Why you should tuck into Friday brunch at Abu Dhabi’s favourite Italian restaurant…

It’s not the flashiest location in Abu Dhabi, but since launching in 2018 Dino’s Bistro Italiano has been stealthily building a robust clientele – and a stellar reputation.

Sitting at the top of TripAdvisor’s list of Abu Dhabi’s Italian eateries, it’s also winner of a 2019 What’s On Award for best Italian restaurant. The marketing team has been successful in getting the word out about Dino’s charms, but the food and service has to be great, to warrant this kind of buzz. And it is.

Friday brunch here is a relaxed, non-buffet affair that’s perfect for a get-together with family or friends. The kids get their own room and even make their own pizzas, too.

Apart from dessert, everything is made fresh to order, and it shows in the flavour. The warm garlic focaccia with a tomato puree to start was divine. And when do you get excited about soup at a brunch? Here, that’s where. We couldn’t pick a favourite from a velvety, earthy mushroom and the white bean, Italian sausage and kale.

There are six starters to choose from and you can have them all (unless you are into gorging, make sure to ask for smaller portions, which we did throughout the meal).

Don’t skip the calamari fritti, which is composed largely of rings encased in a delicate coating, with a creamy tartar sauce for dipping.

And don’t miss the kale and baby spinach, Caesar and buffalo and vine-ripened tomato salads, either.

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The vegetarian pizza was standard, the medium-crust still bearing a crunch under a healthy sprinkling of cheese, but we weren’t fans of the Al salmone variety. Our bad – we just can’t deal with smoked salmon on our pizza.

There were also six mains on offer and we tried those all too. Standouts, predictably, were the pastas: our dining companion, who has lived in Italy, scoffed at the hand-rolled pasta with chicken and mushrooms as “not Italian”, but was won over by the delicate mix of Parmesan cream sauce, spinach and toasted pine nuts. The fettuccine alla bolognese and risotto al funghi in a pomodoro sauce with basil was a hit too.

We were told that one large group takes up residence at this brunch every week, and by the mid-point, most of the seats were taken – a rarity on a Friday afternoon in Abu Dhabi. The service was stellar too. Best of all? This brunch is one of the most reasonable in the city: packages start at Dhs165.

Dino’s Bistro Italiano, Pearl Rotana – Capital Centre, Embassies District, Abu Dhabi. Fridays, 12.30pm to 3.30pm. From Dhs165 to Dhs215. Tel: (02) 307 5551. rotana.com

Images: Provided/Social