Reliable Italian fare at Spaccanapoli - Crowne Plaza, Abu Dhabi

It had been about 18 months since I last tried Spaccanapoli,  and as I walked in I realised how little had changed. I have always liked the little bar that seats 4 people. Adjacent, the little library is even more inviting, with its comfy sofa chairs. I start off at the bar with a glass of Valdo Prosecco, an affordable, no-frills Prosecco that serves as a nice aperitif for the evening.

After about twenty minutes at the bar,  I make my way to the dining area. It is a small and narrow space, making for a very cosy atmosphere. There is something very tasteful in the decor, with no jarring colours. It is all soft and inviting.

First up, I try the Tuna tartar. It is a simple dish, despite the presentation which sees ink squid drawn across the plate. Tuna, potato and capers are the main elements in this dish. It is a sensible dish, if not flashy in flavours.

On the other hand, the scallop dish hits a great note; the Seared scallops in truffle mash evoke positivity even before it is placed on the table. As it is brought I remark to my guest that it smells amazing. As for the scallops, they are nicely cooked, with enough moisture to keep me interested. Finally, thanks to crispy leek, there is a delightful texture in this dish and also added flavour with the leek imbued with an almost burned, robust  flavour - very nice.

For my main course, I order the Veal escalope, normally served with wild mushroom sauce, but tonight I forego the latter. Instead, I request a lemon butter sauce. The portion, as is the case with my guest's main course, is huge. The veal is what you would like in a piece of meat like this - tender. Finally, potato gratin, homely in character, by the way, ensure that I get through only half my dish.

For dessert, it has to be Tiramisu of course - a faithful rendering of this dessert is what I end up having. Expect a rich layer of mascarpone and  a generous sprinkling of cocoa powder.

Spaccanapoli proved to be honest and satisfying once again. However, with so many Italian restaurants around innovating and reworking concepts, I would like to see a bit more in terms of refining certain aspects of the restaurant, like the menu. More importantly, I would like  to see the direction it takes as it redefines its identity. In the meantime, you can still enjoy some well-priced dishes, a wine menu that offers a balance between variety and price, and service that has come on significantly since my last visit. 

The Essentials

Crowne Plaza Hotel,
Hamdan Street, Abu Dhabi
Crowne Plaza Dining
+971 2 6166166

3-course Dinner for 2 incl a glass of wine 450AED
Brandon Stoltenkamp

                         Disclaimer: While I was invited by the restaurant, all views are my own.