Italian at Villa Toscana - St. Regis, Abu Dhabi
|While not marketed as romantic, the possibilities are here.|
We walk in and are shown to our table. We are seated in the larger dining area. Immediately I feel I am in someone's home. No doubt. The wooden floors have a used feel to them. They could have been made using a shiny and glossy wood, but then it would seem unnatural. No, this is a villa in which people live - that is the concept anyway, and it works. Drawn curtains continue the illusion, as does a fireplace in the centre of the room. Ornate chandeliers place this villa in a specific period when it was not politically incorrect to be wealthy and to celebrate that wealth. The first thing I notice is that staff tread elegantly here - there is not the annoying clip clop that often comes when a restaurant has a wooden floor. Graceful.
|The bar cum lounge area - ideal for a pre dinner drink.|
|I loved this sparkling wine.|
Next up we have the Cured raw chianina beef, rocket, radicchio, tomatoes, parmesan cheese and caramelized onion. It is exquisitely presented, with the rucola ensconced in the beef. As I cut through it, I see rucola in abundance. Very creative, even in this traditional approach to Italian cuisine.
While I wait for my main I have another glass of Stefano Antonucci Spumante Brut. This golden yellow coloured sparkling wine is full and flowery - easily one of the nicest sparkling wines I have had by the glass.
|A lovely chianti to pair with my ravioli.|
As my evening progresses the one disconcerting element in an otherwise excellent evening, is the music. In wanting to create the atmosphere and feel of a villa in Tuscany, I find the music choice curious indeed. I understand it would be cliched to play Italian music, but even if it were pop it would work better. I kept waiting for Bocelli to start or even something something light heartedly romantic by Cesare Cremonini, but nothing.
Soon after, dessert is presented. We have the Tiramisu which comes with chocolate tuile, kahlua jelly, praline and chocolate sorbet. The mascarpone cream is much richer than I expected, and I love it. The absolute highlight for me though is the bitter cocoa that sits atop the tiramisu. It brings an added intensity to the dish. I also try the Chocolate sphere with caramel. This is served with wild seasonal berries, milk gelato and hot chocolate fondant. Great taste and presentation. My daughter has a selection of gelato, and the pistachio gelato delights!
|Grappa to accompany my dessert|
Villa Toscana is one of the most authentic experiences you are likely to have in the capital. I arrived a stranger, but thanks to true Italian hospitality, I left richer for having interacted with the people inside, eaten from Chef's Stefano' plates and drunk from Enrico's glass.
St. Regis Abu Dhabi (Corniche)
02 694 4553
Starters 75-130 Dhs
Mains 75-395 Dhs
Desserts 40 Dhs
Pictures thanks to Nokia Creative Studio on my Nokia 1520