It was inevitable there’d be a fourth.

The queues outside the OG Antonia at Mamsha, almost never seen in Abu Dhabi, are testament to its popularity, and the more neighbourhood-esque Antonia Trattoria is proving to be popular amongst the Raha Beach crowd for fabulous casual Italian. There’s even a branch at Zayed International Airport, in a great collab with Bottega Prosecco for anyone who fancies pizza al taglia pre-boarding! So we waited with bated breath to see where chef/owner Simone Federici would spread the Antonia love next.  

Antonia Chic has opened in The Galleria Al Maryah, on the second floor of the mall proper. And representing an Abu Dhabi first, it’s licensed - which means your mid-shop lunch could include a cheeky Aperol Spritz, or a glass of red if that’s your thing.

Walk into a sea of deliciously heavy red velvet drapes, crushed red velvet chairs and banquettes, with a long terrace bringing in the natural light during the day, and low lights at night. It feels cosy and is refreshingly different from the more minimalist interiors that are so common around town. It's not too big so even when only a few tables are full - which is rare by the way - there is a definite vibe.

In short, it’s different. And we're here for it.

The menu is only slightly different from the other branches but there are some excellent additions. The tartare di gambero (AED75) is a gorgeous (and quite large) platter of prawn tartare with a crisp apple and celery extract added. If you’re lunching, or just wanted something very light, this would be a great option. As would the agnolotti (AED95), graced with curls of black truffle - this is another light dish, not too large. Antonia wouldn’t be the same without the most authentic suppli in Abu Dhabi - it never disappoints!

We covet the very, very good squid ink tagliolini, a lovely thin ribbon pasta, similar to linguine, and awash with squid, scallops, prawns and lobster. This rich, delicious pasta should be a heavy dish, but manages a lightness that makes it perfect to share for lunch or dinner (AED110 single/AED185 sharing). For something simple and delicious, it’s worth trying the mafaldine (AED80)with pesto and creamy stracciatella cheese - this is also a dish kids can get on board with!

Finish your meal with the fun ‘baba show’ where the rhum baba is skilfully put together tableside, dusted with a sprinkle of pistachio and deposited in front of you with pride. Antonia offers one of the best versions of tiramisu in Abu Dhabi - get a bowl to share, even if you’re ‘not having dessert’ .

It’s not Antonia without pizza and we recommend a board or a half board with whatever’s coming out of the kitchen. Antonia pizza has a natural sourdough base, with a 72 hour rise which makes it light, but chewy and crispy in all the right places. The pizza classiche has the best version of all your favourites, but the gourmet options are also good - the gricia with caramelised onion and pancetta is absolutely superb (AED60 half, AED110 full). The pizza counter is conveniently located just inside the entrance, so if you don’t have time for a sit-down, you can get a box to take away.

To accompany your meal, get a ½ litre carafe of house red (AED65), a glass of prosecco from AED38 or an exceptional mocktail - we can never resist the strawberry frosty, which looks particularly at home amongst all the red! But this mojito (pictured) was absolutely astonishingly refreshing - and thankfully, it tasted exactly as it should (do mocktail drinkers really want their drinks to taste like the alcoholic version but without the alcohol? Not this little black duck!)

The best thing about Antonia Chic is that unlike other new openings that take so much time to really hit their straps, the food loses none of the charm we know and love and service is seamless: if you’re an Antonia enthusiast, you’ll recognise some familiar faces from other branches. We’ve dined in both at lunchtime and in the evening and seen tables come and go within a ‘lunch hour’ and enjoyed a more leisurely dinner. 

This is a great addition to both the Galleria and the Antonia brand. According to almost everyone on the team from the top down, the success of Antonia lies in the constant training, care and attention to detail: they’re aware of how brutal the market can be and are intent on keeping standards high. The team clearly enjoys working together and day in, day out, are producing an experience to be proud of.

It's more grown up, but no less attractive than the other branches. Another job well done!

Open: 12PM - 11/11.30PM

Contact:  02 674 9781

NB, Antonia Chic doesn't accept reservations

Rachael Partington