While variety in character and nature based on geographical location is seen in all types of food, no cuisine in the world is perhaps more adored, or more romanticised, for its rich diversity than Italian cuisine.
And even if you’re new to Abu Dhabi, you’ve probably noticed that Italian food is one of the most popular cuisines around town.
From malls to standalone cafes to hotel-based outlets, you’re almost guaranteed to stumble upon a menu with an item somehow inspired by delicacies from the European country. Whether the food is authentic in taste or not is another story, but the abundance of options certainly doesn’t hinder new players in the food and beverage scene from trying to cater to the capital’s love affair for Italian cuisine, hoping to offer something a bit different.
Enter Parmigiana, the newly opened restaurant at Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche.
Intimate, cosy and with a pleasant view of the Arabian Gulf, this 60-seater restaurant focuses on cuisines inspired by the Mediterranean island of Sicily, a cuisine known for its array of influences including Greek, French, Spanish and Arab.
The first thing that strikes me upon entering the restaurant is the wall of framed Hollywood celebrity portraits, from well-known Italians such as Sylvester Stallone, Luciano Pavarotti and Frank Sinatra, to George Clooney.
The overall concept strikes a balance between casual – black and white checkered tablecloths – and a five-star ambiance with warm lighting and soft Italian music adding a touch of fine dining.
When it comes to food, there are plenty of classic dishes on the menu, like the fritto misto di pesce antipasti, a starter of fried squid and prawns. The seafood is crispy and the accompanying garlic mayonnaise lends a tangy kick.
The risotto cooked with cepes mushrooms and topped with Parmesan has an earthy element from the addition of fresh truffles, which blend perfectly with the dish’s natural creamy flavour – it’s delicious.
The linguini alle vongole is a winning pasta dish. Strands of fresh pasta are mixed with garlic, clams and tomatoes making for a rich and buttery combination.
Arriving on a round, wooden plate, the Napoli pizza is mouthwatering, with its mozzarella cheese and anchovies, which gives it a salty-spicy punch that matches perfectly with the smooth cheese.
Ending with another classic, the tiramisu is a mix of Savoiardi biscuits, coffee mascarpone and cocoa powder. With a slight bitter taste balanced out by a drizzle of a sweet sauce, this dessert is a knockout and even better paired with a cup of coffee.
If you’re a lover of Italian cuisine, you may have your favourite restaurants but Parmigiana is worth a try for an authentic taste of Sicily.
Need to know:
Location: Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, Corniche East
We say: The food is as good as the ambiance
Cost: AED 288 for two
Opening times: Sun-Fri 12.30pm-3pm and 7pm-11pm
Contact: 02 813 7888, sofitel.com/7507
WORDS Ferdinand Godinez