Abu Dhabi: The first thing that caught my eye as I stepped into Italian restaurant Buca di Beppo at Yas Mall was the hall of fame. It boasts pictures of celebrities like Sofia Loren, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eva Longoria enjoying their meals at the chain’s US outlets. The place also overlooks the beautiful fountains at Cascade Dining where the restaurant is situated.
Although Buca di Beppo serves authentic Italian cuisine, it’s actually an American franchise. The moniker loosely translates as ‘Joe’s basement’: the founder was an Italian immigrant called Joe who launched the eatery in the basement of a Minneapolis apartment building in 1993.
I started off with a minestrone soup which had fresh vegetables in a thick tomato base. For the entrée, I sampled the risotto con salmone, from the limited edition risotto menu, which runs through summer. The soft rice with a hint of herbs was paired perfectly with the seared salmon and topped with mascarpone cheese and Alfredo sauce.
My craving for a real Italian pizza was fulfilled when the gourmet chicken pizza arrived at my table. It had a crispy thin crust and smooth white sauce, with tossed tomatoes and grilled chicken.
The baked ziti (pasta) with rosa sauce and ricotta cheese was another traditional Italian delight.
The place has a wide selection of drinks including mojitos, mixed lemonades and fruit juices to complement your meal.
Over-estimating my sweet tooth and undermining the portion size, I ordered a brownie sundae and a double chocolate cake for dessert.
The sundae had decadent chunks of freshly baked brownies with scoops of vanilla and chocolate ice cream. The cake was large but when you took a spoonful, it was super moist and melted with chocolaty goodness.
If you want to enjoy Italian hospitality at its best, this is the place.
Meal for two: Dh 200
Where: Cascade Dining, Yas Mall
Timing: 10am to 11pm