For a true taste of ‘the old country’ Melissa Nazareth headed to the recently reopened La Pergola at the Gulf Hotel Bahrain, a venue that’s always been a FACT favourite.
Each time you enter the Gulf Hotel Bahrain Convention & Spa, you feel a sense of pride to be standing in such an iconic place. Established in 1969, the hotel represents everything Bahraini hospitality and luxury stand for.
The restaurant’s blue and white interior was welcoming, aesthetically appealing and soothing to the eyes. While the space was well-lit, it had shutter-style windows, which allowed natural lighting to brighten up the whole place. The wooden floors and other details like wooden panels on the wall extending to the ceiling, looked elegant.
We recommend you dine here at leisure or for an extended business lunch or dinner because you will need a lot of time to experience the many flavours of Italy. We started with homemade grissini, focaccia and Tuscan bread. These were served with a side of butter and freshly made tapenade, as well as olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Our appetisers were Insalata Caprese con Mozzarella di Bufala, an immaculately plated dish exhibiting the colours of the Italian flag. The pungent wild rucola leaves worked beautifully with the creamy mozzarella. The tartness of marinated cherry tomatoes and balsamic vinegar reduction complemented these well. The second appetiser was Gamberoni al Profumo di Agrumi. Served in a purple cabbage leaf bowl, it was a baked shrimp and wild rucola salad with herbs and a citrus fruit reduction. The shrimps were cooked perfectly, and their sweetness was well-balanced with the pungent rucola leaves. The citrusy dressing gave it a certain freshness, perfect for a summer antipasti.
While we waited on the next course, we were served some refreshing beverages. I had the Mixed Berry Mojito, which was a beautiful purple drink with fresh berries, mint, lime and sparkling water. The tartness of the berries and the fizz of the sparkling water helped, as Italian food is usually rich. We also tried the Sicilian Passion and Casa Colada, we recommend these for those who prefer sweeter drinks.
You cannot imagine an Italian meal without pizza and pasta. We tucked into the La Pergola pizza with its interesting topping combination of beef pepperoni and broccoli. You would think that the two don’t go together, but they do. The broccoli offered texture and didn’t interfere with the salty, meaty flavours of the pepperoni. They came on an authentic thin crust with the perfect ratio of bread to cheese to sauce to toppings that simply works.
After this, we were served the restaurant’s bestseller, the Linguine ai Frutti di Mare, a seafood pasta dish made with linguine pasta and the ‘fruits of the sea’: calamari, clams, shrimps and more, along with cherry tomatoes and basil. You can smell Tuscany in this seafood lover’s delight. The linguine offered a bite and was sturdy enough to match up to the textures of the seafood.
We tried chicken and fish dishes for our main course. Pollo alla Crema di Porri e Paprika Dolce is the best Italian chicken dish I’ve ever eaten. The elements in the recipe – baked corn-fed chicken breast, braised endive, paprika and creamy potato – worked harmoniously. It is a simple dish, but not simplistic because the ingredients are skillfully put together.
The Salmone allo Zafferano su Spinaci Novella combined the subtle flavours of saffron in a light, creamy sauce with the mild, delicate taste of the salmon. Even the coral hue of the fish sat perfectly against the lemony yellow of the sauce. The other elements on the plate were a baked purple potato, fried saffron risotto and aged garlic that we understand complements the flavours of the sauce. There was a side of baby spinach with toasted pine nuts too. The colours on this dish made it look like an artist’s masterpiece, only better.
We ended the meal on a sweet note with Semifreddo alla Vaniglia con Crema di Cioccolato Caldo alle Nocciole, which was a vanilla parfait with gianduia hot chocolate. Its nutty flavours complemented the chocolate, making it as much a delight to eat as it was to watch the server pour the hot chocolate – elegant showmanship befitting for a dessert like this. We also had the Spumone ai Frutti di Bosco, a mascarpone mousse that was light and airy, with wild berries and biscotti. The tartness of the berries balanced the sweetness of the mousse, and the biscotti added texture. We were surprised with yet another chef’s special, a chocolate dessert made with cream custard and hazelnut sauce, accompanied on the side with vanilla ice cream. Safe to say, La Pergola knows how to indulge its guests. ✤
GO: CALL 1771 3000 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR TO MAKE A RESERVATION.