One of the greatest things about Italian cuisine is that no matter where you are in the world, it unites the people in its popularity. Part of its appeal, we think, is that Italian cooking tends to steer clear of unnecessary complications and instead lets the ingredients speak for themselves. A really good pizza, for example, requires little more than a crisp base, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese – what's not to love? While the main elements of some of the country's greatest pasta dishes can be counted on one hand (cacio e pepe we’re looking at you). It’s a cuisine after our own hearts and, apparently, everyone else's.
Abu Dhabi’s restaurant scene is international, but there is a definite lean towards Italian-inspired restaurants, from fine dining establishments to more casual family affairs (you’ll find plenty of places that offer child-friendly menus). That's why, if you’re searching for Italian places to eat in Abu Dhabi, this guide will act as your gourmet guru. There are so many Italian restaurants in the capital of the UAE that you’re guaranteed to find somewhere to suit every style of dining.
Many of these places are nestled inside some of Abu Dhabi’s plushest hotels, which can be a neat trick when it comes to scouting out the best restaurants in the city. Sure, they might be hidden inside a high-rise hotel, but they’re absolutely dining destinations in their own right and often cater to everything from business lunches to dinner with the kids.
So, if you’re staying in Abu Dhabi and are after some of the greatest Italian food in the area, then keep on scrolling. These top restaurants serve up all the classics, from freshly-made pasta to wood-fired pizza, as well as some seriously inventive twists that will have you rethinking the way you view Italian food.
Best Italian restaurants in Abu Dhabi for fine dining
This guide could very easily be an ode to pasta and pizza, and while it also kind of is, Italian fare stretches far beyond these two starchy stars. Enter Abu Dhabi's best Italian restaurants for when you're looking for something a little bit fancy.
What: Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi is home to a wealth of culinary destinations, one of which is Café Milano, overseen by Chef Franco Sangiacomo. The upmarket dining room dons white tablecloths and waterside views, while the plates themselves put a fine dining spin on Italian dishes and flavours. You might find spaghetti with wagyu beef meatballs and homemade pasta with short rib ragu. From the main plates look out for pan-seared scallops with roasted cauliflower puree, n’duja oil and toasted hazelnut dressing, while one risotto dish features luxury ingredients such as saffron and a veal reduction. This would make a great spot for a work meeting too, with a business lunch menu to boot.
Where: Four Seasons Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, 3838
Book now: Café Milano
Cipriani Abu Dhabi
What: This uupmarket restaurant is a must when in Abu Dhabi, not least because its alfresco dining offering is truly memorable. The waterside terrace serves spectacular views of the city while you dine on the likes of wagyu beef fillet with mushroom sauce and mixed herbs, veal ‘Milanese’ or king crab with olive oil and lemon.
Where: Building 1 Yas Marina, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, 145188
Book now: Cipriani Abu Dhabi
What: Teatro treads the line between fancy and casual, although we'd probably put it in the former camp. The international menu caters for everyone via a series of comforting classics, all within the chic surrounds of a grown-up sort of dining room. You'll find plates hailing from Spain, China, Japan, Thailand and India, but skip to the Italian section of the menu if it’s pasta and pizza you have a hankering for. Fettucine carbonara and truffle mushroom risotto are some of the indulgent options on offer.
Where: Al Salam Street, Eastern Ring Road, Abu Dhabi
Book now: Teatro
Best Italian restaurants in Abu Dhabi for casual dining
Whether you have the entire family in tow or are looking for eateries without the frills, these restaurants serve up a combination of classic Italian dishes with a side of chilled vibes.
Si Ristorante Italiano and Bar
What: Si Ristorante Italiano and Bar is just one from a bundle of restaurants on offer at Rotana Hotel, although you won’t go far wrong if you choose this Italian spot. In the centre of the modern dining space is a huge wood-fired pizza oven and you can watch chefs artfully create freshly-made bases from the open kitchen. There’s also a mozzarella bar (oh, yes), ham and cheese boards aplenty as well as lots of risotto and pasta dishes.
