We’re certainly not short of great Italian restaurants to visit on the island but when a new one comes along we still can’t help but feel excited. The cravings for authentic and hearty, comfort Italian food are hard to beat and it’s high up on most people’s ‘favourite cuisines’ list. On the flip side, there’s nothing worse than badly prepared pastas and pizzas where high quality ingredients is everything.
Luckily, at Art Rotana’s new Italian restaurant Rosso, this is not that case.
There’s nothing pretentious about Rosso. Giant chalkboards with special dishes scribbled across line the walls, as big floor-to-ceiling windows offer a wonderful view of the fountain and infinity pool outside. It’s laid-back, with the air of a humble delicatessen and with a great family-friendly feel to it. On this cool and balmy night, we decide to sit on the terrace by the dancing fountain. Here, every hour, you’re treated to a fun show when the music is amped up, colourful lights come on and numerous spurts of water spring up to ‘dance’ (it’s not so conducive to an intimate conversation, but it is fun). Meanwhile, when all you can hear is the restaurant’s great choice of muted background music, the views of the poolside and beach area are beautiful.
You really feel as though you’re on holiday.
As for the large metal menus, they’re also fun and the dishes are uncomplicated and classic with everything from pizza to pasta to cheese and cured meat boards on the bill. In true Italian style, we decide to share so we start with the wonderfully fried calamari, which is served with creamy tartar and spicy marinara, followed by an excellent grilled prawn dish covered in a rich, flavourful lemon, chilli and garlic sauce.
No trip to any real Italian eatery would be complete without a pizza and so we try the rucola version with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, bocconcini (small mozzarella balls), bresaola and rocket. Cooked in their wood-fired oven, the pizza comes out with perfectly crispy crust, a great base and gooey, oozing cheese. The ingredients are fresh and the flavours are spot on. It’s seriously hard to find fault with.
Then we try a couple of mains, although we soon realise just one may have been enough as the portions are incredibly generous. It’s really geared up to family-style sharing. Yet I opt, all on my own, for the pan-seared sea bream with seafood and cannellini bean stew, which is just a wonderful dish. The fish is cooked to perfection, as is the rest of the seafood – mussels, clams, calamari – and the bean stew has such rich flavour that it’s hard to stop eating even well after I’ve passed my limit. If I had to find a negative, I’d wish for the sea bream to have crispy skin.
Meanwhile, my dining companion tries the Tuscan rotisserie chicken with rosemary, garlic potatoes and broccoli. The chicken is tasty and moist, just as it should be, and the potatoes pack a great garlic punch. Even the broccoli is well seasoned, buttery and al dente. The attention to detail is impressive. After all of this, and thanks to the great portion sizes, we couldn’t possibly manage dessert but we’ll certainly remember to leave room next time we go. And there will definitely be a next time.
The bill (for two) 1 x water (large) BD2.5 1 x calamari BD4.5 1 x grilled prawns BD6 1 x sea bream with seafood and beans casserole BD8.5 1 x Tuscan chicken BD7.5 1 x rucola pizza BD6 Service charge 15% Gov levy 5% Total BD42.263
Time Out Bahrain staffhttp://www.timeoutbahrain.com