Luigia, located inside the beautiful Rixos Premium hotel on JBR, is the perfect choice for authentic Italian food. From the Neapolitan wood-fired oven to the vintage bulb signs differentiating areas like the bar from the cucina, its aesthetic is reminiscent of Italy. With great food, a prime location and a dedicated kids club, there’s a lot to love about Luigia.
Venue and Service
We were greeted warmly as we entered the restaurant around 1 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. The space was open, airy and dimly lit with an amber glow. The eclectic mix of leather booths and wooden tables and chairs complemented the throwback Italian ambiance. We slid into one of the booths, which had more than enough space to accommodate my family of four.
Our server, Matteo, was knowledgeable and attentive throughout the visit. He began with a short introduction and told us that all of the ingredients are sourced from Italy, arriving every three days and how all of the pasta is made in-house at Luigia. I couldn’t help but notice that he took our order using an electronic device. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was an iPod Touch with restaurant management software. The beauty of this process is that the order was immediately sent to kitchen staff when he entered it, which enabled them to get started on it more quickly. We ordered food for the kids first, and then made our selections about ten to twelve minutes later. All of the food, with the exception of my husband’s entrée (it was a complicated delicacy that required a little more time), arrived quickly – actually, sooner than I thought it would.
We tried just about every item on the kids menu as our children tend to be picky eaters. My oldest son requested peperoni pizza, which isn’t an option on the kid’s menu so the chef accommodated the special request. My youngest, preferred margherita pizza so we ordered that for him. My kids like pizza but since this was gourmet style, we knew it could possibly be a hit or miss. In case of a miss, we ordered the chicken tenders as a fail safe and it’s a good thing we did. My youngest didn’t touch his pizza but he devoured the chicken tenders that were served with homemade chips. In fact, we all loved them. There chicken was fried to perfection, tender on the inside with a crispy coating on the outside. The texture of the batter was perfect – somewhere between buttermilk and panko. My oldest was quite satisfied with the pepperoni (beef salami) pizza, which meant both of my children ate their food!
I started with the Caprese, a fresh ball of mozzarella with dattterini tomato and extra virgin olive oil. It was good but definitely sized for two. For my main, I had the Tagliata di Manzo, a prime cut of Angus ribeye steak served with rocket salad. I added a side of pan-fried potatoes with chilli peppers to balance things out. The steak was prepared medium well as requested. The first two courses were good but dessert was my favorite dish of the day. I had the Baba Tradizionale, which is basically a rum soaked pastry, with a side of vanilla ice cream. Before I recommend this, let me caution you. We’re not talking a splash of rum in the batter or rum sauce dribbled over the top. We’re talking so much rum, that the pastry can’t stand up. It’s served on its side. When I cut into it with the tip of the spoon, I could see moisture rise to the surface as if I had just squeezed a sponge. It was a lot of alcohol but it was still surprisingly light and delicious. Paired with the vanilla ice cream, it was the perfect ending to a great meal. If you’re not opposed to alcohol and in the mood for a sweet treat, I highly recommend this desert.
My husband started with the mussels, which he said was his favorite dish of the day. He followed that up with the Fusilli ai Ferretto ai crostacei. It was a mix of shrimp tail, scampi, lobster and Piennolo tomatoes served over twisty noodles. This is the dish that took a bit longer to prepare but it was well worth the wait. The only opportunity for improvement that he noted was removing shells. It was an arduous task and he would’ve enjoyed the meal more if the seafood would have been served without them.
The Bambini Brunch
Luigia accommodates the entire family every Friday and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. with their Bambini Kids Brunch. They have a dedicated playroom with an area for soft play, coloring, a reading nook, cinema, fuse ball and a video game machine with classics like Pacman. My boys were in heaven! They played until their food came and when they were finished they returned to play some more. Two members of the staff were on hand attending to the area while we – and a host of other parents – ate our food in peace. Did I mention that kids eat free? Yep. You read that right. Kids get complimentary pizza and pasta.
The Bambini Brunch at Luigia is perfect for families. The restaurant bills itself as “the best of Italy” and I’d have to agree. They offer high quality food in a five star setting with a service offering for kids that goes above and beyond most other eateries. This is definitely a brunch you don’t want to miss. We drove in from Abu Dhabi and it was totally worth it.