Sacci reinvigorated - The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa

Sacci, the family friendly Italian restaurant at The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa, has been around for a couple of years now. I enjoyed the fact that it is uncomplicated, reliable but good. One of the elements that has been missing for me on previous visits to Sacci, is probably the lack of a noise in the restaurant. It has never detracted from an enjoyable evening for me, but at the back of my mind I knew it was there. 

The recent visit by Michelin-starred Ron Blaauw signalled a change in the direction Sacci was heading - it added a much needed cool aspect to the restaurant. It was around that time too that I saw the new uniforms at Sacci. More importantly though, the last 9 months saw new Sacci Chef de Cuisine Leonardo Brancati create a new menu. Having tried his dishes when he cooked at BOA, I was, needless to say, excited about trying the new menu. 

The wine list at Sacci is simple, with pricing really guest and pocket-friendly. Expect to pay 160-180AED for some wines. This is normal. Routinely, the cheapest wines at restaurants are around 250AED. Good initiative!

After the soup, I have the Tartar di tonno or Tuna tartar. this dish is why I am excited about Chef Leonardo. He has taken the tuna tartar and added to it another Italian twist - panzanella. The texture that it adds to the tuna makes it different. Fennel purée and Orange dressing bring flavour and freshness to bear on the dish. A must have. 

Value for money is the buzz phrase nowadays and while I was impressed by Sacci reading the market very well when they entered it a few years ago, they continue to get it right. This is clear when I see that they offer a Pasta /Risotto degustation - a choice of three pastas or risotto for 180AED. It is a no brainer. Tremendous value.  It also ties in perfectly with Sacci's sharing concept. My daughter chooses the Fettucine with veal ragus, while I order the Ravioli, stuffed with cod and potatoes. Finally, the trio is completed by the Risotto with porcini mushrooms. 

The Fettucine verdict - my daughter says there is no need for kids to have spaghetti bolognese when there is a dish like this. She laps it up!

The ravioli is delicious as it is bold in its presentation. The ravioli, filled with moist and naturally creamy cod, finds itself on a bed of pea purée with sundried tomatoes and olive powder. It is impossible not to love this dish. This a fantastic dish - one of the best I have had at Sacci. 

Finally, the risotto. It is in a word - hearty. The porcini mushrooms are cooked in a way that leaves them with a lot of bite and texture, while fresh black truffle is used judiciously so as to ensure the highlight of the dish is indeed the porcini mushrooms. But I dare not forget the oysters in the dish - really a dish laden with flavour. 

For my final course, I have the Cernia di Scoglio or Stone bass. Unlike Chilean seabass or cod, it is a naturally drier fish, reminding me of Mediterranean seabass. So, everything else on the dish is important to bring moisture and flavour to the stone bass - the result? Quite a nice dish. Chef has actually cooked it very well, letting it retain its own moisture. Finally, the marinated shallots bring both sweet and sour to the stone bass. Nicely done. 

On the service front, service was always a strength at Sacci. But tonight there is a lack of engagement by one or two servers. Engagement is vital because  Sacci is based on a trattoria concept. Staff need to relax; put themselves out there; smile; laugh. 

Another area that remains an issue for me is the music. They have never been able to get it right and tonight, because of the playlist, there are times I can hear the music and times I cannot. The atmosphere needs to be sustained. 

Finally, dessert completes our evening with our choices representing the past and present of Sacci. I have had the Amedei Cioccolato or Chocolate fondant a couple times before, so feeling nostalgic, I order it while Mitsuki has the Semifreddo. The chocolate fondant is decadent at 72% dark chocolate, but as I felt on previous occasions, it is crying to be set free from the cup that prevents it from running wild on the plate. But the Semifreddo is just a delight. It has everything - the joy of childhood, contrasting flavours, texture and a wonderful lingering taste on the palate. 

Sacci, in summary, has moved on from the restaurant I knew when it launched a few years ago. The checkered tablecloths have made way for placemats. Staff wears more relaxed uniforms. But the heart is still there. Value for money remains a key aspect of the restaurant while Chef Leonardo ensures that the food remains delicious. Value for money means nothing if dishes are not up to standard. So, it is balanced. Sacci positions itself between the high-end restaurants like Villa Toscana and popular entry level restaurants like Preggos to offer an Italian evening that will leave a lot of change in the pocket. 

The Essentials

The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa

+971 2 616 9999

Menu: Sacci Menu

Average price for 2 incl a glass of wine each - 300AED

Brandon Stoltenkamp