Romano’s Macaroni Grill

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Italian delights at the WTC

For those who have not yet ventured into Abu Dhabi’s own World Trade Centre, you have aptly missed the next big thing of the Emirate. The building or rather structure has been beautifully constructed in contemporary style stretching over Hamdan and Khalifa Street. A magnificent foray of international stores with infinitesimal brands line the insides of this place. There’s a dedicated dining floor catering to various cuisines, and we have been intently waiting for the opening of Romano’s Macaroni Grill for some Italian delightful presentations.

So what’s different about the restaurant?
After you have been escorted to your table, you will observe it has been topped with blank chart paper. Your attendant will introduce him/herself by inscribing her name on it with crayons. Feel free to write / draw or even comment upon it.

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Next, somewhere in between the entire staff get together and break into a pleasant song!

It’s simply inadequate for us to get into a restaurant and avoid ordering Calamari Fritti (pictured above) from the menu. We thus indulged ourselves into a generous serving of the crispy snack served crackling hot with tomato salsa.
For main courses, we were recommended pasta Farfalle and Grilled Chicken with spaghetti.

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And of course the Tiramisu, which my sister marveled upon. It was prepared very conventionally,  which made it more hard to resist and we scraped the dish clean in no time.

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Gastronomic Vacation: Mumbai to Goa in a week

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Vacation with my sister has always been a call for adventure, thankfully without mishaps. Having recently quit my job, and taking advantage of my sister’s annual leave from work, we embarked on a short, one week trip around our 2 favorite places in India: Mumbai and Goa. The experience was momentous, and we covered several locations accomplishing thus, a most satisfying itenary. Some of the most poignant moments (including food ofcourse!) have been captured and put up for recommendation:

7 Kitchens, Palladium Hotel: Lunch Buffet

The sole deciding factor between buffet versus a la carte menu, was my appraisal of the ostensible desserts. 7 Kitchens is a renowned fine dining restaurant of the luxurious Palladium Hotel, situated at Worli, adjacent to Phoenix Mall at Lower Parel. The sophistication of the town, and the grand view of the skyline from the Worli Sea Link Bridge is what makes this trip worthwhile. We were greeted by an unprecedented wet spell that day, making our entrance a little less ostentatious than planned, (not that we were celebrities of any sort, but I believe that good hotels deserve a classy walk-in), nevertheless the intricate works and interiors were finely detailed, polished with much assiduity, and elegance. Atleast we had a plausible excuse to use the tersely polished marble bathrooms before settling for lunch. The buffet won hands down, after I observed their dedicated counter for pastries and my two favorites: Opera and Tiramisu.

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Lake View Cafe, Renaissance Hotel:

It was our lazy day, and so we missed brunch! While we entered the restaurant, the staff were carting away the tables and cloches and I managed to see what I had missed, regretfully. Had we made it for the brunch on time, I’m sure we would have enjoyed a most formidable spread. It was almost sunset, so we enjoyed a pasta dish each, followed by coffee. The place is highly recommended for its serene views of the Powai Lake, lawn and surroundings.

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Cidade De Goa Hotel:

Moving over to Goa, I would always recommend the stay at this fabulous hotel that has been my holiday destination for over a decade. It feels like I grew up here, as it has been the place of many family reunions, occasions and celebrations. Like us, there are plenty of Indian expats who are regular guests at the unchangeable hotel. If you manage to reserve during the peak season (we were informed that we had arrived during the wedding season), the costs could be exaggeratedly high, but you get to enjoy several aspects and locales of the hotel, which otherwise remain closed during the reasonably-priced monsoons. Sapiently, I would recommend you take time to discern how to enjoy your trip here. The entire five star resort is located by the beach, facing the shores of Donna Paula (a famous monumental town), with its water sports and beach activities for guests. Several restaurants, catering halls and cafes, indoor and outdoor are widely dispersed throughout the structure. The service is brilliant, and most satisfactory. Very accommodating staff, so to speak that gave us attention to every detail from our check in, special food orders, spa treatments and transport. The entire hotel was active with weddings, corporate conferences and live entertainments, etc. We never had a single prosaic moment during our stay here, and I know I never will have, hopefully for years to come.

