Spaccanapoli is an old but firm favourite amongst Abu Dhabi’s residents, situated as it is downtown near the Tourist Club District in the heart of the city. And we think its fan base is going to increase dramatically in the months to come, largely thanks to the talents of their new specialist Italian Chef…

Chef Piero Nogaro has worked in many cuisines in countries around the world, and now brings his experience of working in Michelin-starred restaurants to Abu Dhabi, where he takes the helm of one of the city’s best-loved Italian eateries, Spaccanapoli. As with any good Italian chef, Piero sources only the finest ingredients to form the core of all his dishes, which are both authentic and diverse. “Great food is made with perfect ingredients,” he says. “The variety of high quality and fresh ingredients is very important in Italian cuisine. Italian regional cooking is also diverse because it is influenced by local history, tradition, and climates.

“The same dish can be prepared and made differently in different regions. Don’t be surprised when you see various versions of pizza, risotto, pasta, meat, fish, and cheese in Italy,” Chef Piero adds. However, with so much tough competition in Abu Dhabi, such long-term success for a restaurant can’t only be based on the food.

“A great food is made with perfect ingredients. The variety of high quality and fresh ingredients is very important in Italian cuisine.” Chef Piero Nogaro

There are several other key factors, as Chef Piero explains: “Atmosphere is important, as well as good food, but what really sets us apart is how consistent we are and how much we pay attention to details,” he explains. “We set high standards in every little thing. Every single plate is always carefully inspected before being delivered to the guests. In addition, we have a great team of well-trained, hospitable staff who take very good care of the guests and make them come back again and again.” As if on cue, the hospitable staff brought our first dish, the Seared Scallops, with truffle mashed potato and crispy fried leeks. Scallops are a particular favourite of ours, and we’ve had so many great examples over the years that we’re something of a tough judge. Fortunately, we judged these to be excellent! Melt-in-your-mouth tender and extremely tasty, the truffle mash was incredible.

italian_2

Then came a dish that was a first for us, but apparently very well known in Italy, the Oven Baked Rolled Eggplant Gratin, with mozzarella, Parmesan, tomato sauce and basil. The rolled eggplant is stuffed with the mozzarella and Parmesan, and the flavours are absolutely delicious. Though it sounds complex, the dish is actually very simple, with the individual flavours standing out and complementing each other, which in essence is what the cuisine is all about.
“I prepare Italian food with an Italian heart,” Chef Piero says. “I have great respect for the traditional cooking. To me simplicity, freshness and the perfect combination of seasonings are the key to bringing out the finest taste and true flavours of the cuisine.”

italian_4

This can most certainly be seen in the next dish to arrive, the Oven Cooked Sea Bass Mediterranean Style, with potatoes, Taggiasche olives, caper flowers and cherry tomatoes. Again, the top-notch ingredients combine really well in this simple baked dish to create a succulent and delicious fish course. Next, another favourite of ours, a Mushroom Risotto, with Italian saffron, wild mushrooms and shaved Parmesan, cooked to al dente perfection in a deliciously creamy sauce.

italian_3

And finally, a homemade Tiramisu presented in a simple and classic way, but easily one of the best examples we’ve tried to date – rich, creamy and just enough, but not too much, kick from the coffee flavour. Just exquisite! We were thoroughly impressed by the quality of the dishes we sampled at Spaccanapoli, and there are only bigger and better things planned for the restaurant too. As any lover of Italian food knows, the cuisine goes best with ‘grape beverages’, and knowing this, the venue is introducing an exciting new concept.

italian_5

Chef Piero tells us: “We are preparing for the launch of ‘the cellar by Spaccanapoli’, presenting one of the largest selection of reds and whites in Abu Dhabi. The idea is to create a true ‘cellar’ experience and we hope this will soon be a prime place for enthusiasts in town.” Well, we’re sold…

GO: Visit Spaccanapoli at the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, on Hamdan Street. Call (0)2 6166261 for reservations and more information.