The Way Mama Used To Make It

Italian food has always sat well with us. Maybe it’s the creamy cheese or the perfectly cooked pasta – either way it hits the spot. We meet the newest culinary talent at ART Rotana Amwaj Islands, Chef Alessandro, who is taking over the kitchen at Rosso to create some lovely delights. He tells us about his move to the island from Canada and why, even after just a month, he already prefers it here…

When you first see Chef Alessandro you know he’s full-bred Italian – he’s got the dark features and the olive skin to prove it. He’s also a proud Italian from Milan but has spent a significant amount of time in Canada – which was his most recent post. Rosso has that Italian rustic charm that instantly invites you in. The menu is written in chalk up on hanging black boards and empty wine bottles decorate the tables – Chef Alessandro looks at home here. He starts by backtracking his years in Canada and what good came of it, having been in Italy for 30 years. “In Canada my life was in the restaurant – it was very intense. There were lots of arguments, but here I have a really great team and so far it’s been so good. People here don’t complain. It was one of the best decisions I made.” Having been here for just over a month, these are big words, but not uncommon for expats – Bahrain just grips you instantly. Working in a restaurant in a hotel is a first for Chef Alessandro, having been in a stand-alone Italian restaurant before, now he is “completing myself” – he says – and low and behold, he has his own restaurant in Italy. The word accomplished is very apt in his case.

So onto our Italian fare. We were told to make room for 10 items – how do you make room for 10 items?! Well, the Italians always know how to take care of their guests. We start off with Tartare Fresh Salmon with Red and Yellow Peppers, Green Onion with Toasted Bread. Super fresh and wonderfully bright in flavour courtesy of the peppers. We then tucked into a creamy Burrata with Rocket and Cherry Tomatoes – no words, just happy feels – it was THAT good. A really special dish (for just being totally different) is the Octopus Carpaccio with Chives and Citronette – the latter brought out an amazing zest in this dish.

For mains we were treated to homemade Linguini with Seafood (mussels, squids, scallops, prawns) and it was hearty and warmed us up nice and good. Chef Alessandro is very much a man of his homemade word. The process of homemade when it comes to Italian cuisine is very much a hand-me-down art. “You learn from your grandmothers and other people and then make it in your own way.” The homemade Beetroot Gnocchi (a dish that has been awarded in the past) with Gorgonzola Sauce, Walnuts and Parsley. The presentation was gorgeous and the flavours hit the right spot. The Vegetarian Pizza was also a hit, with it’s beautiful base and lush toppings – cravings filled!

Chef Alessandro hopes to introduce Sous-vide into the kitchen – a method of
cooking in which food is sealed in airtight plastic bags then placed in a water bath or in a temperature-controlled steam environment for longer than normal cooking times – it’s to ensure the item is cooked evenly. With that, “my culinary philosophy is to try and improve every day and get ideas from everyone – you can always learn something new from people with different cultures.” We look forward to dining at Rosso again. No doubt, we’ll be regulars now!