Lounge Café Italiano

As the name pretty succinctly spells out, Lounge Café Italiano is a new casual dining café with an Italian concept. Located within Dubai Media City between the hordes of office workers and students in the area, the eatery sits directly opposite the American University of Dubai. Considering this prime location and the café’s caché as the newest kid on the block, it’s perhaps no surprise to find Lounge Café Italiano buzzing with diners. Inside, amid the ambience of a bustling bistro, is a simple but attractive venue decorated in natural wood and dark leather. Acting as a centre-piece is a tree-like installation that looks as if it has been made out of Jenga blocks, which swirls and spirals from floor to ceiling. Diners can sit on transparent plastic chairs, designed like iconic Philippe Starck originals, or opt for cosier looking leather sofas towards the back. On the walls are pop-art-style pieces depicting Italian icons such as Sophia Loren, and if that is not enough to keep your eyes entertained, there’s also an open kitchen counter. Service was pretty efficient and friendly enough when we visited, but it lacked a little warmth. During a reasonably busy service, it certainly felt as if staff were working towards getting the basics of the job done under pressure. But in their defence they achieve this and the food arrives quickly. There is also some pleasing attention to detail, in that butter as well as oil and vinegar are served with the bread basket. On the menu you’ll find a smattering of pretty recognisable Italian classics (with the occasion creative curve ball), with starter and main course plates, as well as salads, pasta and pizzas. We ordered the red radicchio leaves with pears and pecorino cheese, which was sadly not as appetising as it sounded. The presentation with the body of the salad served inside a cup of leaves looked dated, even if the plate was colourful. There was no obvious evidence of the pecorino cheese, and the combination, although mixed with chunks of yellow and red bell peppers was ordinary, uninteresting in taste, and not far off the sort of clumsy salad you might knock up at home. In contrast, the bowl of fresh fettucine (made in-house) with porcini mushrooms and truffle oil was also simple and homely, but far more successfully so. The pasta tasted fresh and chewy, accompanied by plenty of buttery, squidgy porcini mushrooms and a cohesive (if not overwhelming) sense of truffle. While the pasta did not look like a generous portion for Dhs68, it was wholesome and satisfying. Lounge Café Italinano is a lively and attractive venue, but the food is not quite as impressive. Having said that, it is above average when it comes to convenient Italian lunchtime options. The bill (for one) 1x radicchio salad Dhs52 1x fettucine porcini Dhs68 1x soft drink Dhs18 Total (excluding service) Dhs138

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