The UAE can add another first to its feathered cap: La Fabbrica Italiana is the first focacceria to open in the Emirates, at wasl 51, Dubai.
Dedicated to the humble but delicious Italian bread, the artisanal, family-owned cafe will serve but three items: burrata, tiramisu and focaccia.
Diners will, however, be spoilt for choice, thanks to the 15 varieties of freshly baked focaccia on offer. This includes Italian barese (with tomatoes and olives), ligure (with pesto, potatoes, green beans and Parmesan) and trentina (with tomatoes, Scamorza cheese, mushrooms and beef speck), as well as bread infused with local flavours such as zaatar.
La Fabbrica Italiana
Much like its menu, the airy focacceria has kept its interior minimalist. The bread is baked fresh on-site, lending the space a mouth-watering aroma.
The cafe takes its inspiration from the traditional 2,000-year-old recipe, with each batch of focaccia undergoing a rigorous fermentation process of 72 hours; doing so renders the bread light and unlikely to cause bloating.
The team, led by chef Davide Galbiati, also takes pride in its "original" tiramisu. The recipe comes straight from the La Fabbrica Italiana family's great-aunt Speranza Bon, who is widely credited as creating the dessert in 1958 at her Al Fogher restaurant in Treviso when a Greek princess came to visit. Speranza called it the Imperial Cup, served as it was in a coppa imperiale.
The Dubai cafe will do the same, and makes its tiramisu with imported Italian egg yolks (which lends it a cream honeysuckle colour), Bialetti-brewed mocha coffee, whipped mascarpone and dark chocolate shavings.
The burrata, meanwhile, comes with a variety of accompaniments: capsicum, anchovies and basil, avocado, baba ganoush and a spice mix. Served with a slice of focaccia and a side salad, it makes for a filling and tasty meal.
Here are some other things to know about focaccia before you go:
Is focaccia the same as pizza?
Although it's sometimes referred to as pizza bianca and can be pie-shaped, focaccia is more a sandwich bread or side dish.
As a rule of thumb for Italian words, if "c" follows "a" it takes the hard "k" sound; while "c" followed by an "i" takes the soft "ch" sound. When placing your order at La Fabbrica Italiana, then, you want to order "fo-ka-cha".
Food writer and gourmet Emily Price relies on the Good Taste website recipe when making focaccia at home. "While it might not be entirely traditional, it is easy to follow and not particularly time-consuming," she says.
Olive & rosemary focaccia
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Makes: 1 loaf
310ml warm water
2 tsp dried yeast
2 tsp caster sugar
3 1/2 tbsp olive oil
450g plain flour
2 tsp sea salt flakes
1 1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
20 pitted Kalamata olives
- Combine the water, yeast, sugar and 2 tablespoons of oil in a small bowl. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 5 minutes or until frothy.
- Place flour and half of the sea salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in yeast mixture. Use a wooden spoon to stir until combined, then use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.
- Turn on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Brush a bowl with oil to grease. Place dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 200°C. Brush a 20 x 30 centimetre Swiss roll pan with 2 teaspoons of remaining oil. Punch down centre of the dough with your fist. Turn on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes or until dough is elastic and has returned to original size.
- Press into the prepared pan. Cover with a damp tea towel and set aside in a warm, draught-free place to prove for 20 minutes or until doubled in height. Use your finger to press dimples into the dough. Brush with remaining oil and sprinkle over rosemary and remaining salt. Press the olives into the dough.
- Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden and focaccia sounds hollow when tapped on base. Serve warm or at room temperature.