This should go well with the King’s visit to Italy today, but I swear it’s just a coincidence :-) but first I need to ask: is there that many Italian restaurants in Riyadh? I don’t know but I don’t think that I have seen many of them. But if you were craving pasta there are certainly a few places to be recommended.
There is Pizza Roma in Sulaymania. Now I have never been there because they don’t allow single men in the evening (don’t you just love how crazy the segregation in this city can get?) but whenever I ask about a good Italian place it is the first answer I usually get. So, Pizza Roma has a big reputation but since I’ve never tried it I don’t know how good it is. I trust the high taste of some of those who recommend it but I advice you to try it yourself, or if you have already eaten there you are welcome to share your views in the comments.
Another nice Italian place is the Roma Restaurant. It is one of Riyadh’s hidden treasures, located on a small dark back street near the intersection of Olaya and Mousa bin Nussair. A friend of mine who’s been to both Pizza Roma and Roma Restaurant says they have very similar menus. I recently visited the place and tried their mushroom cream soup as a starter and later the cannelloni with four kinds of cheese and béchamel. Both were delicious and the prices are not very expensive.
The place is small and if you have the misfortune to find a noisy crowd when go there then you might have a problem listening to your friend on the other side of the table. Even worse, some people don’t seem to have a problem smoking heavily in such a small closed area. Unfortunately, instead of banning this disgusting habit, the restaurant seem to encourage it by providing ashtrays on every table. A reservation is needed, especially on weekends, but during midweek you should be able to get a table without one if you were willing to wait for a few minutes.
On Tahlia St. you can find Pizza Amore, which offers a very good selection of speciality pizza that you can’t find anywhere else in town. I have been there a couple of times with foreign guests and my experience has always been more than nice. The families’ section is not very spacious so you may need to check before going there with a big mixed group. I recommend the anchovies pizza, if you were into that kind of thing, of course, as it seems that many people are afraid to try anchovies. I used to be like that, btw, but after trying this pizza I found that my fear was unfounded. They also make some seriously delicious raviolis.
Although I enjoy the experience of going to restaurants and slowly eating my meal under the dim lighting, sometimes I wish if there was a place where I can find a good instant pasta on-the-go that I can grab on my way home. I really wish that Mrs. Vanellis, which I like to go to in Khobar and Bahrain, would open here. If you happen to know something like that in town please let me know. Other than the restaurants I mentioned here I expect there might be a few more good Italian places in the city, so don’t hesitate to share your finds in the comments. What’s your favourite Italian restaurant in Riyadh?