The food is prepared by Italian chefs using authentic Italian ingredients…

Bur Dubai is filled with a plethora of restaurants serving up a range of cuisines including Indian, Pakistani, Arabic and much more. However, the one cuisine missing from the expansive list is Italian (barring, of course, the vast pizza fast-food chains available).

So, when we received an invite to try out Mercato Centrale, a new Italian eatery in Old Dubai, we enthusiastically accepted.

Located on the ground floor of Bur Jurman, the restaurant offers a choice of seating next to the mall’s indoor fountain, or inside next to the open kitchen. We picked the latter as while the calming fountain ambience was tempting, the inside of the eatery looked like a restaurant scene right out of the streets of Italy, with casual vibes and traditional music.

We were warmly greeted by the staff and handed a menu after the waitress sanitised our table. After scanning the menu, we opted for the ‘4 semi’ (Dhs50 large portion) – a refreshingly light salad that included kale, spinach, orange, avocado, pumpkin seeds, mixed nuts and lettuce, topped with a sweet agave dressing.

Next up was panzerotti (a small savoury calzone). We selected the ‘hunter’ variant (Dhs26) and our deep-fried pockets of pizza dough came stuffed with mozzarella, parmesan, truffle and mushrooms. The shell had just the right amount of thickness and crunch to hold the delicious goodness inside.

mercato centrale

We were told every dish was made from scratch, including the pasta and doughs. Being massive pizza fans, we didn’t require further convincing. We picked the diavola pizza (Dhs46) with spicy beef salami, and the puttanesca (Dhs50 for large) with tomato sauce, black olives, anchovies, capers and fresh oregano, both of which were huge hits with my dining companions.

The anchovies on the puttanesca were a bit too salty for my palate, but my favourite was the pollo alla romana (Dhs50), topped with spicy chicken, mozzarella, bell pepper and onion.

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We were slightly worried that we over-ordered on the pizza front, but thanks to the light, authentic Italian ingredients used, we were able to power on.

For pasta, we decided to go with the ravioli (Dhs52 for large), which came stuffed with tomato, basil and a delicious mozzarella cream we couldn’t get enough of. Saving the best for last, the homemade tortellini (Dhs52 for large) was filled with the perfect mix of ricotta, spinach, veal ham and parmesan sauce – an absolute win.

mercato centrale dessert

For dessert, we tucked into a wicked chocolate mousse, a delicate fruit tart, and zeppola (an Italian version of a doughnut filled with custard cream and a cherry). The best news, the desserts are available in mini versions, so you can savour them without feeling too guilty.

Mercato Centrale, ground floor in Bur Juman, Khalid Bin Al Waleed Rd, Dubai. Tel: (0)4 320 5207.

Images: Mercato Centrale