Sapori Di Bice – a casual, al fresco Italian restaurant

Sapori di BiceSapori Di Bice is the first casual Italian restaurant by the Bice family and it sits in Jumeirah’s new al fresco Citywalk mall, where high-end shops and eateries are dotted around a courtyard. Palm trees lead us straight to the restaurant’s Parisian-style outdoor café for a weekend lunch, but the Burj Khalifa skyline is no longer in direct line of sight.

The terrace seating is close in proximity, but not at all cluttered. Inside, it’s a quaint restaurant with petite white-washed furniture, whilst window displays of delectable sweets and fresh produce adorn the shelves giving it a friendly and picturesque vibe. It’s a busy spot but not crowded.

Sapori Di Bice sets out to be a casually chic Italian family dining concept. The menu has three options for sharing platters, whilst the rest comprises breakfast, morning coffee break and afternoon tea dishes. It’s then onto appetisers, soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, seafood, pizza and of course desserts. Upon request, Sapori will substitute certain ingredients for gluten-free and organic. We ask the waiter for his recommendations and he replies immediately and confidently, so we decide to test him out.

The bread basket with two dips, which is chargeable I should add at AED20, has two different types straight from the wood-burning oven in the corner – one is focaccia, soft and smooth with the combination of oil and slithers of tomato, and the other is powdery, hard and stale. I dip the bread into the cream cheese, and it is silky and dense on the tongue. The other dip is comprised of smashed olives in oil. With a Middle Eastern background, my love for olives is innate so I make sure to lick the plate clean. The dip’s portion is small though, we can’t get enough.

Fritto mistoRigatoniPizzaPanacotta

The fritto misto is an attractive dish fried to a golden crisp. This dish is like tempura, but better. The zucchini, mushroom and eggplant are simultaneously juicy, crispy, zesty – and addictive. The prawns are moist, but the calamari squid is rancid. Again the portion of accompanying spicy tomato sauce runs out quickly.

In between courses, the table is wiped of crumbs, except that the crumbs are just thrown on the floor which is a turnoff for my cleanliness obsession. For mains, we choose the rigatoni ‘norma’ pasta and the plate-sized vegetariana pizza. The rigatoni is lightly doused with fresh tomato sauce, eggplant and oregano, and a sprinkling of parmesan. Al dente, slightly juicy but smooth and easy to eat because of the bite-size rigatoni shells. I eat it quickly like I do most pasta dishes, but there’s no wow factor.

The presentation of the vegetariana pizza from the wood-burning oven is fresh and ingredient rich. Like authentic Italian pizza, the mozzarella and tomato sauce is used sparingly. It’s easy to devour since the base is crispy thin and the distinct taste of each ingredient – eggplants, zucchini, mushrooms, red onions and a little parmesan – is evident.

We aren’t leaving without trying dessert so we order a pannacotta to share. Its creamy base is topped with a thinner layer of raspberry sauce, with a sprinkling of berries and pistachios. Gelatinous, slippery and addictively sweet – the highlight of our lunch.

The service is swift and most of the ingredients seem fresh. At AED144 per head for two appetisers, two main courses, a dessert and two ice teas, Sapori Di Bice offers reasonable Italian food in serene surroundings at an affordable price.  The quaint atmosphere is delightful, but the food has its ups and downs, and with similar, successful concepts like Carluccio’s who Sapori would compete with, it will have to try a little harder. Where’s your go-to Italian cafe?

Sonia. x

Guest restaurant reviewer Sonia Abdulbaki is a PR professional by day and a full time writer by heart. To her, eating is a need, a want and an art. She never maintains a strict diet because that means restricting her curiosity for culinary discovery. She is Lebanese-American and has ventured to Dubai to find her independence and herself, whilst also discovering a new food culture.

P.S – Don’t forget to enter our West 14th competition here and win a host of lunches.

