The St Regis Abu Dhabi stormed into our collective culinary consciouses when we visited Catch At St Regis last month. This month, we had the pleasure of dining at Villa Toscana, and were blown away by this exciting new menu, whose food is both innovative and familiar.

We're making the big call that it's charged its way to being in the top 3 Italian restaurants in Abu Dhabi. Here's why ...


There's no doubt you're in an Italian restaurant when you walk into Villa Toscana: you're greeted in Italian, by Italians and the smells from the kitchen are undeniably, swoon-worthily Italian.

Order a glass of good Italian prosecco or an Aperol Spritz and settle into what promises to be the real deal. The new menu has dishes both artistically brilliant and completely approachable. Don't be mistaken for thinking that you'll be forced to carb load with pasta and pizza: while we do recommend this, there's so much more on offer and it's even possible to have a really light meal, that's incredible from start to finish.

You know it's good when you start with a bread basket that's filled with bread and foccacia and little pastry knots - and because it's what we're all here for, we can report that the foccacia is light and stringy and pillowy and all those other good adjectives. We're not ashamed to admit, we go in nose-first, and breathe deep!


If you’re a lover of meat, but don’t want something heavy, start with the wagyu beef tartare (AED125), with thin slices of truffle and fresh parsley sauce. Not only does it come out looking superb, it's light and fresh and so flavourful. 


The second plate is, if anything, even more glorious. Chef Vittorio and his team have this pan-seared octopus (polpo) exactly right – this dish, with its beautifully prepared octopus, delicate minty pea puree and slices of fresh peach and green beans is astoundingly good, and is no diet buster! 

It may be the third starter that really has us on our toes. It's pretty simple: fried baby calamari with a splash of lime and a fabulous, just-spicy-enough chili sauce (AED85). But it's done so well,(crunchy, light and great for sharing), you can close your eyes and you’re munching it on the beach in Lucca!


The exact right size for a starter plate, this house-made pasta is to be savoured, eyes closed, flavours noted. The veal belly ravioli (AED120), stuffed with meat and with sage undertones is pasta heaven and with a veal reduction poured over it, it’s a plate that screams both comfort food and the finest of pasta dining.  


The pasta e risotto menu is varied and great for seafood and meat lovers and vegetarians alike.

It's here that risotto enthusiasts can rejoice! Not only does Villa Toscana produce some of the best risotto in Abu Dhabi, but it doesn’t just offer mushroom! We love the Canaroli risotto with beef n’duja and a smooth, rich, red capsicum cream. The little seas of melted provolone on top, made this a dish to enjoy and come back for.  

While we didn't try, we know there'll be loads of people who'd love the ribollita soup with crusty bread - this is Italian comfort food at its best.


We’re tempted by the rack of lamb and the veal chop Milanese, but if it’s steak you crave, look no further: the enormous slab of excellent wagyu beef is cooked to perfection and well-seasoned. The vegetable accompaniments are delicious in themselves: a creamy, sweet cauliflower puree, shallots and roasted baby carrots make this a dish to remember. 


Or should we say, octopus.

Stuffed octopus.

This is one of those dishes that speaks to the Italian distaste for waste. Leftover bread is made into crumbs, put together with anchovies, capers and olives and stuffed into octopus. It's baked with some glorious yellow and red tomato reductions and a wash of basil and the result is magical!

This is a must-try dish from Villa Toscana.


It could be said that we’re all about the dolce (what meal is complete without dessert?!) and we’re happy to say that the Villa Toscana dessert selection has something divine for everyone.

The gelato is house-made and is smooth and creamy – we recommend the nocciola! The mango semifreddo is fresh and a great, light way to tick the sweet ending box, but it was the torta calda cioccolato (chocolate fondant cake!) that really steals the show. There are many, many places in Abu Dhabi that serve fondant cake, but none of them are anywhere close to this beauty. The quality of the ingredients is plain to see and, when cut into, produces just the right amount of rich, thick chocolate ooze. 





What sets Villa Toscana apart, aside from its outstanding, ably led by the very skilled Domenico, is the clear evidence of high quality ingredients, expertly prepared by an exceptionally skilled chef team. 

We can’t recommend Villa Toscana enough for a date night, to satisfy a need for authentic, quality Italian food, or in cooler months, an aperitivo on the glorious Tuscan terrace.  

Rachael Partington