Fine Italian dining in the Sofitel Hotel in Bahrain
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Time Out Says

Admittedly I often enjoy going to an Italian restaurant. Not so much because it’s one of my favourite types of cuisine, but rather because I’m always curious to know how authentic the food is. After having lived in Milan and Rome for a combined total of eight years and travelled widely in Italy as a whole, I think I’m a pretty good judge of bona fide Italian cuisine. I often wonder if sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, for example, can really taste the same in the desert as they do in bella Italia?

It had been a long while since my friend and I had enjoyed the flavours of Italy, and so one Friday evening in September, we decided to head to Fiamma restaurant at Sofitel in Zallaq to assuage our craving.

We were warmly welcomed to Fiamma by a solid team of waiting staff. Everyone did their best to please, yet one or two of the waiters seemed rather tense. This isn’t a criticism, it’s just an aside. A calming colour scheme had been chosen for the restaurant’s decoration; subtle hues of aquamarine and light brown were reflected in the curtains, walls and even the water glasses on the tables.

The layout of the restaurant was curious. Tables were set out in an L-shaped pattern, with those close to the entrance having a good view of a display counter where some colourful pasta was displayed. We opted to sit next to the window; a good choice for us but not for the waiters as we soon discovered; space to navigate round the table to serve our dinner was limited.

Soon we were presented with a menu, and one of the chefs asked if we needed help in understanding what the dishes were. We didn’t, thank you, so continued to browse ourselves. There were no surprises; all the standard Italian fare was there. Diners could choose from an adequate offering of antipasti, soup, pizza, fish, meat, pasta and risotto. Whilst we mulled over our choices, a small basket of bread was brought to us. The focaccia spread with a dab of olive paste was extremely pleasant.

At just the right time, our starters were brought by our waiter, who was still unfailing in his efforts to please. My friend thoroughly enjoyed his insalata caprese; tomato and mozzarella for those that are English speakers only. It was adorned with fresh basil leaves and had already been seasoned with olive oil, a sprinkling of salt and a dash of balsamic vinegar before it left the kitchen. ‘Delicious’ declared my friend. We were both keen to know where Fiamma had sourced this top quality mozzarella from; its consistency was perfect, not at all ‘rubbery’ as is so often the case with mozzarella eaten in foreign lands.

My beef carpaccio with thin slices of Parmesan was equally scrumptious. Better not forget the black pepper, a personal must for me in most of what I eat. Neither of us had ever seen such a tall pepper mill in all our lives, it was at least a metre tall, that’s true, it is not an exaggeration to make this story sound amusing!

Our main courses which followed shortly afterwards were faultless as well. My choice of ossobuco alla milanese, veal in a herb and tomato based sauce, was exactly as I remember from Italy, and my friend’s penne alfredo fully met his expectations. The pasta was cooked al dente, and the sauce was full of strong garlic and cheese flavours – precisely what he had been looking forward to in the car down to Zallaq.

Price-wise, this exquisite dinner certainly wasn’t cheap, but it wasn’t as costly as I had thought. Neither of us had space for a dessert, however, I’m sure that those with an extra sweet tooth would have been very happy at the indulgent offerings in that department.

Food presentation all round was perfect, quantities just right, flavours were authentic, so why were we part of only about four other diners that evening? Oversupply has to be the answer. Not only does Bahrain have numerous restaurants already, it has at least eight decent Italian eateries before we include Fiamma.

The bill (for two)
1x carpaccio BD7.82
1x caprese salad BD7.94
1x ossobuco BD11.39
1x penne alfredo BD6.9
Total (incl charges) BD37.16

By Time Out Bahrain staff  | 26 Sep 2011

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Show number 17 636 414
Manama, Others, 105 Zallaq Highway,Building 2015, Block 1055, Zallaq, Manama 555, Bahrain

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