Russo’s New York Pizzeria

Pizza. Pasta. Tiramisu

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This would be my standard definition for typical Italian cuisine, and very rarely does a restaurant manage to surpass this combination amongst the existing Italian dining options in the city.

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A month ago I had been awestruck by the sheer size of a pizza being delivered from this restaurant, in a fairly gigantic box right across myself and a group of friends after having enjoyed a movie. The size did arouse my curiosity then, and after a great vacation this was the first restaurant I had to try. As seen before, Russo’s New York Pizzeria is all about sheer size! The gigantic masterpiece I was referring to is a 28″ pizza, with topping options catering to all kinds of preferences.

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The restaurant is part of the Gourmet Republic food plaza located in the extension of Al Wahdah Mall, and true to its promise, this place does not fail to seduce. The staff are very friendly and prompt in assisting with your seating and orders. The tables by the window offer you a view of the Al Wahdah Football lawns and stadium, a good entertainment seat if there were a match in progress for the sports connoisseurs.

Coming straight to the order, we selected Pesto Chicken Pizza (gluten free options also available), along with a fabulous Shrimp Tortellini Pasta. If it hadn’t been for just the two of us at the pizzeria that day, I would have loved to try several picks from their great menu options, but perhaps I’d have to save it for another definite visit.

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We were well attended to, and service was impressively prompt. Complimentary bread with pesto and tomato dips were also served. The food was profoundly delicious, and attendees made sure our order was satisfactory and enjoyable. I trust my pictures are ostensible enough for your judgement.

As always, the Italian trilogy is never complete without the Tiramisu, which was a delightful combination of mascarpone cheese and coffee dipped fingers. (Yet again) we were offered a generous portion, good enough to be shared by 4 persons. One doesn’t need to go too far in Abu Dhabi for worthwhile Italian cuisine, when it’s right at the heart of the city.

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While you enjoy the dining experience, do take a good look around the restaurant with it’s graceful lamp shades and pictures of New York and Italy that ornate the walls. My compliments to the efficient staff for making our experiences always momentous and looking forward to more visits soon.

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Branches also located at Dubai (Jumeirah Centre) and Sharjah (Sahara Centre Extension).

Cost of Pizza (Medium) – AED 55

Cost of Pasta – AED 55

Tiramisu – AED 28

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Gym Monsters

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Years ago after I graduated, I had a good figure…the ideal 36-28-36 type. No…I wasn’t popular nor sexy as I was in my very boyish punk phase. So people hardly remember the good ‘ol body I used to have. Plus it was a very brief period of my life. Soon work happened…sitting for hours in front of a PC happened…coffee breaks with cream donuts and chocolate croissants happened, and soon again I needed to buy new work trousers and baggy jeans. The punk phase was soon replaced by hide-your-curves-with-your-jacket phase, and I thanked God for winters. It took me years to discover that I had a weakness for suppressing ┬ástress with food, which explained the big water balloon in between while I walked. Four years of work changed me into something overtly huge, that I remember the receptionist once asking me if I could see my toes. Somehow, I refused to admit that I needed help. For my 24th birthday, a colleague gifted me with a black cotton buttoned jacket, which she explained I should wear often, as black had this ‘hypnotizing’ effect of concealing curves in women. Within few months, the buttons wouldn’t catch up with a good five inch gap. My colleague finally gave me a warning tap, “Its time”.

Gym wasn’t so bad actually. Just that I could barely afford it, so I took a basic bronze plan, and since it was conveniently located opposite my residence, attendance was regular. My trainer was thankfully a cool and motivating muscled dude, and made sure I got my exercise and diet regime right. Six months forward, I lost enough weight to wear a belt with my jeans and to ditch the jacket. I still wasn’t my ideal weight though. I stopped the gym, and walked atleast 2 hours after work to replace the mechanical reps.

5 years on, walking did not seem to help, so my best friend gave me a rather surprising birthday present – a year’s membership at the newly opened Gold’s Gym at Al Wahdah Mall. I was to join immediately, and the package included 4 free trainer ‘sessions’. The gym is a mega outlet located in the extension of the mall on the second floor. The reception desk divides the area into male and female sectors on each end. What impressed me most was its sheer size, and insane number of treadmills, cycles, dumbells, machines, mirrors, washrooms and shower rooms, lockers, and for the first time I had unlimited access to all kinds of classes: zumba, body pump, body tone, yoga, etc. What depressed me was the intimidation I received which took effect as soon as I entered. The reception was quiet hostile, and kept me waiting for atleast 30 minutes for a trainer. No one showed me around the locker room so I had to figure the locking system myself. Finally when the plump trainer showed up, she hurriedly took down notes and poured out a list of commandments: You shall not eat after 6 p.m., you shall not eat rice, you shall not…etc etc. She squealed at the weighing scale and nodded that I needed to lose a good 15 kgs, it was more like she was accusing me of a ghastly crime and I was sentenced to the treadmill at once. For the past 5 years, I enjoyed the outdoor exercises- the fresh air, sights, sounds, sweat. The treadmill felt so artificial – so mechanical, and most of all no sweat. I definitely did not want to see the trainer’s face again.