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Mumbai International Terminal 2:

The most raved about terminal had just opened doors to us as we arrived in Mumbai, so a week later the place still smelled of fresh paint. A lot of effort, innovation and creative designs and construction by international designers and private investors have contributed to the florid look of Terminal 2 or T2 as it has been named. For all those who were otherwise used to the dingy predecessor, this sight will surely shake your inhibitions. The change is refreshing, remarkable, while several fine dining options as well as fast food courts have made their establishments. I wish I had more time for a fulfilling exploration of the area, and its many dining options, but we were stifled for time, and made it few minutes before boarding. The airport signboards clearly restrict everyone from photography, yet some obstinate few could not control their urge for selfies.

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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

Pizzeria Olivella @ Fotouh Al Khair

Tiramisu @ Pizzeria Olivella

Coffee Liqueur Soaked Fingers surrounded by Mascarpone heaven: The Tiramisu

 

Its been a while since I had Italian cuisine; ever since its opening, Pizzeria Olivella has never failed to seduce your taste buds with flavorsome hits from Italy. This place deserves publicity as everything on the menu is authentic, fresh, generous and economical.

This place is not your regular pizza and pasta destination, but also hosts a variety of Italian main courses, served in gourmet style in a very casual ambiance.

Me and my sister are regulars at this place whenever we have a craving for this cuisine and the place seems to be conveniently located at the Fotouh Al Khair Centre (Marks & Spencer) on the ground floor.

For starters we ordered the freshly baked Garlic Bread drizzled with mozzarella cheese and herbs. The bread is so crisp and warm, you can feel the melting garlic in every morsel.

Garlic Bread @ Pizzeria Olivella

Garlic Bread @ Pizzeria Olivella

For main course, I normally take my ever-favorite: The Seafood Linguine. I can guarantee you that this dish is worth every penny, and wont be found even in a fine dining restaurant. The sauce is not too overwhelming, neither too rich nor floating in grease; there are generous helpings of scallops, mussels, calamari & shrimp, all fresh and cooked to perfection. I was surprised my sister ordered the same as she usually takes to the chicken dishes. Make sure to request for Parmesan cheese to compliment your pasta.

Seafood Linguine @ Pizzeria Olivella

Seafood Linguine @ Pizzeria Olivella

The star of the restaurant, and a must-have for all dessert lovers is the Tiramisu. I’d say: feel guiltless and gulp every helping of this coffee soaked fingers and mascarpone cheese. And I say it again: No one can make Tiramisu this perfect! There were times when we have come to the restaurant solely for this celebrity.

Price for 2 including drinks and beverages: AED 160.00 (Appetizers, main course, desserts, mineral water and coffee).

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C.Taste @ Centro Al Manhal

C. Taste @ Centro Al Manhal

C. Taste @ Centro Al Manhal

A welcoming sight after more than a year! I hate comparisons, but I’d put it frankly: C.Taste @ Centro Al Manhal is a lot better and more welcoming than their branch at Yas Island. The service is more prompt, the service is very accommodating and the choice for food can intimidate their counterpart.

Centro Al Manhal Hotel comes from the line of Rotana Group of Hotels, and is conveniently located on Old Airport Road, right next to Millennium Supermarket and a couple of minutes away from Al Wahdah Mall. The Friday brunch is so popular, that you need to reserve your table atleast a month in advance.

boardThe restaurant is located on the first floor, and parking should not be an issue unless its the rush hour. Customers are welcome to park their vehicles at the Mall too.

To be frank, I found a few of the items reduced from last year. I remember fairly well they kept to ‘brunch’ items which included cereals and fruit. This time round, there were fruits, and a pancake machine with Nutella & some fruit condiments. However, the best relief was the coffee machine, which is also inclusive in the buffet.

The live cooking stations are mostly for roasted meats and hot cooked pastas.

The salad bar was really wide, the spread was good enough for a wholesome lunch. So also were the desserts of fresh fruits, chocolate pastries, mousse and Arabic sweets. The main course stand out was the Thai Crab curry, and next comes the seafood paella. Make sure to take a shot at these dishes if you happen to visit.

Salad Bar @ C.Taste

Salad Bar @ C.Taste

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Desserts @ C.Taste

Desserts @ C.Taste

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The price is AED 99.00 ++ per head and subject to 10% service charge & 6% Tourism Fees.

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mousseAlcohol and hubbly bubbly also available for additional charges.