Where: Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, 48578
Book now: Si Ristorante Italiano and bar
What: This all-day Italian restaurant from acclaimed British chef Tom Aikens transitions seamlessly from day to night. Take stock of the set menu lunch, which includes two or three courses with water or a mocktail - that’s a fantastic deal whether you’re dining for business or leisure. Or, why not take afternoon tea out on the lush veranda – aka Tea on the Terazza – where you can feast on an array of Italian-inspired sweets and savouries. The outdoor space is also stunning in the evening, illuminated by lanterns and candles to create a cosy paradise in which to enjoy a cocktail or two.
Where: The Abu Dhabi Edition, Al Bateen Marina, Abu Dhabi, 127799
Book now: Alba Terrace
Dino’s Bistro Italiano
What: If you're after after a reliable option that is sure to please little ones, then Dino’s Bistro Italiano offers casual vibes and a crowd-pleasing menu that will do the job nicely. Discover a selection of pizza and pasta dishes as well as salads, soups, cheese boards and desserts.
Where: Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street, Abu Dhabi, 94895
Book now: Dino’s Bistro Italiano
What: This popular restaurant is loved for its authentic Italian cooking, laid-back atmosphere and stunning outdoor terrace where diners can take stock of the hotel’s beach and gardens. The simple dining room boasts wooden floors and tables for a rustic-modern feel, while the menu features plenty of familiar favourites that adults and kids alike will love.
Where: Beach Rotana, Hameem-Abu Dhabi Road, Abu Dhabi
Book now: Prego’s Restaurant
What: Just to clarify, ‘Mare’ is Italian for ‘sea’, an apt title for this waterside restaurant which offers some of the best sea views in the city. Its location dictates what this restaurant does best - fish and seafood – so don’t miss the raw crudo bar where you can order an extravagant platter of oysters, prawns, langoustine, clams and more. The seafood risotto is served in a casserole pot and made to be shared between two people, and don’t miss the salt crust sea bass for something truly standout. You’ll find this restaurant inside the Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort.
Where: Jumeirah At Saadiyat Island Resort, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
What: Everything about Villa Toscana is set up to transport you to Tuscany. The interiors are designed in the style of a traditional Italian villa, offering warm wooden surfaces and brass chandeliers, while the menu pays homage to Tuscan delicacies. Start with spicy baked prawns baked with garlic, cherry tomatoes, basil and toasted bread before tucking into homemade tagliolini pasta with creamy porcini sauce and trumpet ash, and wild black bass with king oyster mushrooms, eggplant and turnip crackers.
Where: The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Nation Towers, Corniche, Al Khubeirah, Abu Dhabi
What: Housed inside Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Residences Emirates Pearl, there’s a lot to love about this welcoming restaurant. The trendy interiors don ceiling-high shelves and bare filament bulb light fixtures, while a variety of menus from brunch and business to kid-friendly make it a versatile spot for all occasions. Pizza and pasta make up the majority of the menu, but you’ll also find a selection of Mediterranean mains such as grilled salmon with red pepper salsa and asparagus and braised lamb shank with crispy polenta and broccolini.
Where: Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Residences Emirates Pearl, Al Khubeirah, Abu Dhabi
What: This infinitely fashionable offering is the sort of place that makes you feel instantly inspired. Larte is comprised of a restaurant, all-day café, cocktail and wine bar, coffee and chocolate bar, art gallery and cultural venue – all wrapped up in a modern and spacious restaurant. Here you can dine on truffle burrata with artichoke puree, Sicilian arancini, penne alfredo and risotto veal osso bucco. It also runs a happy hour every day from 4-8pm when you can grab 50% off house drinks.
Where: Manarat Al Sadiyaat, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
Fancy going further afield? How about taking a look at the best Italian restaurants in Dubai