Reviews, pictures, contact and booking details for the best Italian restaurants in Bahrain, part of the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards.
If you’re craving a pizza with all the toppings, could do with a carb-loaded pasta dish, or simply want to devour a ton of cheese, we’ve got the best suggestions from Rome to Naples abroad. Time Out has visited each and every restaurant to put them through their paces, assessing factors including quality of food, ambience and service. Popular or relatively unknown, we’ve gone undercover to find out what you’re getting for your money at each venue.
Every staff member at The Ritz-Carlton’s upscale, fine-dining Italian spot, from the waiter to the manager and the chef, is Italian, and they are rightly proud of this. It certainly adds to the authentic trattoria-style experience. The bright, airy venue is stylish and contemporary, with quirky design elements and lovely views over the hotel’s gardens. As for the menu, it’s filled with tempting, original dishes created by Michelin-starred chef Oliver Glowig and each perfectly-portioned, beautifully presented dish is as tasty as the last. Sit inside, surrounded by the contemporary, tasteful décor, or outside on the intimate terrace area; either way you’ll have a great experience, as this place is consistently brilliant.
With a new look and revamped menu, La Pergola certainly upped its game in 2016. The Italian stalwart at The Gulf Hotel offers an upscale dining experience, with excellent, friendly service and tasty, home-style food. The selection of dishes on offer is wide without being overwhelming, while the highlight of any meal here are the delicious Italian desserts, which we urge you to save room for.
Italian cuisine is always a big hit with the kids. Spag bol and margharita pizza – how can you go wrong? That’s just one of the reasons we love this family-friendly eatery, which has scooped our Best Family Restaurant for two years in a row and has been awarded with the Highly Commended accolade for Italian this year. It’s a spot with style; the venue is bright and airy, with large tables for big family gatherings, and plenty of delicious sharing dishes. It also happens to be based in one of Bahrain’s most family-friendly resorts, and right next to the dancing fountains which mesmerise the little ones every hour. We love that it has added a relaxed, Saturday brunch, which is great for singles, couples and families alike. We’re sold.
This cosy, humble restaurant serves up Italian cuisine “just like mama used to make”. The quaint setting, overlooking the beautiful lagoon, is a popular venue for families, not just because of the rustic interiors, but also the great, kid-friendly dishes. Think wholesome spaghetti Bolognese and a wide array of tasty pizzas. If you stick to the Italian classics, which are all generously portioned and reasonably priced, you won’t go wrong in terms of flavour. But always remember to leave room for the excellent, chocolate desserts.
Where better to discuss business than in one of Bahrain’s most iconic office spaces? BiCE, located in the notable Bahrain World Trade Centre, offers a sophisticated setting, lovely views and a chic ambience in which to meet with one of your clients, which is why it’s won our Highly Commended Business Lunch award for two years in a row. The food, which is upscale Italian, will also impress, as there is plenty of choice and the flavours are well-balanced. Just make sure you’re ready for it to be leisurely, as they serve three courses per person, alongside a glass of grape. Even if you’re headed there for a dinner instead of lunch, BiCE offers a range of fabulous dishes, excellent views and a grown-up, intimate, sophisticated vibe. It shouldn’t be overlooked.
Café Italia is an ambiently-lit, chic restaurant, great for a romantic date with your spouse or a quiet dinner. In the years since it opened, the service here has always been stellar – knowledgeable, eager and efficient. However, the quality of food hasn’t always been consistent. This year, we’ve had some interesting salads – the well-known strawberry and blue cheese creation being a standout – but some rather bland and over-cooked pasta. Much of the time, the food doesn’t match the elegant setting (although, often, the prices do). Unfortunately, it seems, this translates to a lack of guests and therefore a somewhat subdued atmosphere, which is a shame for such a stunning venue.
Decades-old, independent restaurant Cico’s has become synonymous with rustic, Italian dining and is something of an institution on the island. Its menu, décor and even staff have been changed and revamped in recent years and while the quality isn’t as outstanding as in its heyday, Cico’s still enjoys a regular and loyal clientele, thanks to its homely setting and excellent, friendly service. Throughout the year, the team also invites out visiting chefs who create limited-edition menus of excellent, creative dishes to keep it interesting. It’s certainly still a recommended spot for a lovely and affordable evening out, indulging on authentic Italian food.
