Cool and casual dining at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr…

If you were a fan of the magical outdoor deck at Frankie’s, then you just might lament how Marco’s New York Italian has been designed.

That’s because Marco Pierre White’s latest iteration at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr no longer has an outdoor area. Fear not, however, because this new eatery, inspired by White’s Italian roots and love of the city that never sleeps, is so cosy and buzzy, elegant and casual. And, of course so delicious, that you don’t want to miss it.

The Abu Dhabi version is a first for the Middle East, joining other established locations including Brentwood, California and London Bridge. The interior is chic: monochrome triangles, framed black and white photos and neutral sofas are offset by pops of colour from green plant walls and butter yellow chairs.

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The offerings are a pleasing mix of pastas, fish dishes, steak and burgers. An open wood-fired oven area provides a focal point, as does the adjacent baby grand piano. There is a magnificent bar, perfect for secretive late-night chats, with an excellent drink selection and experienced barmen.

And the food? We recommend it — and for the most part, it’s actually better than Frankie’s ever was. The Boston chili crab cake (Dhs90) is thick, meaty and substantial, with a perfectly crispy crust and a side of delicately dressed rocket. Vegetarians might get excited by the carpaccio of beetroot and goat’s cheese salad (Dhs65) but we did not: the candied walnuts and grape dressing failed to elevate dreary slices of beet.

There is a lot to love on the mains, however. Keto and paleo eaters often find Italian eateries a fail, but the oven baked black cod (Dhs165) is a true winner: the cod is flaky and moist, surrounded by a rich mix of organic tomatoes, capers and Mediterranean olives. There are eight sourdough pizzas on offer — and we are going back for each one of them after a tester at the grand opening — but we steered to the mac and cheese al funghi, a vegetarian dish elevated by grilled wild mushrooms and Italian hard cheese (Dhs90). It was a homey, belly-hugging dish.

There is a solid warm chocolate brownie topped with ice cream and hot chocolate sauce (Dhs55) and a very good baked New York cheesecake, with blueberry compote (Dhs55) — a welcome addition to the dessert scene. Good cheesecake is still hard to find in the UAE.

Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi. Daily noon to 3pm and 6pm to 11pm. Tel: (02) 654 3333.