José by Pizarro is bringing a Sevlilleised touch to Abu Dhabi’s cuisine scene…

It’s an early contender, but the fact that Spanish tapas bar, José by Pizarro is opening at Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers in March, might just be the most exciting piece of capital culinary news we’ve heard for 2023.

Given its justly-earned global reputation as a gastronomic great, authentic Iberian cuisine had been relatively under-represented in Abu Dhabi. It’s an era José Pizarro’s new restaurant is aiming to bring to a flamboyant end. And the mains, from Spain will shortly be arriving on the plane.

Casa Conrad

José by Pizarro is on track to open to the public on March 17, operating a six day service schedule (Tuesday to Saturday 5pm to 11:30pm), with an extended 3pm to 10.30pm opening on Sunday.

Known as the “Godfather of Spanish Cuisine”, José Pizarro is making an offer, us as discerning Abu Dhabi diners, would be unwise to refuse. The José Pizarro Group operates a clutch of well-respected restaurants across Europe, serving up (rather appropriately for Abu Dhabi’s recent acquisition of the Michelin Guide) Bib Gourmand-recognised great European plates.

And there’s a strong synergy between Spanish and Arabian food, not least because of shared threads of heritage. As early as the eighth century, Arab settlers have occupied significant swathes of the Iberian mainland, with influences on language, place names, architecture and food — still poetically observable today.

And what is Tapas if not mezze with a sultry Spanish accent?

What’s on the menu?

You’ll be able to share (or not, nobody will tell) such signature José small platery as spicy chicken croquetas, prawn fritters, and potato tortilla. Unconfirmed, but we have all fingers crossed for some form of the top tier tavern tapas item — huevos rotos (broken eggs).

We’ve been told we can expect bigger sharing plates in the key of Spanish red tuna tartare, traditional lamb meatballs, and free-range chicken paella. Then of course we’d be absolutely loco to say adios without sampling José’s famously decadent desserts.

The José by Pizarro sweet selection is set to include chocolate pots with salt and olive oil, homemade Spanish almond tart with figs and custard, and a spectacular cheese selection served with fruits and chutneys.

José Pizarro, Founder of José by Pizarro, says: “I have always wanted to open a restaurant outside of Europe, and launching José by Pizarro really is a dream come true. It is so exciting, both as a businessman and restaurateur, to be able to take my beloved Spanish flavours globally.”

“Abu Dhabi is a place that’s incredibly passionate about great food, art, and culture, and Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers is the most iconic hotel in the city and one of the UAE’s leading culinary destinations. Together, I think we make the perfect match. I look forward to introducing the world to the incredible flavours, spices and aromas of Spanish cuisine, and welcoming everyone to our friendly and vibrant new home in Abu Dhabi very soon.”

Opening March 17 at Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers. Tel: (02) 811 5666

Images: Provided