B ... Easy Italian Restaurant and Lounge (inside Sofitel Hotel) - Abu Dhabi

B ... Easy Italian Restaurant and Lounge is an independent restaurant housed inside the Sofitel Corniche, Abu Dhabi. In a growing trend of independent restaurants coming up, this is the latest. 

I am seated soon after walking in. La Mer, the old seafood restaurant at Sofitel, has given way to this restaurant, but it remains exquisite. The seafood motif still runs through the restaurant. Oversized vase-like structures recalling the sea, shells in the light fixtures and numerous other ornamental features connecting you to the sea are visible throughout. On the surface it seems odd, but when I see the menu that has a very strong seafood angle, it was not out out of place. However, I am also pleased that plans are under way to add an Italian feel to the restaurant, which I think will balance it nicely. I can see it now - An Italian restaurant celebrating the Italian coastlineWith seating for up to 80 guests, it is an intimate restaurant. There is also a lounging area with a small bar, perfect for pre-and post-dinner drinks. 

We start off with an Aperol Spritz, appropriately made with Prosecco. It is a happy, no fuss way to get the evening started, while a song by Zucchero is heard in the background. The music certainly reinforces the contemporary feel of the restaurant. This is emphasised when at some point I hear Giusy Ferreri. 

For starters, we order a tasting  selection of dishes:  La Brushetta and La Burrata di Bufala CampanaLa Piccola Tartare di Tonno ( Tuna tartare) and  L’Insalata di Mare (a seafood salad). 

I switch to a Villa Sandi Prosecco Valdobbiadene for the rest of dinner. Prosecco is growing in popularity, and the wine list at B...Easy gives a wide choice of bubbly. Prosecco, an obvious option for me. I would personally find it odd to have Champagne in an Italian restaurant, notwithstanding the charm of the French bubbles. 

All dishes show something telling about Chef Paolo - he is not heavy handed in his approach to flavours. There is an appreciation for subtlety, and this pleasantly surprises me because he looks so youthful but shows a mature restraint. The bruschetta is all freshness. The buratta sees him make generous use of thin slices of brioche, making for  a very hearty buratta. Balsamic is sparingly used, allowing one really to savour the naturalness of the dish. Having said that, I miss the pesto though. 

I find his interpretation of the tuna tartare very interesting. Rather than having a substantial avocado base, he simply brushes it on the plate, thereby privileging the tuna. Lime, smartly presented, completes the dish. 

For my main course I ask Chef to recommend a dish. He goes slightly off menu with a variation of  Le Linguine al Rag├╣ Espresso di Pesce e Gamberi, and customises it for me by using tagliatelle and tiger prawns instead. Also, the use of calamari and  shrimp is very generous, with large portions punctuating the dish. Again it is the delicate flavours that charm. 

My guest has the Gli spaghetti alla lampara which comprised of shrimps, goat cheese, soy sauce and...cognac. It edges my dish in terms of flavour and creaminess. Highly recommended. 

As I finish my main, I start eyeing the dessert choices. My guest opts for the Tiramisu, while I go with the Chocolate fondant. The Tiriamisu breaks with using lady fingers  fingers and espresso. It is instead rich in mascarpone and has a chocolate-like base. As for the the chcolate fondant, it  satisfies even before I actually taste it, having been subjected to the beautiful, rich aroma up to this point.  55% chocolate ensures that it will have wider appeal than some which use upward of 70%. To balance the sweetness, Chef adds some vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberry. But I am interested only in that chocolate fondant and do not allow myself to be distracted by the ice cream. The chocolate warmly oozes out - perfect. 

To accompany my dessert I have a  Barolo Chinato Michele Chiarlo from the Digestif trolley. It is a perfect way to end the evening. 

Tonight there were one waiter and one waitress. However, the service was never wanting. I was impressed by the attention to little details. Faisal immediately offered to hang my jacket when he saw me take it off. He also offered a chair for my bag that I had brought along. Regularly topping up water, checking on us without disturbing us was the manner of service. The waitress, Leny also added warmth to the evening by engaging us, showing an ability to move beyond the normal banal banter. They both did exceedingly well. 

B ... Easy Italian Restaurant and Lounge is a welcome addition to the Italian dining scene in Abu Dhabi. It is a stylish venue that is toned down by warm staff, making it quite relaxed, as the name of the restaurant suggests. Excellent Italian pop/ rock music contributes so much to the enjoyment of the evening because it breaks any sterility that could seep in because of the fine elements that exist in the restaurant. Whether you are stopping by for a pizza and  a beer or a full-out dinner, this  venue offers something very different and will serve as a great conversation piece the next morning. 

The low down

B ... Easy Italian Restaurant and Lounge
Sofitel Corniche 
Abu Dhabi
971 56 7801016

Starters 50AED-190AED
Mains 80AED-190AED
Pizza 65AED-120AED
Desserts 40AED