This highly-popular Italian eatery, with its red leather booths and nostalgic film noir décor, is a friendly, casual and welcoming kind of place. The staff are enthusiastic, coming armed with suggestions, while the food is generously portioned and traditional. Don’t expect fine-dining, gourmet-style food, but do enjoy the down-to-earth setting and lively atmosphere.
Plenty of hype surrounded the opening of this Italian restaurant in Seef in 2016. It's from the makers of nearby, award-winning Café Lilou and, so far, it lives up to expectations. Aesthetically it’s bold, with quirky wooden panelling, exposed brick columns and split-level bay windows. The atmosphere is also drummed up by a swing-style soundtrack and an open kitchen. It’s full of subtle touches and, importantly, great food, such as the delicious, star-shaped signature pizza, the creamy ricotta ravioli and slow-cooked veal ragu. Standards are consistent, and we hope it remains that way.
Based in the new(ish) Asdal Gulf Inn, this Italian restaurant is surprisingly cute, with red and white checked table cloths, an appealing menu and house beverages. The food is tasty, albeit nothing particularly to write home about. However, for the quality and large portions, everything is extremely reasonably priced.
Based right next to one of the island’s most popular schools, locally owned Luigi’s does a good job of feeding the family with filling and rustic Italian grub. All your favourite pizzas, pastas and paninis are on the menu for eat in or takeaway, and there are even a few healthy dishes, such as garden-fresh salads for the more calorie-conscious diners among us. The staff are always charming and venue is cosy and intimate – perfect for a stress-free, casual meal with the kids straight after school on any day of the week.
Medzo is a nice enough restaurant, with pleasant interiors, great servers and tasty food, but it’s nothing particularly special. It’s a casual hotel venue that’s rather formulaic; even the windows look out onto the lobby so there’s no escaping the rather stilted atmosphere inside the restaurant. It’s a decent choice for families, with its friendly atmosphere and prices that won't break the bank, as well as for a quick business lunch in the city. For a special occasion though, look elsewhere.
Foodies (us included) were delighted when Nino launched a second branch in Riffa. Just as with the original Seef location, the menu is primarily Italian, with numerous pasta and risotto dishes, as well as tiramisu and crème brûlée for desserts. But you’ll also find more original, fusion offerings such as our deep-fried favourite the tempura short rib rolls (braised beef with cheese, potato and lots of smokey barbecue flavour). Whether you dine at the contemporary Seef or Riffa branch, you’ll enjoy the food, the service and overall buzzing vibe. You can’t go wrong with home delivery, either.
Everyone loves a pizza, and for years this popular Italian spot in Amwaj Lagoon has scooped top prizes at our annual awards ceremony. A family-friendly eatery, the deal for children is just too good to resist – they can order a pizza or pasta, then get a free appetiser, drink and dessert. Plus, they even have the opportunity to get messy in the kitchen with the chefs and actually make their own pizza. In the meantime, mum and dad can enjoy a range of great signature Pizza Express, dishes, which are renowned all over the world. It's time to dig into the doughballs.
Once a humble, casual Italian eatery, Oliveto has been reborn and transformed into an elegant, stylish restaurant, with sharp, modern décor and an impressive outdoor setting. Its menu is similarly upscale, with a good range of classic Italian as well as more modern dishes, from beetroot risotto to lobster linguine. The execution doesn’t always reflect the quality interiors, but as a destination in itself there’s plenty to recommend. Head here for beverages and nibbles at the very least.
Roma is timelessly romantic. The live singer croons smooth melodies, as you enjoy an evening of well created and authentic Italian cuisine. Fresh flavours and a wide variety of seasonal and simply presented dishes are what you can expect to find here. Bright red décor and intimate seating emphasise the cosy atmosphere, and the staff, who are friendly and knowledgeable, will never intrude on your meal.
Vento has arguably one of the more stunning vantage points of any dining venue in Bahrain, situated as it is by the Four Seasons Bahrain Bay infinity pool, which cascades into the bay. Aptly nautically themed, Vento is bright and cheerful with floor-to-ceiling patio doors that open on to the garden, leading to the pool and bay. Outdoor seating is available and in the cooler weather it would be hard to find a better place to have an al fresco lunch or a casual dinner. Everything tastes great and is served with lots of smiles. However, as far as this type of food goes, it is a bit on the pricey side. Although it's decent, it's probably a better choice for casual diners or in-house hotel guests.