Is it style over substance at this new alfresco eatery?

Even a seasoned Dubai resident can’t help but marvel at the Burj Al Arab. Its sail-shaped still-shiny-white façade rising grandly from the Arabian Gulf is one of those bucket list Dubai sights you simply can’t help but be blown away by. And few frame it better than Cala Vista, the newest addition to the Jumeirah dining portfolio located at Jumeirah Mina A’Salam.

Joining the ever-growing list of day-to-night beachside escapes in the city, Cala Vista operates as both a pool experience, where guests can soak up the sun on plush loungers covered with smart navy towels, grazing on a menu of Italian-inspired poolside eats; and a gorgeous, Italian restaurant. It’s the latter where we find ourselves on a chilly Saturday afternoon, picking out a table on the expansive terrace that best offers those aforementioned postcard-perfect Burj views. Although truthfully, there’s no bad seat in the house. It’s all outdoors, but there are split levels that create different areas: the bar and lounge is set just up from the pool, the majority of the restaurant dining space gazes towards the Burj and beach, then there’s another raised dining area, covered by a billowing canopy, where most guests are sheltering from the unpredictable February weather that flits between gale force winds and rays of sunshine on the day of our visit. But we layer ourselves in pashminas, are quickly surrounded by heaters, and stick to our guns on the edge of the terrace.

This isn’t toes-in-the-sand kind of dining, but the views of the golden Jumeirah shorefront make you feel like you can almost taste the sea as the waves crash onto the sand nearby. Instead, it feels like dining in a marvellous Italian garden, surrounded by lemon and olive trees, the floor tiled with geometric blue and white prints. To fully embrace La Dolce Vita theme, we order a refreshing Limoncello Spritz (Dhs85), that’s zesty and light, a homemade limoncello muddled with elderflower and prosecco, and slurp down a half dozen Gillardeau oysters (Dhs245), spiking each with a classic, tart shallot vinaigrette.

The menu isn’t particularly extensive, but there’s still plenty to choose from. The fritto misto (Dhs95) features lightly battered prawns, calamari and strings of carrot and potato, that adds welcome crunch, and we dunk each piece in the rich and creamy mayonnaise. The crudo di ricciola (Dhs80) is prettily plated, but the pieces of yellowtail are a bit chunkier than the thin slices we expect, and the tomato coulis does little for the flavour.

For mains, we keep it simple with a bowl of linguine alle vongole (Dhs120), with a solid ratio of clams to linguine ribbons, but lacking the seasoning to take this from good to great. The picante pizza (Dhs125) is a signature that fares much better; the dough is light and airy, the fior di latte has a creaminess to it we love, and the pieces of spicy salami pack a punch.

Dessert gets a theatrical upgrade when we order the lemon sorbet (Dhs65) which is served inside a fresh lemon, and constructed tableside with shavings of lemon cream that come from what look to be pebbles. We dive in with two spoons and finish it with gusto.

Verdict: Stylish surrounds and stunning views are the stars of the show at Cala Vista

Cala Vista, Jumeirah Mina A’Salam, Jumeirah, daily 12.30pm to 12am. Tel: (800) 323232. @calavistadubai