Carluccio’s is located in the south end of the exquisite Galleria Mall on Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi. Once inside the mall, we perused displays of high end luxury retailers like Diane Von Furstenberg and Louis Vuitton as we made our way to the restaurant. We arrived at Carluccio’s and were pleasantly surprised to find a light, open air design concept. Traditionally, Italian restaurants are reminiscent of Italy, ornate and full of textural elements like wood and stone. The decor was largely inspired by the colorful arrangements of retail goods. You can dine in and take home everything from gourmet noodles and chocolate to top shelf olive oil for your own Italian creations. With a toddler in tow, we appreciated the casual dining feel, modern furniture and overall minimalist feel of the dining room.
The Carluccio’s menu includes all of the popular dishes one would expect to find at an Italian eatery. We were sure to choose both traditional and non-traditional dishes to give a well rounded impression of the food. Here’s what we had…
- Bruschetta – Vine ripened tomatos with oregano, basil leaves, roasted peppers and extra virgin olive oil on garlicky Italian bread.
- Sea Bream – Pan fried sea bream with crushed potatoes, fennel, olives and capers.
- Mixed Salad – Lettuce, peppers, tomato and red onion dressed in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Lasagna – Layered pasta with beef and lamb ragu and bechamel sauce
- Spaghetti Kids meal
The food was good and as expected for casual dining. Everything was served made-to-order and fresh. My husband ordered the Sea Bream and gave it thumbs up on flavor and presentation. He did note however that the thin pieces of fish had not been deboned which made eating it a bit of a task. I had the Lasagna and sampled my toddler’s spaghetti. Both were decent but I was not fond of the sauce. I am accustomed to tomato based, red sauces with both of these dishes. The Carluccio’s recipe contained what tasted like a cheese based, orange sauce. Though different for my palette, both meals were good. Carluccio’s shines in the drnk department. Their mocktails and homemade drinks were delicious and refreshing. My husband paired his meal with homemade Ginger Ale. Made with fresh ginger, the drink rendered a freshness that you just don’t get from a can of the carbonated drink. I initially ordered the Pomegranite Punch but due to high demand, it was finished for the day. My second choice was the Apple Mojito with crushed mint, lime and sugar topped with fresh apple juice. It was very good and something I would surely order again. So what’s a good meal without an even better dessert? I finished my meal with a deletable scoop of vanilla gelato.
The service was impeccable. Everyone we came in contact with from the server to the manager was pleasant and accommodating. Moreover, they made us feel comfortable dining as a family with our toddler. If you’ve ever taken a two year old out for dinner, you understand the woes of dining with a child. They often become restless, fidgety and down right messy throughout the dining experience. The staff were attentive enough to put in the order for the kid’s meal ahead of our food and to even offer my son a balloon when it seemed he needed a distraction. I certainly appreciated that.
Overall we had a great experience at Carluccio’s. It’s refreshing to find casual dining inside the mall offering a greater quality of food than the usual options you find in the food court. The prices were also affordable. Whether choosing items a la carte or choosing from the fixed price menu (two courses AED 79/three courses AED 99) you’re sure to get great food at a great price.