Italian at Sacci - The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa

 A few Weeks ago I attended the launch of Sacci, the latest Italian offering in Abu Dhabi at the Westin Golf Resort & Spa. With so many Italian restaurants in the city, I think it is important that a restaurant has its identity. It cannot be all things to all people. There should be an honesty and integrity about the place, making guests feel they are in an establishment that has character. That was my feeling that night - I felt that Sacci knew what it wanted to be. This night, though, is a chance to properly try the menu and see if that character I perceived last time, is authentic.

A functional and cosy bar area.

Simple and homely
We decide on three starters to share: the Burratina, Caprese and Carpaccio. The Caprese is a wonderful start to the evening.  A chunk of buffalo mozzarella is perched on top of Sicilian datterino tomatoes and marinated grilled eggplant. I love the variation here on a classic salad. The 12 year old balsamic brings just the right level of sour-sweetness  to bear on the dish. Furthermore, a bit of rucola and mint bring an unexpected dash of flavours to this starter.  
As for the burrata, it is what you want from fine burrata - indulgent creaminess as you slice into it and  a not too severe contrast between the surface and the inside.  The burrata, from a  small town in Bari, does not disappoint. The tomatoes are just heavenly, with the San Marzano ones, obviously, the high point. The dish itself is just simplicity in its presentation, allowing you to focus on the taste of the burrata, tomatoes and olive oil. 


Finally, the Carpaccio completes a glorious choice of salads and antipasti. It is perfectly sliced and adorned with a generous amount of rocket, some beetroot and radish, nicely pickled to lend  a tart element to it. The tiny strips of pecorrino add a light saltiness that stems from it. 

My accompanying drink, meanwhile, turns out to be well recommended. Unlike the Villa Sandi, the Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco is drier and a delight in its own right. Very fine with small bubbles, a good choice indeed! I like the wine list. Extensive and reasonable. Also recommended is the Sacci range of cocktails!

The service at Sacci is pitched at the right level. They seem to have found, in a  very short space of time,  a level of service that suits the restaurant. When you position yourself in the niche that they have, staff are familiar without being unprofessional. Chatty but not casual. Balanced. Read my previous post on Sacci at the their launch here:
Kids' size pasta
For my main course I order the ravioli. I like what Chef Stefano has done with it. It is filled with ricotta and spinach and it is covered in a smooth and creamy butternut pumpkin mix. I love it. The ravioli, cooked my preferred way, al dente, is just perfect. There is of course  a natural sweetness in butternut and pumpkin and this is beautifully juxtaposed with the ricotta.  I also try the margherita pizza. The base makes it for me. Just the right degree of crispiness, not too doughy and no oil that has saturated it. 

At this point I recognize one of Sacci's major strengths, and this is where Chef Stefano plays such an important role. When you meet him, he comes across as very down to earth, quiet and  a man of few words. He does not try to do anything elaborate with the dishes. Simple food simply presented but high on a homely taste. Character.

I am torn regarding dessert. Having tried the tiramisu before, I know I would like to break new ground and have something different. On the other hand, I would like to try the tiramisu again. Solution - something new and old. 

The tiramisu, like the last time, confirms Chef's take on it - this is not about the infusion of coffee that one usually associates with tiramisu. For me, the Tiramisu here is about the mascarpone cream. Decadent and indulgent. The texture is provided by biscotti and the granules of dark chocolate on the surface. Finally, I try the Cannoli Siciliana. Lemon. Lemon cream and lemon sorbet make this a special dessert because I find it more sour than sweet. Orange zest adds a bit more sourness, this time to the ricotta inside the cannoli. Highly recommended for  a more mature palate. 

In the end, Sacci proved what I suspected when I attended its launch - it is out to serve classic Italian dishes in a very understated setting, where food and service take centre stage. And it succeeded. It is a welcome boost to a part of the city that has been crying out for some quality Italian, and it has arrived now. Great prices, food and service at the beautiful Westin will leave you wondering why you are going elsewhere to numerous overpriced venues. 

The essentials

The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa
02 616 9999

Starters 45-120 Dhs
Mains 65-340 Dhs
Desserts 25-85 Dhs

                                         Pictures thanks to Nokia Creative Studio on my Nokia 1520
Brandon Stoltenkamp