Prego's Italian restaurant - Beach Rotana Hotel, Abu Dhabi
|View from my table|
|Indoor seating - light and bright.|
While we wait, our order for an aperitif is brought - my drink for the summer, an Aperol Spritz. Having fallen in love with it a short while ago, I have started making it my drink to get an evening started. Tonight's is perfect. The balance that keeps it fresh is there. On a couple occasions I have had it with too much Prosecco. No concerns this evening. It has that delicate balance. In the outside air, I cannot imagine a more appropriate aperitif.
Tonight I am waited on by a waiter who, unbelievably, has been in Abu Dhabi for around only 4 months. Antonov has a rich story. His parents are Indian, while was born in Oman and has a family with an interest in things Russian! His secret passion - well no longer a secret, is to start a brewery! Seek him out on your visit. He is the kind of waiter who manages to cross over the line that divides the guest and the waiter, but does it so naturally and unobtrusively. Special.
Our dishes are presented. The burrata is, as it should be, a classic rendition. It is almost rustic in presentation. A healthy chunk of burrata lies on a bed of rucola with balsamic reduction. My guest's tuna loin is a winner. Chef has seared it very lightly, leaving a delicious pinkish colour. On its own, it tastes like tuna, unadulterated. The flavours come from the orange marmalade, fresh raspberry and blackberry on the dish. Despite these, the overwhelming feeling is one of subtlety of flavours. Next, our tasting platter of small delights includes Vitello tonnato which is thinly sliced smoked veal belly, tuna mousse and capers, Sundried tomatoes and 1824 Beef tartare - all very small portions. Highly recommended.
While both starters are quite delicate in taste, our tasting platter recommended by Chef is not. We have a small portion of pork cold cuts of Pancetta coppata, Parma ham and Spicy calebrese and Nduja della Sila. A rare treat in Abu Dhabi, it is the perfect accompaniment because of the strong flavours it brings to our starters. The latter, especially, a spicy spreadable of semi-aged pork from the Calabria region, wows.
For my main course, I request the Pepperoncini, an off menu dish that is as simple as you could expect a dish to be: spaghetti, garlic, chili and olive oil. The only thing missing is the explosion of chili I usually enjoy. Meanwhile, my guest orders the Spaghetti ai frutti di mare, a seafood pasta. Both are large portions, underpinning Chef's mantra of abundance. The seafood pasta especially is such an advertisement for that belief: healthy portions of baby octopus, mussels and shrimp stand out in the dish. Finally, that tomato sauce is rich and decadent.
To round of dinner, for dessert I choose from a selection 8 and opt for the White yoghurt parfait, whole meal crumble and warm wild berries. Having tried the tiramisu before, I am thrilled with my choice, for when I try it, the acidity of the berries immediately takes over before the crumble brings a lovely sweetness; but not just that, also a wonderful texture to the dish.
Thus ended my dinner. In the opening I touched on the homeliness of Prego's. I feel I need to qualify that further. It is the kind of place you can just sit back and relax to the nth degree where waiting staff keep the evening relaxed and informal. This was again my experience. Prego's fits nicely into the Italian restaurant market by offering a higher end product in terms of quality of ingredients and service but still keeping things casual.
The bottom line
Beach Rotana, Abu Dhbai
+971 2 697 900
Starters 40-90 Dhs
Mains 77-175 Dhs
Desserts 40-45 Dhs