Abu Dhabi's growing Italian dining scene - Dino's Bistro Italiano at Pearl Rotana

Relaxed. Well priced and value for money. These are buzz words in restaurants these days. These are of course relative concepts. I had the chance to see to what extent it is true of Dino's Bistro Italiano, the latest Italian restaurant to join the fray in Abu Dhabi. It is part of an exciting F&B offering at Pearl Rotana, the newish 4* property in the ADNEC region. After my visit, a few thoughts remained planted in my head.

1. Creating something unique within a corporate identity.

The Rotana brand is arguably the strongest hotel brand in this region and in Abu Dhabi, it has 3 Italian restaurants under that label. There is a corporate menu with individual restaurants given the freedom to express themselves to some extent and create its own identity. One of Dino's major departures from the corporate menu is pricing. The most expensive dish on the menu is 148AED, so when I say the restaurant is indeed affordable, it is backed up by this. I also like the bar and with its funky colourful motif that recalls the Italian flag - in fact, this is maintained throughout the restaurant - it feels like a nice place to sit and a have drink. Make sure to try the Italian inspired cocktails, Gin themed drinks or as I did, a  more traditional Old fashioned. 

Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco - it is perhaps worth spending a little more and having this. It is a beautiful Prosecco. 

2. The Menu and dishes

The Charcuterie board! While the restaurant does not have a pork licence, I was still thrilled to try this. The great thing about it is it works so well if you are feeling peckish and not in the mood for a full, heavy carb loaded meal. While there are set boards on the menu, have yours personalised by talking to Chef about what you like.  In the end, my selection of cheese and cold cuts was perfect. I also enjoyed the stuffed bell peppers and caramelised onions. 

We then tried the Frutti di mare pasta, with chunks of lobster making for a rather enjoyable pasta dish. At 80AED, this is the cheapest seafood pasta including lobster that you are likely to find at a licensed Italian restaurant in the city. Finally, I think you will be happy with the portion size too. Finally,  we had the Pizza Locale, a shawarma pizza and the Brasaola e Wild Rucola - both of these are worth having again. Expect a mildly fiery bresaola and the Locale pizza offering exactly that -  something that evokes a shawarma taste. 

3. The value of a Chef who is larger than life

Sous Chef Roahana Hewamannage has that presence that makes him a wow factor in the restaurant. In Rotana's Italian restaurants creating a unique identity, I feel people will be key. It was hard to believe that I met Chef for the first time that night. There is a genuine sincerity about him as he talks about his menu and as I probed deeper, found him to be a real human being who wears his heart on his sleeve. He is someone that can be trusted and when there is that relationship between the guest and the chef, the guest will come back. People and not ingredients, are what inspire loyalty. Chef has assembled a team of chefs overseeing the Pasts and Pizza station as well as the Salad bar. I suggest you leave your seat and interact with them. 

4. Ambience

Dino's  is one of few Italian restaurants I have tried in the city where they get the music right - Italian pop rock music. Artists like Ligabue ad Irene Grandi set the tone for an evening where I feel the music playlist was absolutely spot on and in tune, pun intended, with the ambience the restaurant is setting out to create. Finally, the restaurant works as much for families as it does for a couple or a single person wanting a night out in a warm and cosy restaurant; the restaurant's occupancy  is under 100.

Chef Rohana - that big smile goes deep down. 


It is hard not to like this restaurant. The pricing is very sensible, both for the market right now and also because it is housed in a 4* hotel.  The restaurant has an experienced chef who has been in Italian restaurants for about 17 years in total  and I joked with him and said he is virtually Italian by Abu Dhabi standards! Having a chef who connects with guests and actually enjoys people. On the service front, they have come up with a  a small team of waiting staff who are eager to please but are not obsequious. Overall, I think you will be very satisfied with a visit to Dino's Bistro Italiano! Again and again. 

Dino's Bistro Italiano
Pearl Rotana Hotel
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 307 5555

Average price for 2 including 2 starters, 2 shared main courses and a glass of wine each - 330AED

Brandon Stoltenkamp