(all photos by the author)
Zaitoun is a restaurant for lovers – lovers of Italian food, lovers of Italian music, and lovers of sharing an Italian moment with somebody special.
This is what Zaitoun looks like from the resort gardens looking in. The ambience inside is warm and at the same time exciting: it’s like something special is about to happen!
First, find a cozy corner to call your own…
Actually, wait! First you have to get there!!
Zaitoun is part of the Danat Jebel Dhanna Beach Resort in Ruwais, in the western region of Abu Dhabi, so you will need to drive a few hours to reach it. The highway is fast, the surface in parts uneven, and the fierce desert winds buffet you continually, trying to push you out of your lane.
I needed a large, comfortable, and fast car for this trip – and I found the best!
Even the Land Cruisers and Patrols moved out of my way as I appeared in their rear mirrors: the Lincoln Navigator is a giant of an SUV. It excels at long-distance trips and its sheer mass provided us with a comforting road presence and safety above all others – and the cross-winds didn’t even phase us!
Plus, the Lincoln Navigator looks fantastic – best grille I have had the pleasure of admiring on a SUV.
At just over 5.6 meters in length, and height over 2 meters, the Lincoln Navigator dwarfs the Japanese SUV parked beside it.
It sure is a big boy! But a gentle giant, as the interior is soft and incredibly quiet at speed. The inside space is cavernous, and we could have slept inside it in comfort.
At Zaitoun, we chose the private room, with its beautiful painted fresco on the wall.
The main seating area in the restaurant is airy, bright and pleasant, though at late night the lights are dimmed and the candlelight turns up the romance.
The menu was extensive – literally, it is a book of culinary delights!
We wondered what would emerge from the kitchen (you know, little town of Ruwais, far from the city lights, middle of the desert… our expectations were indeed set for “flexibility”…)
just look what the first dish was:
WOW! Are we really in Ruwais??? Or at a top restaurant in Milano?
And this is what followed: delight after delight!
I asked my wife to pinch me so I could wake up – but: No! First, let me finish eating this fantastic meal because it is a dream worth having!!!
And the best was served at the end. As impeccable as all other dishes were, in both presentation and preparation, the desserts topped a superb meal with diamonds and rubies of dazzling sweetness: excellent, and creamy-dreamy.
Now I could wake up. So I went to find the Chef – who is the artist responsible for this culinary extravaganza?
Here he is: Executive Chef Arvind Sharma!
Trained by an Italian Chef in his native India, Chef Sharma manages overall the dining outlets at the Danat Jebel Dhanna Beach Resort, but he pays special personal attention to Zaitoun. I found him to be a deeply knowledgeable man, in world cuisines as well as Italian, but also in most other topics of conversation as well. It goes to show that in our globalized world, outstanding talent travels to all corners of the globe, even out to Al Ruwais.
So if you find yourself out in the western region of Abu Dhabi emirate, or indeed if you fancy a get-away weekend from the city, then absolutely do not miss the chance to dine at Zaitoun.
You will be welcomed as royalty, and all details will be perfect for an Italian love story of delicious food.
Even olive oil and vinegar love each other at Zaitoun!
Zaitoun, at Danat Jebel Dhanna Beach Resort, is located near the ferry leading to Sir Baniyas Island.
Zaitoun restaurant is located in the Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort, which is managed by Danat Hotels & Resorts, a division of the National Corporation for Tourism & Hotels: PO Box 12333, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Tel: +971 2 801 2222
Fax: +971 2 801 2333