When I received a dinner invite to try out BiCE Mare’s special truffle menu, I was over the moon! Who can resist truffles?!
Top that with renowned Italian Chef Leonardo Maltese acting as host and a beautifully chic venue boasting of Burj fountain views, my dinner date with BiCE Mare this week was nothing short of gastronomic brilliance.
BiCE Mare is located on the top floor of Souk Al Bahar. The restaurant is clean, sophisticated and brightly lit. With tables laid out in spotlessly white starched linen and smartly suited, well-versed staff on attendance, BiCE Mare offers Italian fine dining with panache.
We were greeted by Chef Leonardo himself. Born and raised on the picturesque Italian island of Ischia, Chef Leonardo’s love affair with food started at the tender age of 14 when he lent his hand at his family’s restaurant Ischia Porto.
After years of perfecting on his skills, Chef Leonardo went on a mission to share the Italian love for food with the rest of the world. For him, good food can only be created with the freshest and finest of ingredients, and what can be finer than Italian black truffles?
Costing approximately AED 15,000 (USD $4,084) per kilo, the black truffles used at BiCE Mare has to be the most prized ingredient in Chef Leonardo’s kitchen.
Just a lift of that glass jar, and you can get a beautiful, robust whiff of the truffles.
Chef Leonardo whipped up a 6-course meal for us. From classic to contemporary, each of his creations showcased his passion for his native flavor combinations.
Ironically, we started off with a dish sans truffles but didn’t miss it at all. We were served a beautifully flavorful ravioli that was stuffed with a fresh parmesan and smoked aubergine filling.
Chef Leonardo makes his ravioli from scratch. He makes it look so easy, with that gorgeous Italian accent. Just roll, pipe in that decadent cheese mix, pinch and cut!
A line of squid ink down the middle of the ravioli adds finesse to the completed look, and it was served on a shallow puddle of creamy, buttery sauce.
Next came a beautifully soft, wobbly scallop hidden under a pile of fresh, green herbs. This is the Capesante posciutto D’Oca con insalatina di pere (doesn’t it sound so much better in Italian?!).
The scallop has been enveloped in a delicate pear goose ham, and topped with a pea shoots salad. A generous shaving of very finely shaved black truffle completes the dish.
Burrata has to be Italy’s best loved cheese. I’ve had it on toast, as a main and even as a dessert. Here, Chef Leonardo presents it to us on a fresh slice of tomato with a dollop of ‘buffala’ mozzarella and cream. The dish is finished off with a fine drizzle of the Lorenzo No 5 olive oil.
This oil is as premium as it gets, and Chef Leonardo christens it the Chanel No 5 of olive oils. Lorenzo No 5 is an intensely golden oil with a distinctively creamy, delicately spicy aftertaste. A drizzle of this oil elevates Chef Leonardo’s burrata dish several notches up the fine-dining scale.
The next dish was the most talked out creation of the night. This was Chef Leonardo’s Risotto al Tartufo Invernale. Featuring Carnaroli rice, perfectly cooked al dente served in a sinfully rich Parmesan cream and a generous shaving of that divinely aromatic black truffle.
What’s the secret behind the ultra cheesy cream base? Chef Leonardo demonstrates by dunking the entire risotto into a mound of parmesan cheese and craping it all up for good measure! The last bowl of risotto in that parmesan bowl is the most coveted for after all, it would have seeped in more of that parmesan richness than the rest!
Next came a hearty steak of freshly grilled Turbot fish, aka Filletto di Rombo, verdurine corccanti, Tartufo invernale.
Served with pan-tossed artichokes, zucchini and strips of carrot and a generous slice of black truffle, the beauty of this dish lies in its simplicity. Chef Leonardo ensures every ingredient on the plate shines through with its very own characteristic flavors, and the resulting sum of it all blends beautifully on the palate.
Chef Leonardo’s Medaglioni di Wagyu con Porcini e Tartufo is a very satiating serving of grilled Wagyu medallion steak served with Italian Porcini mushrooms and black truffle.
Although I like my steaks leaning towards the ‘rare’ end of the spectrum, this dense, meaty ‘medium’ cooked Wagyu steak was very moreish and I feel guilty for not being able to do it justice. On the last leg of the six-course menu, I found myself to be rather full!
But as the Italians say, there is a second stomach dedicated to dessert! The mixed platter of desserts at BiCE Mare was simply divine. The platter included a crisp Canoli piped with flavored cream, a light, airy Tiramisu brimming with bold espresso notes, and a ‘chocolate lollipop’ that had a molten dark chocolate interior and melted in the mouth.
However, my favorite from the night was the Panna Cotta. Topped with a tangy berry sauce, the Panna Cotta was rich, creamy and very indulgent indeed.
Sitting through this gastronomic meal amid the very entertaining company of some of Dubai’s best known bloggers, the drama of the dancing fountains by the Burj went unnoticed. I can well envision BiCE Mare being the ideal place to book a table for ringing in the New Year. The fireworks along with a delizioso spread by Chef Leonardo with please the biggest of cynics. BiCE Mare’s set menu for New Year’s Eve starts at AED 2000 per head.
If you are a fan of Italian cuisine, BiCE Mare is a must-try. With a kitchen packed with Italian chefs and a menu taking you to every corner of Italy, it is no wonder that the restaurant has won a whole string of accolades including What’s On Magazine’s Award for ‘Best Seafood Restaurant’ 3 years in a row.
BiCE Mare is located on the top floor of Souk Al Bahar. For more information on the restaurant, and for making table bookings, visit their website
. Buon Appetito!