There’s not many restaurants in Abu Dhabi that you see packed out, even on a weekend. It’s fairly common in all but the few most popular places that reservations are not required, but last Thursday night, Roberto’s was packed, and it’s not difficult to see why. 

As a self proclaimed fine dining Italian restaurant it might be hard to know what to expect – this is not your mamma’s usual trattoria. Roberto’s has managed to find a happy medium between a place that offers fine Italian food, and somewhere that has a bit of a party atmosphere, separated by two distinct areas within the vast space the restaurant occupies – the lounge and the dining room.

Opening out onto a sea facing terrace along the Galleria waterfront adds an extra dimension to the dining room, and this is a very satisfying way to make the most of the cooler weather before summer arrives.

In the area farthest from the entrance is the lounge and bar area, and with a rather impressive and colourful DJ booth it’s clear that this is a place that knows how to party! But it’s something that’s managed very well throughout, the music is louder in the bar area to suit the mood, but not so loud so as not be able to hold a conversation. And although there was a definite Thursday night party vibe going on in there, I quickly forgot about it as we were seated for dinner. The mood in the restaurant was still upbeat, but with the music much lower it remained at a level much more suited to dinner conversation (a huge relief as this is all too often not the case in the capital!).

But it wasn’t just any old night for Roberto’s, I’d been invited along to try a special six course menu prepared by three visiting star chefs – Vincenzo Guarino, Executive Chef at the Michelin Starred Pievano restaurant in Tuscany, Simone Fraccassi, Italian Master Butcher and Francois Leo, one of the UAE’s most in demand pastry chefs.

And I was impressed to learn that events such as these are something of a habit at Roberto’s. Every couple of months they invite specialists in their field to the restaurant to showcase their style, but also as a learning exercise for the permanent restaurant staff. I suppose that in a market as competitive as Abu Dhabi that it’s wise for restaurants to look to evolve, keep on top of trends and seek innovative ideas to keep things new, but aside from anything it also helps to keep things fresh for the clientele. It’s certainly nice to know that when eating at Roberto’s that they’re never just resting on their laurels, that there’s plenty going on behind the scenes to keep impressing us!

Six courses is a lot of food, but the portions were well considered so the amount was never too excessive. For me, I really enjoyed the chance to be able to see the chefs in action and to experience dishes from a Michelin star restaurant chef, to see food from a slightly different point of view. And beside the food, it was also wonderful to be in a restaurant with a bit of atmosphere for a change!

The special six course menu was priced at Dhs495 which, all things considered is pretty good value. This is especially true when you look at the fact there were six courses, but also at the calibre of the chefs designing and preparing those courses for us! Wine pairing was also an option for an additional Dhs250 and consisted of one champagne and two different wines to suit particular dishes.

Roberto’s has a number of events running throughout each week: Roberto’s Lounge transforms into a club night each Wednesday with ‘EXIT’, hosting local and international DJs from 10pm to 3am. Tuesdays and Saturdays are live music nights with Jazz and Soul nights from 9pm onwards every Wednesday and Flamenco Fusion band ‘Mosaik’ live every Saturday. Roberto’s also hosts unique events with visiting chefs similar to the one I attended every couple of months.

To find out more and book your place at the next one visit or call 02 627 9009.