Italy is undoubtedly a heavyweight when it comes to having great food.
There's pizza, pasta, gelato, mozzarella... We could go on and on (and on).
Italian food is certainaly a crowd pleaser and we love it here at Time Out Abu Dhabi.
So if you're looking to try the best of the best when it comes to Italian food then here are the best restaurants from the Time Out Abu Dhabi Restaurant Awards 2018.
We’ve always enjoyed our visits to Villa Toscana – the aristocratic-themed dining room, charming staff, the relaxing views of the Corniche from the breezy terrace – it’s got a lot in its favour. Then, of course, there is the beautiful food that comes perfectly presented. Carpaccio is a reliable Italian staple and we’re lucky to have a few good interpretations in the capital. Villa Toscana treats its version differently. The beef encases a mound of sautéed onions and when combined with peppery rocket and shavings of parmesan, it makes for a punchy bite. Seafood fans will make light work of the creamy risotto. It comes with enough seafood to ensure you get a piece in every spoonful. It’s a little more loose than you’d usually find, but we love that – it just means you get to mop it all up with fresh, home-made bread. We recommend continuing the carb-fest with gnocchi in tomato and seafood sauce. The gnocchi itself is perfectly made and cooked. It’s light as a feather, where others are stodgy. Made with purple potatoes, it’s really striking, too. The walnut and fig sauce is something different to the usual offerings. A deserving winner.
The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Nation Towers, Corniche West (02 656 2412).
Cafe Milano was first opened by Franco Nuschese in Washington DC in 1992. Around 15 years later the second branch opened here in Abu Dhabi. The main man will be pleased to know that the quality hasn’t faltered in either venue since their first days. Little wonder this place is routinely packed out with well-heeled leadies and gentlemen of the capital, it is a super venue for lunch or dinner. The dining room is classy and the terrace, with views over the waters outside is beautiful. When it comes to the food, we recommend ordering the smoked burrata, which is presented with a little more panache than others in the ciry. The carpaccio is another excellent choice. A deep red blossom of wagyu beef petals is arranged lovingly on the plate. It’s accompanied by a perfectly cooked quail egg, Parmesan and truffle. The risotto is another good option, made with burrata (we know you love it), prawns and green peas. The gnocchi is another great dish here. The menu changes seasonally, so our suggestions might not be available on your visit, but we know that whatever you choose, you’ll be imnpressed.
Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island (02 333 2630).
As well as beautiful cities and enchanting countryside and coastlines, Italy is home to some of the most fantastic food in the world. Whether it’s pizza, pasta or antipasti, it’s all brilliant. Circo is one of the great Italian restaurants in the capital and its successes should be shouted from the rooftops. Circus-inspired and serving traditional cuisine with a fantastically theatrical twist, you know that you are in for an extra-special meal here. Italians get it so right because they use beautifully simple, yet extremely high-quality ingredients, and so it goes at Circo. The bufalina pizza, topped with tomato, mozzarella, buffalo mozzarella and basil is the perfect example of this. The flavours complement each other perfectly and it doesn’t need a long list of toppings. Chef Andrea Pastore has also reinvented some classic dishes. Seafood lovers will adore the squid ink and baby calamari risotto, which comes with crispy octopus and roasted tomatoes. However, the torta caprese is perhaps the standout dish. The amazingly moist chocolate and almond cake is rich but not too heavy. It’s not the type of sweet that’s impossible to finish, in fact it’s the opposite. You’ll be left wondering if it’s acceptable to order a second slice. It’s accompanied by creamy vanilla ice cream, tangy fresh raspberries and a sweet raspberry gel. It’s possibly the best end to a meal imaginable. Just one of many reasons to visit Circo.
InterContinental Abu Dhabi, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Street (800 423 463).
@DISTRICT by Amalfi
2018 has been a transformative year for Almafi – new name, new look, new menu. But despite its massive overhaul, this Italian eatery still produces some top-quality food, just with a cooler, more New York urban-style ethos. Pizzas are the speciality here, and man do they do them well. The halloumi creation is one of the best this side of Napoli.
Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa Street (800 101 101).
After so many years of service to the foodies of Abu Dhabi, BiCE should know a thing or two about giving diners what they want. The slick staff and sleek dining room back up what is a consistently quality menu of contemporary and traditional fare (the braised beef cheek with polenta is superb). Long live BiCE!
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, West Corniche (02 811 5666).
The original Cipriani is older than the UAE itself and while many of its rivals have fallen by the wayside over the years, this high-end Italian eatery (that knocks out Japanese food, too) remains a force to be reckoned with. We just love coming here for the Yas Marina views and the type of food that would make anyone swoon. The steak tartare is wonderfully moreish, so much so we order it every time.
Yas Marina, Yas Island (02 657 5400).
Dino's Bistro Italiano
Dino’s is one of those admirable places that wears its heart on its Italian tricolore-coloured sleeve. The servers treat you as if you’re on old friend who’s come to visit from out of town, bringing you dish after dish of honest, wholesome food. The ragù here is among the best we’ve tried and the portions are so big, a doggy bag might not be out of the question.
Pearl Rotana Capital Centre, Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street (02 307 5591).
When it comes to food with a view, few can better the location of Filini Garden. A gorgeous venue year round (thanks to the temperature-controlled terrace), this place has had our repeat business on a number of nights out with family and friends. Some of the food needs some work but we’d still highly recommend an evening here.
Radisson Blu Abu Dhabi, Yas Island (02 656 2000).
Any venue worthy of a spot in the Emirates Palace must be doing something right, and Mezzaluna does a myriad things absolutely spot-on. The classy ristorante has a devoted following (ourselves included) and some of that has to be attributed to the superb servers. The food is also fantastic, with the highlight of our latest visit being the burrata and the lamb tagliatelle. Just superb.
Emirates Palace, West Corniche (02 690 7999).
Roberto’s is a place that likes to keep us on our toes. From the ever-evolving menu to the revamping of the brunch to the launching of a music night, this Al Maryah Island eatery refuses to rest on its laurels. This is epitomised by the food it serves up, which has come a long way since our first experience and continues to improve each time.
Al Maryah Island (02 627 9009).