might expect, this new venue features outdoor seating close to the pavement on the ground floor of JBR’s Ocean View Hotel. While it’s a cosy corner, the ambience is slightly spoiled by passing cement mixers. The inside seating is a much better bet, with a clean, modern look, cosy chairs and a counter displaying pizza by the slice (one of the venue’s signatures) and plenty of patisserie options. There weren’t many slices (or varieties) of pizza left when we visited, although we later saw the display being restocked. We opted for a four-seasons slice, which was topped with a forest of roasted vegetables and re-heated in the oven. It didn’t really look or taste like classic Italian pizza – it was more like a cheesy foccacia open sandwich – but it was very enjoyable, with a doughy, buttery base, plenty of cheese and a nice selection of lightly roasted and subtly dressed vegetables, including courgette and asparagus. The menu offered a manageable selection of soups, salads and pasta dishes: for the latter, guests could choose their own variety of pasta from penne, farfalle, spaghetti and pappardelle. We opted for the fresh bulgur salad and the primavera pasta with penne. The food took quite some time to arrive, but once it did, the salad looked too small for a main course, although it was colourful and elegant. It was a fragrant and revitalising tabbouleh-like mix of bulgur wheat, cubed tomato, onion and plenty of parsley, alongside lots of crisp salad leaves and light yet creamy cucumber labneh dressing. The menu had said the salad was served with warm aubergine, although it was in fact stuffed into half a cold roasted aubergine. But that didn’t matter, because my friend was munching away happily. Meanwhile, the penne primavera had a good flavour of pine nuts and pesto, but the disparity in temperature between the vegetables and the pasta suggested it had been in a microwave. Moreover, the pasta itself was chewy and glutinous, and had begun to disintegrate in a manner that suggests reheating over a longer period of time. It seems this café’s primary selling point is the fact it is open 24 hours, making it a convenient spot if you’re staying in the hotel. The bill (for two) 1x pizza slice Dhs25 1x bulgur salad Dhs38 1x penne primavera Dhs50 1x fresh berry tart Dhs27 1x large water Dhs14 1x coffee Dhs16 Total (including service) Dhs170

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