By Deepa Thomas-Sutcliffe
Last month, I had the pleasure of visiting San Carlo Cicchetti in Sulamaniyah for a food tasting with one of my foodie friends, John. We had a wonderful dining experience and enjoyed our conversations with the knowledgeable restaurant general manager Mr. Cosimo Butuc as well as head chef Mr. Enrico Schiavon and sous chef Mr. Giacomo Basile.
San Carlo Cicchetti has restaurants across the UK and
We ate and drank our way through a delicious gustatory menu over a couple of hours. I had a tasty martini to start off with as the food started arriving. The fresh burrata cheese was complimented by the roasted tomatoes and is one of their signature dishes. They serve Fritti (traditional Italian fried street food) and we tried a yummy buffalo mozzarella fried in light white bread with a spicy tomato dip. As we took a break to talk to the chefs, they served a delicious mushroom soup with a delicious earthy taste. The chefs talked passionately about how the freshest ingredients imported from Italy or made with love in their kitchen are used in the dishes they serve. They make their own pasta, burrata and gelato. They take pride in using a variety of pastas to introduce their guests to new flavours and have chosen to not feature spaghetti on their menu.
Next was the Melanzane Parmigiana made with aubergine, tomato sauce and parmesan cheese which absolutely melted in the mouth, another signature dish. The delicious truffle and pecorino ravioli was delicately flavoured and possibly my favourite dish of the evening. And then we were served a thin crust sliced pizza with mushroom, truffle, rocket, parmesan and mozzarella, it was definitely something to order again the next time I dine here.
My friend John was tasting the non-vegetarian dishes for the food review and loved the veal in tuna sauce. The mains were a carne-carnival, in his words. The sea bass was a good example of the devotion to making something simple spectacular by the care and love with which it was prepared. It was a showcase to see how thickly it had been crusted with the volcanic salt and to watch the waiter carefully remove it to reveal the fish underneath. And that is where the effort pays off – the fish was beautifully cooked by itself but the infusion of the crust into the flesh was delicate and subtle but hugely impactful. The beef rib, too was spectacular. On the outside it had that delicious crusty caramelised taste, presumably from searing, but the meat itself was uber-tender and just slid off the bone. It just fell apart on the tongue. And my, that sauce was amazing.
It was now time for desserts and the manager had recommended the salted caramel cheesecake which was outstanding. John had the tiramisu as he is tasting his way through all the tiramisus in Riyadh. We had some delicious gelatos to finish, including a unique wild-cherry gelato which will soon feature in the menu.
San Carlo Cicchetti will soon introduce terrace dining and regularly introduces new specials. They have about 110 covers and I loved the simplistic décor of the table setting with a lemon on each table. Go to San Carlo Cicchetti to enjoy a vibrant atmosphere and great food with friends and family. Celebrate a bit of Italy here and embrace the organised chaos, the waiters singing happy birthday in Italian, the music, staff calling across to each other and dishes arriving continuously as they are ready in the kitchen, true to the chicchetti concept. As the chef said, we are doing things our way rather than comparing ourselves with other restaurants. I really enjoyed my dining experience and will definitely be going back for some Italian flavour soon.
How to find
San Carlo Cicchetti Riyadh
Prince Abdulaziz Ibn Musaid Ibn Jalawi St, As Sulimaniyah, 12241 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia