“I like simple food, seasoned with just salt, pepper, oil and vinegar. Complicated food and complicated lives are never good.” Sirio Maccioni
It’s always great to see a new restaurant concept do so well in the capital’s very competitive and ever changing dining scene. One such success story is Circo Abu Dhabi located at the Intercontinental Hotel which has achieved so much in the twelve months since it opened through the sheer hard work and dedication of the team, recognised more recently by winning both the What’s On and Time Out Abu Dhabi awards for Favourite/Best Italian of 2015.
Abu Dhabi’s diners are fickle, with so much choice they have every opportunity to be, the secret to securing a loyal and happy customer base is consistently good food and that’s the story of Circo’s success, that and the very passionate restaurant manager Gianluca and his wonderful team. Located on the lower ground floor adjacent to the marina, Circo restaurant, the Italian for Circus, is part of the Maccioni family empire. Founder Sirio Maccioni and his wife Egidiana opened the acclaimed celebrity hangout, Le Cirque French restaurant in the city that never sleeps over forty years ago and now have a total of ten restaurants around the world. Here in Abu Dhabi, the hotel’s Executive Chef Danny and Circo Head Chef Matteo, who took over from Chef Luca recently, have perfected the Italian menu which is influenced by the personal recipes and traditional Tuscan cooking of matriarch Mamma Egidiana, handed down through the generations.
First impressions may leave you wondering how this garish circus themed venue offers fine dining, surely the two concepts are mismatched? Look past the bright primary colours and heavy patterned carpet to the quality of the fresh, imaginative and exquisite Tuscan food that leaves you wanting more. Add in fine Italian wines and the high level of service and you realise why the restaurant has already received two accolades in such a short period of time.
I have been to many events at Circo over the past year and I have always been impressed with both the food and the service. I was invited to attend the restaurant’s First Anniversary dinner and it was a pleasure to join Mauro Maccioni and Carlo Mantica who flew in from New York for the occasion, to celebrate the restaurant’s first milestone and success.
We started the evening with an aperitif on the outdoor terrace area before moving inside for a five-course Italian feast prepared by Chef Danny and Chef Matteo accompanied with five different Italian vintages including Circo’s own wine. The dinner started with an Amuse Bouche of Grouper Tartare with crouton, mint and peas sauce, the antipasto course was venison carpaccio with pickled porcini mushrooms, seasonal shaved white truffle, pecorino romano, truffled ricotta crouton eaten with a Mâcon Villages ‘Chameroy’ 2010, Louis Latour, Burgundy, 2013
The entree was Langoustine with caviar and bloody mary mocktail. Pasta was next with homemade tortelli with veal ossobuco and berries sauce, pumpkin cream, foie gras in red wine and fresh basil olive oil washed down with a Chianti Superior, Banfi, Toscana, Italy, 2013. The secondo course was a grand affair as The Circo’s Sweetheart arrived, a stuffed tuna steak dramatically served in a wooden box with wild herbs parfumes, beetroot and balsamic sauce, sweet potato mousse, baby carrots and broccolini accompanied with Nebbiolo Langhe, Batasiolo, 2013. As usual myself and fellow veggies were well looked after as each course had an alternative vegetarian option including a delicious soup, burrata cheese dish, aubergines and potato gnocchi to name a few.
The finale, Il dolce aka dessert was a delicious and unusual white chocolate and basil mousse with dark chocolate, orange jus ‘à la minute’ and mandarin sorbet served with individual bright orange juicers to squeeze your own orange juice. Whether you are a carnivore or a vegetarian, a feast was had by all, a great night celebrating all things Circo! Saluti, congratulations on a fantastic first year and heres to continued success in the future. If you haven’t visited Circo Abu Dhabi yet, make sure it’s top of your list for 2016.
Circo Abu Dhabi Restaurant
Location: Lower Ground Floor, Intercontinental Hotel Abu Dhabi
Telephone: 02 666 6888
Facebook: Circo Abu Dhabi
Opening Hours: Lunch: 12:00 – 16:00 Dinner: 19:00 – 23:30
Every Day from 5pm -7pm it’s Happy Hour at Circo! Enjoy 50% off the Light Fare Menu ans selected beverages.
I was invited to attend this event but the views are all my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated all photos © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved. Dessert and chefs photo used courtesy of Circo Abu Dhabi Facebook.