The first feeling you experience when you step into Oregano at the Al Barajeel Complex in Dubai’s Mirdiff is a sense of warmth and hospitality. The ambience is homely, casual and friendly – just how an Italian restaurant should be.
The décor is typical Italian – simple benches and tables, exposed wooden beams, assorted Italian-inspired artefacts and large glass windows overlooking the al fresco seating area.
And like any Italian mamma’s larder, the menu at Oregano too is chock a block with dishes. For starters we opted for crab cake (Dh44) – breaded crab patties with a dip of red pepper sauce and lemon mayonnaise, topped with a poached egg. While the crab cake was yum, the egg was a tad too well done.
The salt and pepper calamari (Dh41) – lightly coated in seasoned flour and deep fried to perfection – however was perfect and kept me tucking into it all through the meal.
Keen to have some veggies, we ordered a salmon and quinoa salad (Dh47) that came with plenty of greens, roasted beetroot, diced cucumber and goat cheese and baked salmon.
For the mains we had Linguine Peperoncino con Pollo (Dh39). Perfectly cooked linguine tossed in just a dash of olive oil, it had succulent strips of chicken redolent with the aroma of garlic and chili that set the tastebuds abuzz. The extra pinch of chili we requested gave the dish a nice bite.
Not wanting to skip the quintessential Italian pizza, we requested for the Classica (Reg Dh45) – a thin crust pizza with baby Mozzarella, basil, cherry tomatoes and tomato sauce. Baked to perfection with just the right amount of cheese, I greedily tucked into two slices – even though I’d had a sumptuous portion of the delectable pasta. (Oregano also offers whole wheat penne and spaghetti and gluten-free pasta.)
Oregano’s dishes, redolent with olive oil, herbs and fresh produce, are inspired by Liguria, the coastal region of north-western Italy. Chef Tony, one of the three partners of the restaurant chain, who has served his culinary delights in US, Australia and Switzerland, recently reworked the entire menu at Oregano including a few brand new creations.
Going easy on butter, cheese and cream, he instead relies on fresh produce and top quality ingredients to flavour the dishes, says Biju George, who along with Maurizio, who hails from a chef family based in Italy, set up the chain that now boasts eight restaurants across Dubai.
Stuffed and satiated, I was leaning back contented when the house special Passionfruit Panna Cotta arrived, clearly one of the most delicious panna cottas I’ve had in a long time. Soft, smooth and the tang of passion fruit subtly flavouring each spoonful, it was a fine way to complete a meal.
Anand Raj O.K.
Features Editor of Friday Magazine