The circus theme of Circo means the venue is full of bright and bold décor and furnishings. It makes a change from some of the more traditional-looking Italians, which can sometimes feel a bit out dated and stuffy.
You’ll find a menu full of all the staples and favourites from the charming boot-shaped country, plus a few more adventurous dishes such as truffle risotto and poached octopus. The pizzas are excellent, and often surprising (saffron béchamel, mozzarella, shrimp and baby squid, for example). They’re made with the restaurant’s own sour dough, too. Keep an eye out for regular deals such a free drink with a main course every Tuesday and and 50 percent off when you dine between 5pm and 7pm.
Open daily 5pm-midnight. Licensed. InterContinental Abu Dhabi, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street (800 423 463).
Dino’s Bistro Italiano
With a vintage bicycle filled with flowers by the door, an American diner-style ‘Dino’s’ sign up on the wall and kitsch red-and-white checked tablecloths, Dino’s has a cool and casual vibe which comes as a refreshing surprise in a place as fancy as Abu Dhabi. For your pasta course, don’t miss ricotta and spinach ravioli. The fresh pasta is cooked al dentee, and topped with plenty of juicy tomato sauce. Once sprinkled with some chilli flakes and extra Parmesan, it’s pretty much perfect. The signature scarpariello is a comforting stew-like dish of Italian sausage, peppers, chicken and onion. It tastes like a proper homemade country recipe, and it’s far more interesting than a standard margherita pizza. We enjoy everything about it.
Open daily noon-3.30pm, 6pm-11pm. Licensed, Pearl Rotana Capital Centre (02 307 5551).
Villa Toscana exudes fancy date night vibes. With heavy wooden doors, a faux front in the hotel’s lobby and plush white tablecloths, you know it aims to give a memorable occasion. And it does. The service is excellent, friendly and attentive, with staff giving knowledgeable recommendations about the Tuscan menu. The room itself is rather grand, with murals of the Italian countryside on the walls and heavy, dark wood furniture. The grandeur is reflected in the prices, though that’s not really surprising given it’s one of the city’s fanciest Italians. Dishes are traditional and on the safe side. So if you’re after steady, tasty Italian dining you’ll be happy here. For swish, romantic meal, Villa Toscana delivers.
Open Sun-Thu noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm; Fri-Sat 12.30pm-4pm, 7pm-11pm. The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Nation Towers, Corniche Road (02 694 4553).
While Cafe Milano is sophisticated and fancy, the focus at this inviting Italian restaurant is on creating simple food that tastes fantastic. The picturesque views from the balcony over the water towards downtown aren’t bad either.
Daily noon-11.30pm. Licensed. Four Seasons Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island (02 333 2630).
With a name that carries a lot of expectation, it’s difficult to live up to the hype but Cipriani is consistently impressive. With a brilliant location overlooking Yas Marina, this swanky, high-end restaurant is an impressive place.
Daily 6pm-midnight. Licensed. Yas Marina, Yas Island (02 657 5400).
Based on looks alone Filini Garden would be one of the best restaurants in the city, with amazing views, a stunning outdoor terrace and an impressive, modern dining room. It’s cooking is just as knock-out.
Sun-Thu 4pm-3am, Fri 12.30pm-3m, Sat 12.30pm 12.30pm-1am. Licensed. Radisson Blu Abu Dhabi, Yas Island (02 656 2000).
An impressive dining rooms with panoramic views over the Arabian Gulf, plus a menu of Italian classics and a contemporary dishes too – some served with rustic charm and others as pretty as a picture.
Sat-Wed noon-11pm, Thu-Fri noon-midnight. Licensed. Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort (02 811 4342).
When dining at the Emirates Palace we expect to be dazzled by extravagant surrounding and a little luxury and you get both at Mezzaluna.
Daily 12.30pm-3pm, 7pm-11pm. Licensed. Emirates Palace, Corniche West (02 690 7999).
A swanky, modern dining room with food that delivers a vibrant, contemporary take on Italian cuisine that’s served in style.
Sat-Tue noon-3pm, 5pm-3am, Wed-Sat noon-3pm, 5pm-4am. Licensed. The Galleria Al Maryah Island (02 627 9009).
Si Ristorante Italiano and Bar
There’s plenty to like about this stylish eatery, with its wide-ranging menu, slick décor and welcoming staff.
Sat-Thu 1pm-10.30pm, Fri 6pm-10.30pm. Licensed. Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas (02 697 0000).