“Where food means family.” Verso
Abu Dhabi is awash with new venues, sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all the new cafes, restaurants and hotels opening their doors on what seems like a weekly basis, let alone the reworked concepts and rebranding of existing places. What this constant hive of activity does offer is never-ending variety and dining out is certainly never dull.
The Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Residences Emirates Pearl finally opened its doors last month and Verso, its casual Italian trattoria, is a worthy new contender on the capital’s already jam-packed restaurant scene. The vibrant, trendy interior of this ground floor space is inviting and reminded me of a Jamie’s (Jamie Oliver’s restaurant chain) with its open shelving crammed with accessories and authentic Italian foodstuff and a restaurant come deli style. If you couldn’t see the pool outside you could be forgiven for thinking you were actually in the heart of London not the capital.
Verso is the first restaurant to open in the soft opening phase of the hotel alongside the Pearl Lounge, a charming space with a lantern and plant filled terrace on the lobby level that overlooks the pool area, a future sundowner spot me thinks. When fully operational (hopefully September) the hotel will offer six venues to be collectively known as The Podium Abu Dhabi, a dining destination much like The Hub at WTC Mall. Verso is the place for a social meal with high communal tables perfect for larger parties and the sharing style food, more intimate areas are available for those who want privacy. Those who prefer alfresco dining, in cooler months obviously, can take advantage of the spacious outside terrace that’s adjacent to the curved infinity pool.
The open kitchen and bar areas add to the relaxed vibe, the casually attired staff are attentive but not intrusive. Platters of charcuterie and giant wheels of cheeses are displayed on a central wooden table along with moreish, fresh focaccia that goes perfectly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar while you await your food. The use of bright colours (lots of mustard yellow) and patterned tiled flooring are complemented by the boldly coloured, covetable ceramics in all shapes and sizes. High end olive oils presented in arty containers sit on all the tables and are available to purchase in the retail area.
I’ve been twice already, for dinner and then lunch and I’ve been impressed with both the choice and quality of the food on both occasions. Menu highlights include the burrata with aubergine cream, marinated honey tomatoes and taggiasca olives and the slow cooked veal loin, grilled tuna, capers cress for the meat eaters, both from the Antipasti selection. Pasta wise, the Trofie with basil pesto, potatoes, green beans and pecorino was so good we sampled it on both visits and the risotto with wild forest mushrooms is also worthy of a mention. I can thoroughly recommend the pizzas too, there’s nine varieties to choose with plenty of options for vegetarians and meat eaters alike.
Dessert wise I can recommend the Italian sorbet and gelato which is served in either a waffle cone or tub with a selection of toppings, we enjoyed ours poolside post lunch. The coffee is good as you would expect in an Italian outlet and there’s a wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages available including wines, prosecco and champagne, beers, spirits, cocktails, mocktails and sharing pitchers of Tuscan Sangria and of course Aperol Spritz amongst others.
The large hotel, offering over four hundred rooms and suites as well as sixty serviced apartments, is a grand affair living up to its Grand Hyatt name. You can’t miss it, slotted in between it’s glitzy neighbours, Jumeirah Etihad Towers and Bab Al Qasr in a prime West Corniche location opposite the landmark Emirates Palace. A steep sweeping drive leads you up to the lobby where you are greeted by an ostentatious interior that is certainly not lacking on wow factor. Three striking sphere shaped chandeliers, mirrored oversized seating and impressive flower displays are set against a feature wall that is modelled on rippling sand dunes.
One side of this vast space is home to the reception desk and banks of elevators while the Pearl Lounge is located at the rear. There’s a 24-hour fitness centre and Lum’a Spa (also due to open in September) that are together set across one entire floor, the gym is the only one in the capital to have an outdoor workout terrace.
The pool area is beautiful with its sweeping infinity pool that looks out to sea, there’s plenty of lounger style seating and comfy wicker cabanas for more shade. An additional smaller square pool is set amongst greenery in a more secluded area with adjacent seating, there’s also a shallower children’s pool and a tiny beach area. Take it from me it’s a tad warm to enjoy it to the max at the moment but if you are a hardcore sun worshiper you can take advantage of the soft-opening offer of breakfast or lunch at Verso followed by free pool access until the end of this month.
If you are looking for a respite from fine dining why not try the more casual Verso for traditional and seasonal Italian classics that have benefitted from a modern reinvention. Grab an Aperol Spritz or gelato and relax poolside, roll on September when we can all try everything this resplendent hotel has to offer.
Location: Ground Floor, Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Residences Emirates Pearl, West Corniche, Abu Dhabi.
Telephone: 02 510 1205
Opening Times: Verso: 12:00 noon – 11:00pm, Verso pool: 8:00am – 6:00pm, Retail: 10:00am – 11:00pm
I was invited to visit Verso. The views in this post are all my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated all photos © Jo Brett 2018. All rights reserved.