Brunch review: Notte evening brunch at Mare by Bussola
A sophisticated evening brunch with seaside Italian style…
Bussola sits in an elite group of Dubai restaurants that is still as popular now as it was when it opened almost two decades ago. In 2022, the casual-chic Italian eatery at The Westin Mina Seyahi added a seaside inspired sister restaurant, Mare by Bussola; a more upscale, adults-only iteration of the original, with a private pool and a focus on coastal Mediterranean cuisine.
It’s here we find ourselves on a Friday night for Notte, the restaurant’s new evening brunch. By 7pm, when brunch begins, the temperature has dipped to within the perfect degree for alfresco dining. But rather than being seated right away, guests gather for an hour aperitivo on the lawn. Here, canapés of neat tartlets; and focaccia topped with creamy buffalo mozzarella, pesto and dried tomato are plentifully passed around. A chef shucking oysters wanders between groups, preparing Gillardeau oysters while guests catch up over glasses of bubbles, which are never far from full thanks to a Fiat boot full of Prosecco bottles on ice. It’s a lovely way to wind guests into the weekend, Italian style.
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When we move to our table at 8pm, the format of the remaining courses is explained: sharing starters, a choice from three pre-main courses, a sharing plate for the main event, and a board of desserts. The starter selection is an extensive showcase of raw seafood. Our favourites are the red prawn pizza non pizza, with raw prawn mixed with tomato pulp, stracciatella cheese and oregano topped with light crisp bread; and the diced Hokkaido scallop ceviche dotted with avocado cream and topped with caviar. The next course, a red prawn and burrata tortellini, is al dente pasta packed with light burrata and a hint of red prawn covered in a subtle yet tasty lobster sauce.
The only disappointment comes with mains. Il mare in un piatto, a board where pieces of turbot, mackerel, red mullet, cuttlefish, octopus, and red prawn are laid out, misses the mark on presentation. The pieces of turbot and mullet lack flavour, and while we enjoy the prawns, there’s only enough for one each. We enjoy other bits, like the tender octopus and cuttlefish, especially with a bowl of fresh seasonal vegetables.
Desserts fare much better, a sweet array of Italian signatures laid out on a wooden board. The tiramisu is the just-right balance of coffee, cream, and soft sponge; a zesty lemon tart is topped with an air-whipped meringue; and the classic Italian cannoli is crunchy and buttery.
A special mention should be given to the impressive array of cocktails that are swiftly served until brunch ends at 10pm. A fruity passionfruit martini, refreshing frozen bellini and others are available on tap alongside all the house classics.
What’s On Verdict: For a chilled-out catch up, this is a stunning slice of coastal Italy.
Notte by Mare, Mare by Bussola, 7pm to 10pm, Fridays, Dhs395 soft, Dhs475 house. Tel: (0)56 994 7429. bussoladubai.com/mare