Next my best friend suggested I join the classes. I did. It was a huge class with more than 50 participants, surprisingly and intimidatingly all in shape. The instructor was blaring rep numbers on the microphone against the backdrop of already blaring high pitched music while the monkeys just followed their leader. Gosh, how can one expect to unwind from a stressful day’s work in such a mind-disturbing environment? No wonder so many expats suffer from high blood pressure. The workouts definitely brought out the worst in me: lack of concentration at work, stress, temper tantrums, mood swings and irritation. Plus after 3 months of exercises there has been no change in my weight. The negativity of the place has affected me so bad, I hate to go to the mall anymore. This is the first time I’ve had such a bad bout of aversion to something, it surprises my best friend, who isn’t too pleased about my appreciation for his birthday present. I’m reminded of the kid who’s afraid of the monsters under his bed. What should I do? There have been times when I have simply sat in the locker room and wept for 2 hours and then walked back home. Should I quit? What would my best friend feel if I did? Should I play along? Should I slap the loud mouthed instructor? Should I break a machine? Should I starve? I’d do anything for my share of sanity right now.

The Noodle House: Menu Change

I’ve blogged before about my experience at the popular Noodle House, and there seems to be an announcement for all fans starting from today!

I was at the Noodle House last weekend as my sister had the usual appetite for Salt & Pepper Calamari, and while there, the attendants informed us of the menu change. The new additions can be view on their website: The Noodle House and is available for take away and delivery as well.

What’s more is the welcome addition of cooked rice to some of the main course dishes, so make sure to try these at your nearest outlet.

Thai Curry Laksa with Chicken & Shrimps @ The Noodle House

Thai Curry Laksa with Chicken & Shrimps @ The Noodle House

Thai Cashew Chicken @ The Noodle House

Thai Cashew Chicken @ The Noodle House

Nasi Goreng with Chicken Satay @ The Noodle House

Nasi Goreng with Chicken Satay @ The Noodle House

Salt & Pepper Calamari @ The Noodle House

Salt & Pepper Calamari @ The Noodle House

Outlet branches in Abu Dhabi located at:

Al Wahdah Mall: Ground Floor besides Costa Cafe

Souk Qaryat Al Beri: First Floor (Indoor and Outdoor sea view seating).

Paul @ Al Wahdah Mall

Tartelette du Chocolat

Tartelette du Chocolat

As usual after a good dinner and feeling very down about being at the end of a weekend, I looked for Opera Cake, but could not find one so easily. I dropped over at Paul – The restaurant at the entrance of Al Wahdah Mall, first seen on the left. Thinking it would be a classic french restaurant (I’ve been to the original store at Madeleine Street, Paris), I was a little disappointed to find there wasn’t any there. However, the other cakes did manage to seduce me and my sister, and I promptly ordered for a chocolate layered cake, while my sister ordered for a Mille-Feuille pastry (my french is bad and I had trouble trying to tell the waiter what I wanted from the pastry showcase).

Mille-Feuille

Mille-Feuille

The Mille-Feuille was sweet, suited my sister’s tastes buds I believe, and the wafers were crispy and perfect. Make sure to cut out good squares at first, or it may turn out too messy once the cream filling oozes out. I, on the other hand prefer dark chocolate, and my pastry had the right number of its layers topped by perfectly velvet dark ganache. Absolutely delightful with a cup of your favorite coffee.

Paul has a lot to offer, as we browsed through the menu for appetizers, soups and main course, however this is typical bustling french cafe is located right at the entrance and hence the ambiance is forever busy with entrants and departing shoppers. In my opinion, a little too noisy for the quiet sipping solo reader. Nevertheless, the service is good, staff is friendly, and taste deserves full marks.

Dome Cafe @ Al Wahdah Mall

Grilled Hamour Fillet in Cream Sauce

Grilled Hamour Fillet in Cream Sauce @ Dome Cafe

What’s stylish, delicious and economical? If you feeling like you want to binge on some classy food, and at the same time you seem tight on your budget then visit your nearest Dome Cafe which is located in 2 malls – Khalidiyah Mall (over looking the Khalidiyah Street), and Al Wahdah Mall (no scenic seating, but still enjoyable). They have daily specials, make sure to try the dishes from the Hot Kitchen Menu. They also serve breakfast, beverages, cocktails and desserts.

Chicken Supreme @ Dome Cafe

Chicken Supreme @ Dome Cafe

Price for two people: 2 Main Courses + 2 Soft Drinks + 1 Small Mineral Water – AED 75.00