Italian food must be the universally most liked cuisine, with pizza and pasta coming top on most people’s wish lists when it comes to dinner. Recognising this, Si Ristorante Italiano & Bar in the Saadiyat Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi has harnessed the power of simple Italian recipes done well, to create a popular family friendly restaurant.
With elegantly high ceilings the space feels light and airy, with well-spaced tables and a modern colour palette of neutrals offset with bold teal and purple accents. At its centre the space makes an exhibit of the huge wood fired pizza oven where you can watch the chefs at work making pizzas with a variety of toppings.
Choose to begin your meal with a fresh salad of grilled asparagus and bresaola or plump for one of the small sharing-style plates. Here the selection includes classic fritto misto, rich beef tartare spiked with pickles and truffle oil or char-grilled octopus with aioli. If it’s a plate of pasta or pizza you’re after then the options are far-reaching, with everything from carbonara and lasagne to margherita and salsiccie pizzas on offer. Feeling slightly more adventurous? The selection of secondi plates includes soft and tender braised lamb shanks and oven baked salmon. Elsewhere there’s a mozzarella bar and a small selection of soup, perfect for light bites or lunches. If you’ve managed to restrain yourself during starters and mains, and still have room for dessert, you’ll be rewarded with creations like a classic tiramisu, a hazelnut crunch with Nutella cream or the house’s signature chocolate and aubergine tart.
With table service, the ambiance here is relaxed yet sophisticated, and the friendly team is always on hand to offer suggestions on food or drinks if you’re struggling to choose. The dress code is smart casual, and there’s a sleek bar for pre- or post-prandial drinking.