I have truly changed the way I look at hotel restaurants. They have changed my perception because so far, most of the restaurants inside the hotels I’ve eaten in have provided good food and great ambiance. I’ve tried Hotel Al Khozama’s Garden Barbecue, Al Faisaliah’s The Globe buffet, and Radisson Blu’s Shogun. Now I return to Al Khozama to try their Italian restaurant, Da Pino.
Charming is the first word that came into my mind when I stepped in Da Pino Restaurant located at the Al Khozama Center. If you’ve been in this centre, the first thing you’ll notice is it’s empty, especially the ground floor. The only activity you’ll hear is the ding of the elevator that takes you to the restaurants. Anyway, Da Pino is one of the best Italian restaurants in Riyadh. A claim to enjoy authentic regional Italian cuisine is at hand. Who am I to refuse? (Even though I have no idea what authentic Italian cuisine tastes like… I haven’t been to Italy!)
|See how small? You’re halfway to the kitchen!|
Da Pino is a small restaurant. It encourages intimate gatherings of family and friends. This is where you’ll be tucked in your own little space and enjoy conversations in between bites of good food. The colors of the place remind me of an outdoor rural setting near a vineyard. The dim, yellowish lighting however didn’t give me enough light to take good photos.
|Ahhh the Italian colors with a dash of sunshiny yellow|
As per almost all our Italian meals in Riyadh, dinner started with bread and butter. I love one of their breads that resembled our very own pan de sal. It’s a bit salty and sweet and with the butter melting into its fold. What a nice opener.
|An assortment of yummy breads|
We also ordered the Calamari Fritti (SR 75), again, another dish so familiar to me that no peculiar execution to this dish can surprise me anymore. While the pieces of squid rings were lightly-seasoned and perfectly-fried, this contained no surprise. It’s just delightfully satisfying. However, I think I wished for more of these.
|There’s something ordinary on this calamares.|
I ordered the Lasagne Fatto in Casa (SR 75), a classic dish with spinach pasta sheets sandwiching meat and cheese in its layers. This pasta is highly-recommended and for good reason! I love how saucy and meaty it is. There’s little embellishment when it comes to this dish. It’s perfectly rich and creamy with the bolognaise sauce rounding all ingredients up nicely.
|Uhmn no, that’s not a pizza.|
|Underneath is the gooey pasta! It’s almost a sin to destroy the top cheesy crust.|
The star of the night belongs to my friend’s Cotoletta Milanese (SR 135), a dish of veal escalope accompanied by baked potato. The meat is so tender; it almost has the consistency of chicken! Granted that the thinning of the veal made it more tender and cooked with less moisture loss, it’s still an incredible feat to have this juicy, flavorful dish that is absolutely lip-smacking! The sauce, while liberally poured, has a sublime yet luxe taste. I’ve told my friend I wanted to steal her dish because it was so good!
|Can you be mine?|
|Seriously, you’re veal?! So tender like chicken!|
The dishes are good for sharing. Except the veal escalope… keep that to yourself! Haha! Check out Da Pino’s menu here. Their lunch and dinner are ala carte but they have a live pasta station where you can choose your own kind of freshly-made pasta and sauces from Tuesday to Thursday.
Now, I’m truly a believer that hotel restaurants can be true to their word of high-quality food and top-notch service. They’re still expensive but for quite good reasons. That’s why, I’m suggesting you dine in these places on special occasions unless you want to dine here every day then I’m not stopping you also. Buon appetito!
Da Pino Italian RestaurantAl Khozama CenterOlaya Street,Riyadh, Saudi ArabiaT: +966-11-273-2222Twitter: @al_khozama