I was invited by Sheraton Abu Dhabi, for a tasting at their Italian restaurant, La Mamma, last week.
Having been born and brought up in Abu Dhabi, Sheraton is one iconic hotel I have seen growing up. It is a place that brings back lots of memories.
Though I live in Dubai now, I still use their services.
Hospitality wise, there are only a few hotels that match the five-star criteria and Sheraton is one of them.
From invitation till the tasting, they made me feel comfortable at every step.
My friend accompanied me to the restaurant. As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by the lovely manager and briefed about the new menu that they had recently introduced. What I found interesting was that the Chef makes a majority of the pasta himself without any machine.
We were well-taken care of from the time we entered the restaurant. Not just us, I noticed the manager paying attention to everyone dining there and the staff was looking after everybody well.
La Mamma is on the hotel’s ground floor. The warm and welcoming interiors, give it a very rustic feeling. The weather was beautiful, and we were seated next to the window that overlooked the hotel’s main entrance and a beautiful jardiniere.
The menu and atmosphere cater to every taste and liking. It was a bit difficult to select from the vast menu, but we opted to go for the two best selling appetisers and kept browsing through the main course section.
A bread basket was placed on the table while the Chef prepared our appetisers.
Leading the kitchen, Chef Juri Pelusi has worked in some of the finest restaurants around the world. He brings with him the experience from Michelin star restaurants and blends it with his expertise to create cuisine that will make you go back for more.
Our appetisers, the oven baked eggplant (Parmigiana di melanzane al Forno) and the fresh Stracciatella salad had arrived.
The presentation was quite attractive. The salad was served in a jar while the eggplant had a burst of bright colours on the plate.
We dived into the oven baked eggplant first. We had not even stopped praising the taste of the eggplant and the tangy tomato sauce combination yet, that one bite of the fresh cheese salad took our taste buds to a different delicious experience altogether.
You can taste every single ingredient that goes into the dish created by Chef Juri. All the flavours complement each other so well that you can’t help but wonder that if these are the starters what should you expect next?
I find rocket leaves overpowering and not of my taste but the Stracciatella cheese neutralised the intensity and added freshness to it.
While our mains arrived, I got a chance to speak with the Chef and see him make pasta live in the traditional Italian way. He showed us the technique and the different cuts that separate one pasta from the other.
Upon asking about his experience working with Michelin star restaurants, casual dining restaurants and the difference between the two, he explained that one gets to learn a lot in a Michelin star restaurant. They have their rules and recipes. The techniques are hard at first and seem impossible to achieve but once accomplished; it gives you confidence and pride. With casual dining restaurants, you have to bring in your experience and recipes, and you have the freedom to run the kitchen with what makes you comfortable.
His vision for La Mamma is to create casual food with a fine dining presentation.
Our main courses had arrived. We had ordered the homemade baked ricotta dumplings (Gnocchi di ricotta alla Sorrentina) since we wanted to try the Chef’s homemade pasta. The second item from the menu was the La Mamma special Risotto (Risotto al radicchio, noci e fonduta al gorgonzola.) The presentations were excellent, and the taste was even better.
We thoroughly enjoyed the dumplings. The pasta was tender and well cooked. The tomato sauce and basil balanced the flavours very well, and again we could taste every ingredient individually.
The Risotto gave a strong walnut kick that was blended well with the salty Gorgonzola cheese.
We ended our gastronomic tour of Italy with the traditional Pannacotta. We savoured every bit of the aesthetically pleasing dessert.
Surprisingly, I have been to so many Italian restaurants in the past few months that I could compare the flavours and the menu. My friend and I were of the honest opinion that this was by far the most authentic and delicious Italian food we had ever had.
So do drop by at La Mamma to awaken your senses and go on a flavoursome journey to Italy, with Chef Juri, sans visa and passport!
I would like to thank Judith and Elena from the marketing team, Tala, the restaurant manager, Chef Juri and the staff for making this experience an enjoyable one.
I have compiled my Insta stories here in the form of a short video where the Chef is demonstrating his techniques of making delicious homemade pasta.