Casa Mia – explore the familiar in a new way with Michelin Star Chef Enzo De Prà

A true explorer can revisit the same places time and again, and always find something new and wonderful.

Such was our experience last night, when we found ourselves on familiar grounds at Le Meridien Dubai, and especially at Casa Mia – a restaurant close to our hearts where hubby and I shared many a candlelit moment. Suffice to say, a wave of nostalgia enveloped us as the very friendly manager ushered us to our table. We knew this quaint little institution a lot too well; almost as if it was our second home.

Our attendant advised us that the legendary Michelin star Chef, Enzo De Pra (practices his trade at the one Michelin Star restaurant, Ristorante Albergo Dolada in Italy) was at the premises and had conjured up a very special ala carte menu – available until 25 Feb. A quick glance at this and we nodded in agreement – the menu had enough to tickle our curiosity and willingness to explore something familiar in a new way – and that too, experience Michelin Star affairs without having to board an airplane.

We kick started our evening proceedings with a bottle of some very fine Prosecco ‘The Independent’ (Brut Millesimato 2015) – and toasted to yet another evening of bonding over good food and drinks – the simple pleasures of life.

From the starter’s selection, I for one quite enjoyed the Zuppa Patora, which is essentially a soup featuring cream of beans, corn and patora – wholesome, robust – it’s packed with flavours and perfect for Dubai winters. My husband on the other hand excitingly ordered the radiccho beans salad, and the frown on his face conveyed that he quite didn’t understand nor like this dish. Suffice to say, stick with the soup – but thankfully that was the only hiccup, as the rest of the dishes presented not only had finesse but ranked high on flavour profiles.

Our second course involved Dolada’s famous carbonara – and one of two dishes that made our evening (would definitely recommend this). The dish when brought to our table was deconstructed into its component elements – fettuccine pasta, pancetta, and a slow cooked egg (half an hour at 60 degrees) and a generous smattering of Parmesan cheese. Our attendant promptly mixed all these elements together leaving us with an enjoyable paste with good texture and pancetta that was delish. All too familiar comfort food, with a twist.

My husband opted for the Risotto Al Pistacchio, Peperoncino E Gamberi – served on a flat plate, it meant he had to dig into it a lot quicker lest it became cold. Bursting with flavours, the prawn risotto was cooked to perfection – rich and creamy, every grain had a nice textural crunch – al dente, at its best. The prawns were succulent, with a subtle hint of chilli to elevate this to a must have.

Pleasantly surprised, we continued with our Prosecco along with some light hearted banter with the restaurant manager. It’s always a good sign when the manager or attendants share a bit of trivia about dishes that are presented; and priceless when attendants show pride in service efficiency and knowledge. We paced ourselves well, and after a short break were ready for the mains – the jewels of Chef Enzo’s menu. To say that we were too eager to be surprised was an understatement. Michelin star affairs, almost always have a very high level of expectations and critique.

I settled for the Petto D’Anatra All’Arancia – pan seared duck breast, served with an orange sauce. The sliced pieces of duck though delicately tender, also had a beautiful, deep golden and super crispy skin – this when drizzled with orange sauce, complements the flavour of the meat to an absolute perfection. This friends, was the second dish that stood out head and shoulders above the others.

Not to be outdone, the slow cooked veal that hubby ordered was something to be proud about. Prepared Dolada style, the meat was juicy, the potato mash had a nice velvety feel and the creamy tuna sauce excited the palette.  Traditional dish that looked the part and tasted delicious.

The apple tart and the crispy horn filled with fresh cream, accompanied by an assortment of berries – made for a wonderful end to an interesting evening. Good food, good wine and yet another good memory at Casa Mia – albeit this time, with the blessings of one of the longest standing Michelin Star Chefs in Italy.

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