Sandwiched between Grand Habtoor and Le Royal Meridien Hotel in JBR Dubai, I have discovered yet another hidden gem. Cucina Mia is an Italian restaurant owned and operated by Italian Chef Domenico Serra, and is located on the ground floor of Trident Grand Residence (JBR).
‘Cucina Mia’ translates to ‘My Kitchen’, and this very endearing name lives up to its promise of offering unabashedly authentic, homely Italian dishes. But don’t take it from me! I was introduced to Cucina Mia by an Italian friend who vouches that the fare is just like how her Mama does it 🙂 What better way to explore a country’s cuisine than to dine with someone who grew up eating it?
A little background on the Chef: Chef Domenico Serra grew up in Naples, Italy where most of his fondest childhood memories have been in the kitchen of his family-owned restaurant. Having a profound love for Italian cuisine from a tender age, it was only natural that the young Domenico took it up as his profession.
After building a solid reputation in some of the world’s most reputed F&B businesses, Chef Domenico finally opened his very own flagship store, giving the UAE a taste of ‘Vero Sapore Italiano‘ (true Italian flavours). Cucina Mia is ‘my kitchen’, Chef Domenico’s very own playpen for keeping alive the true traditions of simple, rustic Italian cooking.
Cucina Mia offers alfresco dining outdoors, but the real beauty of the restaurant is in its interiors. The place has been done up to look like a cosy, rustic inn that you might come across while travelling around a quaint little Italian village.
Vintage street lamps and twinkling fairy lights adorn the dusky pink and mustard walls and faux European-style balconies. The ambiance is all at once warm, welcoming and magical.
We started off our meal at Cucina Mia with three very different appetizers:
Burrata, Rucola E Pomodorini: A very fresh sac of Italian burrata cheese, served with cherry tomatoes and a rocket salad.
Polpo E Patate: This was the very first time I’d tried this dish. This dish consists of a mini tower of boiled, diced potatoes that has been topped with octopus, roasted tomatoes and celery. My Italian friend tells me she makes this herself, having learnt it from her very talented mother. It is apparently a very well-loved dish among Italians, and I can see why. The octopus was cooked to perfection, mildly salted and drizzled with oilive oil. The boiled potato base makes it the perfect (Italian) comfort food.
Parmigiana Di Melanzane: This is an Italian version of Mousakka, minus the richness of white sauce. It is made up of alternating layers of roasted eggplant, tomato sauce, parmesan and buffalo mozarella, and you can really taste the addition of fresh basil throughout the dish. This dish is a rather heavy appetizer, and I would highly recommend it if you are an eggplant and cheese fan.
Cucino Mia’s Customizable Pizzas: Being an Italian restaurant, ofcourse Cucina Mia does pizzas but unlike any other joint in the UAE, you can order a pizza that is up to 1 meter long! This is a great option for feeding crowds
The pizzas are baked in 25 cm batches, so you can customize the toppings per piece. We ordered a 50 cm pizza, half of which was Margherita and the other half Porcini (porcini mushrooms and buffalo mozzarella cheese topping).
The pizzas at Cucina Mia come with a thin, crisp base and we loved both of these generously cheesy toppings. A 50 cm serving is good enough to feed a group of four relatively hungry adults.
Perhaps the panel at the ‘UAE Best Pizza‘ award have not tried pizza here? I would highly recommend the Cucina Mia pizzas!
For our main-course, my Italian friend highly recommended the Orata In Crosta Di Patate. This is a lightly salted baked sea bream fillet that comes encrusted with thinly-sliced baked potatoes. The fish fillet is steaming hot and beautifully flaky, and the overall look and taste of this dish is very homely and comforting.
We also tried Cucino Mia’s Petto Di Pollo Ripieno Di Fromaggi. This is Italian for deep-fried chicken breast that comes with a crisp, golden-brown breaded coating and is stuffed with gooey, melting cheese. Cheese with chicken? How can this possibly go wrong? Forget the diet, and indulge in this clever little creation. It definitely requires a particular skill to create this chicken.
At Cucina Mia, Chef Domenico Serra spoils us with a very tempting list of Italian desserts. We tried both their Panna Cotta and Tiramisu, and it is impossible to choose a favorite out of the two. I loved both these very rich, indulgent desserts and would have to order them together again on a subsequent visit.
The presentation of both desserts is absolutely stunning! The Panna Cotta is a two-layered strawberry and vanilla variation, and comes in a mason jar. The dessert is cleverly loaded into the lid of the dessert as well. As they say, there is always room for dessert!
The Tiramisu comes on a stenciled platter of cocoa powder, and is light, creamy and sinfully delicious.
We ended our meal at Cucina Mia with warm, frothy cups of cappuccino.
If you are looking for an indulgent, unashamedly homely Italian meal, head to Cucina Mia. The flavors of true Italian cooking come through in this simple yet delicious fare by using the freshest of ingredients. It is also approved by my Italian friend who says they do it ‘just like Mama’!
Cucina Mia has a few specials for lunch that you might consider:
If you have a crowd to feed, order in their customisable pizza. Yes, they do deliveries!
Cucina Mia is located on the ground floor of Trident Grand Residence (between Grand Habtoor and Le Royal Meridien Hotel) in JBR, Dubai. Call 04 4259696 for details, and look them up on their website.