Alici, the Italian seafood restaurant inspired by the Amalfi Coast could not be better suited to the rapidly-developing Bluewaters Island off the coast of JBR. The licensed restaurant comes to us from the team behind the successful Il Borro Tuscan Bistro and offers diners similar touchpoints – appealing interiors, strong service and simple Italian fare focusing on quality ingredients.
Despite the identikit design of the buildings exterior leaving little doubt that this is a Meeras development, the feeling subsides from the moment you pass through the cream coloured door and into the warm and welcoming interior. Alici meaning anchovies in Italian, feels like a home away from home. As if a traditional Italian trattoria has been picked up and dropped upon the Dubai coastline.
The space is awash with bright tones and billowing textiles, punctuated by artworks featuring fish (this is a seafood restaurant after all) upon the whitewashed walls. Downstairs is the dining room with its raw bar, where guests can watch chefs slicing all manner of seafood with the utmost precision. We’d suggest grabbing a seat upstairs, home to a well-stocked bar of over 250 varieties of grape and floor to ceiling windows that bathe the space in an almost ethereal glow. Better still, head to the terrace for waterfront views which may not the craggy Amalfi coastline, but the skyline of Dubai Marina makes for a worthy substitute.
Alici describes their cuisine as ‘seafood the Italian way.’ Meaning diners can expect traditional fish dishes prepared in a simple and authentic Italian style. Having been enraptured by the raw bar we couldn’t resist ordering both the Ricciola (AED 65) and Tonno (AED 60), even though we were tempted by the selection of oysters and caviar available. The Ricciola, showcases thin slithers of amberjack served with a lemon dressing and is a definite highlight of the Alici dining experience, thanks to the inclusion of apple and pomegranate which brings a balance of acidity and sweetness to the dish. The Tonno, a seared blue fin tuna, presents thicker pieces of fish with romano pepper and a spicy dressing that is robust without overpowering the delicate nature of the fish.
Our attentive waiter persuades us to try both the burrata (AED 85) and Alici pizza (AED 80) which we cannot resist given it holds the name of the restaurant. The burrata is expectedly excellent, served with little embellishment other than chunky heirloom tomatoes and a sprinkling of basil oil. This allows the creamy Italian cheese to stand front and centre. Perhaps not the biggest fans of anchovies the Alici pizza transpires to be excellent. Presenting a thin and crisp base that’s exceptionally light and topped with burrata, elongated Datterino tomatoes, rocket and the anchovies. Bringing a nice saltiness to the fresh ingredients.
Though too full to indulge in the main courses that include seared hand dived scallops, grilled langoustine, and Wagyu tagliata. We opt for the unique pasta choice of spaghetti alla ‘Chitarra’ con ricci e riceiola (AED 105). Handmade spaghetti with sea urchin and amberjack which may be a divisive dish thanks to the sea urchin component but is one we truly appreciated and would certainly order again.
For dessert we select three! The Torta al formaggio (AED 50) arrives first and is a light and zesty lemon cheesecake served upon a bed of vanilla soil and crafted to look like an actual lemon picked fresh from one of the citrus trees that dot the dining room. A visual sensation is matched in taste and accounts for one of the prettiest dishes we’ve seen for some time. The more traditional choices of Tiramisu (AED 45) and Cannoli (AED 45) don’t disappoint either, with the tiramisu bringing an unexpected depth to the cream which is further enhanced by the espresso soaked ladyfingers that aren’t overly sweet. The trio of cannoli stuffed with pistachio, chocolate and orange are crisp and play well with textures, reiterating that simplicity is the key to the Alici dining experience.
Pricing is undeniably competitive and offers exceptional value for money considering the quality of the experience. If we had one niggle it would be that despite the genuine warmth of the staff who hail from all over Italy and exude that charm and hospitality one would expect, we did find the service style to be a touch intense at times. A common trait of newly opened establishments that is easily rectified.
Despite its obvious culinary strengths under the guidance of Head Chef Domenico Santagada, Alici represents more than just good food. Sustainability sits at the forefront of the restaurant’s ethos with fresh catches of Italian and local sustainably sourced seafood making up the Amalfitana and Southern Italian specialties upon a menu. These are set to change dependent on the season and sea availability.
What better way to celebrate the fruits of the sea than a visit to the newly opened Alici.
Out & About UAE were guests of Alici. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.