A hidden gem that Jumeirah Islands residents won’t want you finding out about…

When we first explored the newly reopened Jumeirah Islands Clubhouse, we were taken aback. What was once an outdated pool bar has morphed into a modern leisure complex.

The new and improved destination still has stunning lake views and a large swimming pool, but now additional dining options. Isola Ristorante is the first concept we’ve tried since its opening last month.

The restaurant is accompanied by two chic outdoor areas, but with the humidity rising, we opt for a table indoors. We’re not disappointed though, as the bright, open plan space is more than inviting.

With a huge olive tree taking centre stage, elements of nature are injected throughout the space. Despite having an early dinner reservation, the restaurant is already packed – presumably the Jumeirah Islands residents scoping out their new digs.

Service is swift and effortless, with menus and water on our table before we’ve even settled into our seats. The two-page menu offers a selection of simple Mediterranean dishes, which we do hope will expand into a more exciting offering as time goes on.

We start off with a tartare di tonno con avocado (Dhs70), a well presented plate of fresh raw tuna chunks resting on a bed of avocado puree. Contrasting this light option, we’re also drawn to la parmigiana di melanzane (Dhs75). Possibly too heavy a choice when we knew we had pasta coming, but the bubbling al forno cheese and comforting aubergine strips were too tempting to resist.

If you’re looking for a neighbourhood spot with plenty of atmosphere, this is where to find it. The room becomes so abuzz with conversation, we have to step outside to have a proper chat. Our helpful waiter is more than happy to assist with taking the drinks out and lets us know as soon as the mains have arrived.

We decided to try the penne strascicate (Dhs55), a huge portion of Bolognese pasta with a warming, creamy texture. While a simple dish, it ticked the boxes.

To finish off, we couldn’t miss the chance to try Isola’s tortino al cioccolato (Dhs40), a decadent chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream and oozing hazelnut centre. The cake is soft and light, and instantly melts in the mouth.

Not everywhere in Dubai needs to have outrageous dishes with deconstructed ingredients. Sometimes all you need is wholesome value-for-money food, great atmosphere and warm service – which is exactly what Isola Ristorante provides (just don’t tell the Jumeirah Islands residents that we told you so).

Isola Ristorante, Jumeirah Islands Clubhouse, Jumeirah Islands, daily 8am to 11pm. Tel: (0)4 583 3124. @isolarestaurantdubai