June 08, 2015 Gemmayze & Mar Mikhael Beirut Lebanon Middle East

Marinella: Le Coin Italien des Habitués
Non-smokers friendly

Phone Number: +961-1-442342

Address: Madrid Str – Mar Mikhael – Achrafieh, Beirut, Lebanon

Website:

Price Range: 20-40 $

Marinella, Beirut Marinella, Beirut
4.1 out of 5 based on 1 professional review.

RATING:82/100

Welcoming: 3/5

Food Temperature: 9/10

Ambiance / Music: 7.5/10

Menu Choice: 4/5

Food Taste: 28/30

Architecture / Interior: 8/10

Food presentation: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Value for money: 8/10

Unfortunately for you dear Italian cuisine lovers, Marinella only opens for lunch. You'll have to find a way to escape work or simply come on the weekend... To my luck, it was a Monday and an official holiday, so of course  Marinella was first on my list. 

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Three years have passed, a new more developed camera, a new approach, a completely different way of writing here at NoGarlicNoOnions, so I decided to give this special restaurant another visit. Three years have passed and still Marinella is considered to be one of be best Italians in Lebanon.

I love this gem, its spirit and positive vibes. In here, everyone is happy, people come to enjoy a pleasant moment, not to judge Marinella's cuisine. You are welcomed by Sophie, the owner, who makes sure every detail is taken care of meticulously.

Marinella has a menu, a limited menu, but also a specialty board changed on a daily basis. Antipasti, insalate, paste, gnocchi, risotti and dolce. Today's specialties were the crunchy vegetable salad, the eggplant caponata, cherry tomato burrata, penne alla nonna, scaloppine al limone as well as loukoum tart and pineapple carpaccio.

What a pleasant ambiance. A fully booked restaurant with guests coming from all over the country meeting for a business lunch or a friendly get together. Eating, smiling and shouting, I couldn't see but happiness on everyone's face.

Lunch starts with a bread basket as well as a plate of homemade Parmesan biscuits served with sliced salami. Extremely tender biscuits, which don't require any chewing to melt in style under your palate. Parmesan erupts in your mouth, while the biscuit crumbles smoothly. I loved its texture and taste.

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The place:

Built on two levels, Marinella hosts a terrace, a bar and a dining area. Open the door where the bar occupies the left side, before taking the two steps down to the dining space. A mirror takes over the left wall, making the place look bigger. Around the high ceiling are posters of old movies adding a touch of color to the decor. Down at the end, an open kitchen with grilling sounds adds a relaxing, musical ambiance. A fridge, bottles and jars, a big preparation table and the metallic plate display. All thr wooden tables are set with black placemats, two forks and two knives with a bottle of olive oil, as well as salt and pepper mills.

Let's eat:

  • The crunchy vegetable salad is indeed crunchy. A mix of asparagus, fresh mushrooms, green beans and rocket leaves mixed with a lemon sauce in a bowl. Green and white are the colors, crunchy is the texture and tasty is the flavor. I enjoyed crunching into those one at a time.
  • Sophie, insisted I taste something special, the bottarga pasta. Fine pasta cooked to perfection, al dente, and topped with shredded lemon peel, shredded bottarga (batrakh) and small pieces of parsley for the color, all together leaving a subtle, enjoyable bitterness. That's a connoisseur's kind of plate. If you like "Batrakh" that's a must try.

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  • Burrata: An oval plate centered with a fresh burrata surrounded by halves of cherry tomatoes. Mozzarella cheese of an excellent quality topped with olive oil, decorated with a bit of balsamic vinegar and sweetened with the tomatoes. I've said it before and still believe the same, the balsamic decoration isn't something I like to see. I would imagine the plate with more finesse than a spread of paint. The taste is perfect.

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  • Vitello Tonnato: A round plate generously filled with slices of roast beef bathing in tuna-mayo cream. An intense tuna flavor with a lemon note offering a smooth texture, while the roast beef adds the firmness to make every bite a unique one. That's a recommended plate.
  • Lobster and cherry tomato linguini: Mouthwatering eye candy, a fresh colorful plate that'll activate all your senses as it lands in front of you.  Al dente linguini, full of spices, fresh herbs, juicy tomatoes and some extremely tender lobsters offering a subtle grilled taste and a juicy heart. Bravo!
  • One of my favorite risottos is perfectly prepared at Marinella. I always wait to visit the Armani Caffe in Istanbul, Dubai and Milan to enjoy this unique creation and now, it's found in Lebanon with the same or even better flavors. The extreme flashy yellow color of saffron mixed with crunchy rice showcasing a boost of lemon. The presentation is awesome, the color is fresh and the taste is amazing. A must try.

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With that, I had a glass of Barbazzale white, an aromatic white with fruity freeness and floral notes.

I'd improve:

  • Think of another way to present the Burrata - the plate can be decorated better.
  • Ask the waitresses to tie their dangling hair up, it's more hygienic anyway.

The dessert choices are endless, and include ice cream by Oslo. I skipped on that today.

I have been missing out on lots of passionate creations... Two years without coming back for Marinella's flavorful food... My bad.

 




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