Located on the second floor of the Amwaj Rotana lies Rosso, an Italian restaurant presenting home-style cooking in a relaxed and inviting ambiance. Now, our previous dining experiences with Rotana properties have generally yielded the same results. Equating to proficient service, good value for money and food that veers somewhere between very good (Finz, Teatro, Waves) and distinctly average (Tamarind, C. Taste, Coopers). So where does Rosso fit into the mix?
Diners are likely to associate the vibrant red hues of Rosso’s dining room with rich sun dried tomatoes. A symbol of Italian cuisine and an ingredient that features predominantly on the menu here. The restaurant space is made up of a large bar, show kitchen and pizza oven. Utensils and machinery associated with Italy (such as a free-standing meat slicer and a Vespa) help add authenticity to the look. A design of concentric circles adds an additional visual factor.
Dining on the terrace would be our preference, with the red theme continuing outside via the use of upholstered cushions and glassware. A natural element creeps in from the grassed floor and the poolside location and ample palm trees, adds an extra level of desirability.
As expected, service at Rosso is friendly (with children especially being well looked after) and the team are well versed in the food and beverage menu. The menu itself focuses on the staples of Italian cuisine and even has the option of pork.
As we watch the sun dip below the ocean waves, we feast on a range of antipasti which includes Frittura di Calamari (crisp fried calamari with tartar sauce), La Burrata di Puglia (a fresh heirloom tomato salad topped with burrata cheese), and Carpaccio di Manzo (Angus beef carpaccio topped with black truffle and Parmesan cheese). All of the antipasti are good, with the creamy burrata being our favourite. There’s something about the contrast between the cool cheese against the acidity of the tomatoes that makes for a powerful flavour profile.
The carpaccio is also hard to beat, with the addition of truffle and sea salt helping to elevate the dish. Although there was a touch too much olive oil for our liking. The calamari suffers from a slight chewiness but the batter is good.
There was a dip in quality when it came to the main courses, perhaps we ordered the wrong thing but when torn between seafood, pasta and pizza, it’s inevitable that indecision will creep in. Our Grigliata Mista di Pesce in Salmoriglio certainly looked the part, with lobster, shrimp and calamari piled high on the plate. Despite a good charred flavour, the texture across all three elements was off, with a chewiness that would indicate over-cooking. The veal escalope meanwhile was a large portion (perhaps some consideration should be given to scaling it back) that was disappointingly soggy and oily.
Sticking with the more traditional pizza and pasta dishes we’re back on track. The simple Gnocchi Sorrentina Bifala e Basilico (gnocchi with tomato, buffalo cheese and fresh basil) is a homely dish of rustic charm with an intense tomato sauce. While the Prosciutto e buffalo is a pizza of thinly sliced pork ham, rocket and buffalo mozzarella, with the pork making all the difference.
When it comes to Italian desserts we’re always drawn to Tiramisu but with two on offer, it made sense to try both (it’s our favourite dessert after all). The tiramisu strikes just the right balance in terms of ratio between mascarpone cream and espresso soaked lady fingers. It’s a fuss free tiramisu that is representative of home cooking and a must try when dining at Rosso’s. Unfortunately we found it difficult to differentiate the Kahlua Tiramisu, which despite offering a Kahlua infused cream amidst almond biscuits, lacked the required strength in flavour.
Rosso’s advantages far outway our disinterest in the main courses. It’s an ideal spot for watching the sunset and the pricing is competative. Stick with the pizzas and pastas and we think you’ll be happy. In the words of Chef Emanuele di Tullio: “Italian Cuisine is hearty and unpretentious. That’s what you can expect at Rosso.”
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves “Buon appetito.”
We were invited to dine at Rosso.. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.