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13 Responses to “Sapori Di Bice – a casual, al fresco Italian restaurant”

  1. Carla Reveti April 22, 2014 at 12:59 am

    Love to read your reviews! Live near by Sapori di BICE and as an Italian, love there food and restaurant atmosphere & find it very authentic and consistent! My favorite dishes are there Kale & Goat Cheese Salads, Ravioli Massaia, Gnocchi with Pesto & their rotisserie. Favorite dessert is there gelato, esp the Pistachio and hazelnut and the chocolate fondant! Great service tops it all!

    • Sonia Abdulbaki April 22, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      Hi Carla,

      Nice to hear that you’re a fan of Foodiva! Thanks for the feedback on your own experience… I might re-visit and try these dishes myself :)

      Guest writer,
      Sonia

  2. dana April 22, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    thank you for sharing your review with us :) it is very informative
    i have actually been more than once to Sapori di bice and i felt in love with the food..
    since i am a big fan of the italian cuisine, i find this place to be one of the best in dubai.
    i have never been disappointed, the food & service were always up to my expectations!
    i would highly recommend this place ..

    • Sonia Abdulbaki April 27, 2014 at 9:45 am

      Thanks for your input Dana. I believe that when you catch a good Italian place, you should stick to it.

  3. Rolando April 22, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    I go to Sapori at least once a week. I am never disappointed. The menu has all the classic dishes and everything that I have ordered there has been great. I had the Roasted Chicken this visit………fantastic. The service is great and the waiters are very knowledgeable. You won’t be able to miss or pass on the delightful dessert. The Mousse trio is divine!

    • Sonia Abdulbaki April 27, 2014 at 9:48 am

      Hi Rolando. I’ve tried the roasted chicken on another visit to Sapori Di Bice and loved the crispness of it with the side order of potatoes. Actually reminded me of something I would eat at home.

      Thanks for your feedback.

      Guest Writer,
      Sonia

  4. fatimazahra April 22, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    My sister, college friend and I went to Sapori di Bice while on a girls trip to Dubai. We were sent by a good friend of mine who has been going there, and I now understand why. From the moment we walked in until we left we were well fed and well taken care of. Sapori couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating. The food was an endless parade of fantastic from the eggplant appetizer to the amazing ravioli I had for my meal. Great old school Italian food expertly prepared and served with love….couldn’t have been better. Crème brulee for dessert was just the right touch. I can see why Bice Group have been in business for such a long time…their service was friendly without being overbearing, food was amazing, and the room was comfortable and welcoming. Will definitely visit again!

    • Sonia Abdulbaki April 27, 2014 at 9:50 am

      Hi Fatimazahra,

      Glad to hear that you had a good experience and that you would definitely visit again. I would definitely go back just to get my hands on one of their desserts again!

      Guest Writer,
      Sonia

  5. Faryal April 22, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    What a great place, we had a fantastic meal and felt very welcomed by the staff, they treated us like family!!! I had the Bistecca which was perfectly cooked and came with roasted potatoes, yum! My husband had the risotto which was absolutely delicious! Our boys had pizza which was excellent! We finished off our meal with coffee and a gelato scoop, loved it! We will certainly make Sapori a regular stop Great food, family atmosphere…

    • Sonia Abdulbaki April 27, 2014 at 9:53 am

      Hi Faryal,

      Family atmosphere and tasty Italian food is what Sapori Di Bice sets out to have, so I’m glad to hear that it portrayed just that through your experience!

      Guest Writer,
      Sonia

  6. Iqbal April 24, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    I already read your blog and I love it! we actually visited Sapori 2 weeks ago and we had the gnocci di patata (ahhhmazing!) and the pizza with the dried tomatoes- all authentic and delicious! The staff was friendly and welcoming. Loved it!

    • Sonia Abdulbaki April 27, 2014 at 9:54 am

      Hi Iqbal,

      Thanks for tuning in to Foodiva :) There’s nothing better than a dining experience with a friendly atmosphere and of course, good food!

      Thanks for your feedback.

      Guest Writer,
      Sonia

  7. Sheloob April 28, 2014 at 9:15 am

    This is a greaaaaatttt place to get savory Italian food and enjoy friends specially if you sit at the social table,The waiters were fantastic – made me feel at home and like they really wanted my business. You rarely get this lucky in Dubai!

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