It’s been quite a while since we’ve published a new entry. We’re just looking for more topics that will get your interest. Haha! Excuses! Okay we went on hiatus for a week or so but we’re guessing we’ve more than made up for it in our Facebook posts on Sale Alerts. Are we right or are we right? Haha! Okay, let’s just dive into another restaurant and food topic right now.
I thought we’ve written about Nino, the Italian fusion restaurant in Tahlia Street that is popular among locals and expats. A favorite of R and her mom too (especially their salads). Well, we haven’t written an entry on Nino. Realizations in The Pink Tarha life. Pffft. So it’s a good thing that I went and ate in the restaurant with friends over the eid holiday because I got to refresh my taste buds with their take on contemporary Italian food. Brought to us by the Kharafi Global Restaurant Group, Nino has unique recipes that are mouthwatering and delicious. This restaurant has branches in Kuwait and Bahrain also (I saw their branch in Bahrain when we were eating in Lilou). And the last time I went to Nino in Tahlia, it was still the sole branch in Riyadh but now, it has also a branch in Exit 5, dubbed as the new “Tahlia” nowadays.
It’s been a looong time since I ate in Nino but I can still remember their California Roll because instead of using the usual nori wrapper, a green thin layer enveloped the rice and seafood. It’s unique so it got ingrained in my
stomach brain. The waiter said it’s made from vegetable (not sure if that’s true). It’s pretty interesting to look at and it’s quite delicious too. I ordered the Prawn Katsu Roll this time. It’s good and there’s a lot of pieces for its price. (Somemaki rolls go for SR 30 for 3 pieces in some Jap restos.)
Another revelation is their Zuppa De Funghi aka mushroom soup. I’m not fond of having soups in restaurants because I’d rather eat main courses that get full from the soup. This soup is the order of my friend but the waiter had the soup divided into two bowls so I got to taste it and boy was I glad I did because this is appetizing and delectable. We can taste that the mushroom was freshly prepared. The soup was creamy and warm and just the perfect start to our dinner. It’s soooo good!
We also got a side of the Truffle Parmesan Skinny Fries which is a delight to eat! I’ve never enjoyed fries this good in Riyadh. Sometimes, when restaurant say “turffle”, it just sounds fancy but you can’t really taste the difference on truffle fries with any other fries but in the case of Nino’s truffle fries, the flavor really shone through and I couldn’t help but think we’re eating something so precious. Haha! And because it’s skinny, it’s like eating without the guilt factor of eating regular-sized fries. Haha! (Who am I kidding?)
We also ordered the Calamari de Nino for starters. One ring and I already wanted to ask the waiter to deliver the Buffalo Chicken Wrappers he so raved about as their bestseller. We didn’t listen to him and ordered the fried squid rings instead. The Calamari wasn’t that great. It has a tinge of sourness from some lemons and that didn’t work out well for my tastebuds. The squid rings are also too small that I can’t really get enough flavors out of it. The taste of the roasted garlic aioli and the calabrese chilli also got in the way too much. I didn’t enjoy this dish.
I’ve read good reviews on their pasta and I remember I enjoyed their Ravioli before but I scanned the menu and found a main course that already has a pasta with it so we went for the Pollo Al Tartufo, a dish that has a piece of chicken pan-fried in butter, herbs, wild mushroom, and black truffle. It was with a simple pasta that’s best eaten with the sauce that the chicken came with. This dish was really creamy and flavorful. It looked like a mess on the plate but we ignored the presentation and dove into the tender chicken and thin pasta. A bit expensive for a chicken dish but the portion was hefty and can definitely be shared.
Another bestselling dish that I had before and ordered again is the Beef Medallions. Three beef tenderloin pan fried in butter (they like their butter here) came atop potato puree. This is one of my favorite dishes here (although I haven’t had a lot from their menu). The beef is tender and juicy, the potato puree is not cloying, and the mushroom sauce was just right. It complemented the meat and potatoes and didn’t overwhelm our palate. It’s eating steak with the sides incorporated. And they were all harmonious in this plate. Haha! The portion is also generous and good for sharing.
We also had some mocktails to go with our food. A friend had the Mimosa Sunrise which is a bubbly drink of strawberry lime, and mint. The colors of course are reminiscent of a sunset with its pink and orange hues. I had the passionately named Sweet Surrender which is a mix of passion fruit, mint, sugar, and pineapple juice. It was refreshing but me surrendering to this drink? Uhmn try harder. Haha! Their mocktails are good but if you check the price and the drinks you’re getting, uhmn water please! Haha!
While eating in Nino, I remembered why I haven’t been back in the place for the longest time. The place was crowded and it got a bit rowdy, noisy, and untidy. When we first went to Nino a few years back, the area was divided into two: the closed booths and the open tables (it still is now). We opted for the open tables and we saw from our table that the floor of the closed booths were dirty. There were crumpled tissues and straw papers littered around. The tables and booths weren’t cleaned immediately. It’s not as untidy as before but I felt like the place still has that unorganized vibe to it. As a matter of fact, my friend saw a small insect in our table while we were starting to order. We caught the attention of one of the waiters and told him about it. He did apologize but this is a restaurant and being spic and span is a matter of priority. I also don’t like the design of their table top because it has a design that looked like strewn hair, or scratches, or thin pencil doodles that makes me cringe and don’t want to eat there. Thankfully, they have a sleek black and white icon design paper that serves as their place mats and covers the table.
Those experiences are in the Tahlia Street branch. We were told that the other is nicer so we’ll probably try visiting that next time. After all, the food in Nino is widely regarded as good. They have more hits than misses so that’s a good thing. They have a variety of cuisines present in their menu so if someone in the group wants to eat Japanese, then they have the maki rolls. If someone wants to have Arabic food then they have Chicken Livers that remind us of a popular breakfast street food. For the vegetarians, there’s the Vegetariana Pizza (aptly named). They also have burgers which I’m pretty sure is not Italian in nature. And for those who are on a diet? They have Spa Food! When I read this in the menu first, I thought they made a mistake and meant to type “Seafood” hahaha! Turned out they really meant Spa Food which is a selection of specially-formulated main courses designed for those who are watching their weight and for those who might have allergies to nuts, gluten and dairy. Some Spa Food meals include Harissa Chicken and Quinoa and Light Pasta. This is a good option that Nino placed in their menu.
Another good thing about Nino is their delivery options. We don’t have to go to their restaurants to eat Nino meals. They’re available for home delivery via Hellofood.com and Talabat.com. That’s convenient! They also do catering for events. That’s a versatile Nino for you. 😉
a. Prince Mohamed Bin Abdul Aziz St. (Tahlia St.) [MAP]
b. King Abdul Aziz Road (Exit 5) [MAP]
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Operating Hours: 1:00PM – 12:00MN