Bianca Mozzarella & Co love their jars. The iced tea came in a jar. The buratta came in a jar. The knives and forks came in a jar and the bill came in a jar. I wonder if IKEA was having a jar sale.
Bianca Mozzarella & Co is at Box Park, on Al Wasl Road. Box Park is a great little retail space, and is again, a signal that Dubai is growing in confidence and competence. I only hope the landlords are being reasonable with rents as the whole area will be messy for another few years at least.
OK, the concept, in a nutshell – or milk sack. Once upon a time, there was an Italian couple who produced the finest mozzarella cheese in the land. They became famous and revered for their wonderful cheese skills. A few years passed and two nephews, who had traveled across oceans and mountains, realized that no-one could replicate the quality and authenticity of their grandmother’s cheese. So they did what any one of us would have done. They built a mozzarella factory in Sharjah. I guess it’s the building that has the water buffalo hanging around outside.
The restaurant is split into two sections – the main kitchen and restaurant and a separate conservatory section which just has seating and a random wooden swing. We decided to eat in the conservatory because the Serb wanted to have a go on the swing. The waiter was very keen to explain the concept to us, and proudly announced that the chef was Italian whilst pointing to a chef in the kitchen that looked suspiciously Filipino.
I think it’s the white furniture and white-washed stone walls that did it, but the space is really very relaxing and rather quaint – some might even say romantic – despite being within spitting distance of the main road and without any music at all, not even a whistling waiter.
Despite being packed at the weekends, the place was quiet when we ate there – in fact, there was a moment when the Serb went to freshen up, and the waiter left to go to milk the buffalo or something, and it was perhaps the most alone I have ever felt in Dubai. It was just me and the silence and an random, wooden swing.
So Bianca is banking on their mozzarella. So much so, that they have put it in the name of their restaurant. If you are confident enough to name yourself after such a specific food item, it better be good. And my goodness, it is better than good. It is excellent. The burrata al bicchiere is mozzarella cheese with whipped cream, served in a jar with croutons, sweet cherry tomatoes and baby spinach leaves. It is quite possibly the best thing I have ever had in a jar. And I have had a lot of things in jars, surprisingly. I have always said every restaurant needs a signature dish, and the best of these can make a restaurant famous. This could be one of these dishes.
The rest of the meal was pleasant, maybe even good, but there is such a divide between the quality of the buratta and the other dishes, that the rest of the meal appeared all quite average.
The bruschette was satisfactory – but having said that, I always compare it to a bruschette served in Tuscany in the late summer when the tomatoes are at their finest. Not particularly fair of me, I know, but it’s me that has to live with that constant disappointment, not you. The great thing about Italian cuisine and the thing that makes it so unique is that the simpler you keep it, the better it can taste.
The penne alla siciliana was also very average – undercooked pasta in a heavy, complicated tomato sauce with the basil calling in sick.
The food is served on large cumbersome chinaware that reminds me of banquet plates from the 1980s. Oh and by the way, Bianca Mozzarella & Co love their jars. The iced tea came in a jar. The buratta came in a jar. The knives and forks came in a jar and the bill came in a jar. I wonder if IKEA was having a jar sale.
The chicken salad was uninspired and rather boring – several slices of grilled chicken hiding a mountain of iceberg lettuce. Just so we are clear – Iceberg lettuce is the most boring of the lettuce family. Iceberg is the last lettuce to get invited to the salad party. This dish would have benefited tremendously by getting a little inventive with its salad leaves.
Bianca has some great reviews on their facebook page and it’s obvious they have some serious fans. Some of them are perhaps a little too enthusiastic. However, there are some sterling comments such as “One Word – THE BEST” and “The greatest Italian restaurant of its kind!” Pretty powerful stuff.
Overall, Bianca is a great neighborhood Italian with its own inimitable charm. The service is friendly and genuine. The space is relaxed and charming, and the mozzarella is some of the best in Dubai. But there is an old Italian proverb (probably) that says, “A man cannot live on mozzarella alone” and neither can Bianca.
Nonetheless, I will be back to put that proverb to the test.