Cipriani restaurants have their genesis in Harry’s Bar, founded in Venice by Giuseppe Cipriani, in 1931. Discreetly nestled in an old stone building off Piazza San Marco, Harry’s Bar witnessed a century of events in Venice, and was thus declared a national landmark by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs in 2001. The honor only reinforced the hospitality brand’s impeccable venues and service, which we we happily experienced recently at Cipriani Yas Island.
Driving over from Dubai, we arrived late at our destination, but were still welcomed warmly by the friendly staff who invited us to the bar for some refreshing Bellinis. I was surprised to find out the famous peach and champagne cocktail was actually invented at Harry’s Bar in 1948. The fresh peach taste was extremely authentic and was by far the best we’ve ever had! Our drinks were accompanied by light vegetable chips -a healthy alternative to potato chips- and chicken mushroom croquettes, a pleasant reminder of my mom’s ‘poulet a la kiev’.
While enjoying our welcome nibbles, we chatted with the very congenial manager Eduardo, whose North to South mixed Italian origins made him all the more pleasant. We had visited Cipriani during F1 season last year and when we expressed how impressed we had been by the flawless service,
Eduardo explained that for F1 week, 90 additional staff members are flown in from Cipriani restaurants around the world for extra support, as perfect service is a pillar of the concept’s identity. Walking through the restaurant towards the terrace, we admired the lovely nautical-themed decor designed by Florentine architect Michele Bonan; relaxing hues of white and blue held up by wood, couches and lounge corners, warm lamps, bookshelves filled with interesting literature -we felt a familiar atmosphere, that of our own homes.
Our table awaited us on the vast, warmly-lit terrace with a breathtaking view of the famous Viceroy hotel sparkling with shades of pink, purple and blue. Perched above Yas Marina with its boats rocking gently on the water and Yas Marina Circuit on the opposite side, the setting is ideal for any kind of lunch or dinner, romantic or with a group.
Eduardo’s confidence and extensive knowledge of the industry made us in turn confident enough to ask for his recommendations and house specialties. Upon asking about our preferred ingredients or dishes -you know us well by now, anything truffles, burrata and steak tartare, we just have to try!- he decided on a menu, and on rolled the edible poetry which is Cipriani’s cuisine.
A vegetable salad with cucumber slices, cherry tomato, corn and avocado – regular every day ingredients coated with a delicious sauce. They say ‘luxury is simplicity’; that is what the salad embodied, a very simple salad you can prepare at home, but with raw materials so fresh and tasty they makes a world of difference.
Most ingredients used at Cipriani Yas Island are actually imported from the finest suppliers in Italy for a more authentic and qualitative taste.
A typical Italian delicacy, the burrata comes in an unusual 300g portion that easily serves 3, impressive. A bit salty for our taste, but with a perfect creamy texture, Eduardo explained this is the way a real buratta should be. We are convinced!
Cipriani’s steak tartare, known to be one of the best tartare worldwide, is a tender, mouth-watering mountain of the cleanest, freshest beef we’ve had. Being steak tartare aficionados and having tried it wherever available, my companion and I would have preferred it to be a bit more ‘relevé’ and flavoured, perhaps with more mustard and Worcestershire sauce. We enjoyed it nevertheless and devoured it on thin homemade toasts.
As luck would have it, truffle season had started just before our visit! Eduardo was kind enough to make sure both our main dishes were truffle based, and we couldn’t have asked for better.
A Cipriani signature pasta dish, the homemade Tagliolini (thin noodles) with white truffles was a pleasant surprise. At first glance, we worried it would be heavy as the dish seemed to be cream based, but it was far from that; the only two ingredients, Tagliolini and white truffles, marry in a perfect light mix, a scrumptious yet simple wonder.
The ricotta and spinach ravioli is turned into a totally new experience, with eggs and truffle inside the ravioli, and truffle shavings sprinkled all over. A The runny egg keeps the spinach and ricotta from being dry and adds a twist to the traditional dish. Italian restaurants usually serve ravioli with spinach and ricotta only, but Cipriani definitely made it enjoyably unusual.
The meringue cake is an absolute delight; a delicious meringue mousse crowning a sponge and cream layered cake, simply divine.
The mocha cake, an interesting and sweet alternative to having coffee after dinner, was very well balanced. I personally prefer Tiramisu if going for coffee based-desserts, but this was a pretty good cake!
The homemade vanilla ice cream with a side of dark chocolate sauce, amarena fabre cherries and homemade sablé looked like a small colourful painting. Although I am self-diagnosed vanilla allergic, I dared to try as it all looked too nice to be missed. I actually liked the ice cream, and definitely loved the cherries. It is interesting to know that the ice cream is freshly whipped ‘à la minute’ and readied in 5 minutes.
We had heard about Mr. Cipriani’s vision of simple luxury, his concept of treating the customer as king and as one would like to be treated and served, but experiencing it first hand allowed us to really understand the impeccable service and exquisite food that was born in Harry’s Bar, and taken on by the Cipriani venues. Apparently, Mr. Cipriani is often seen serving patrons himself at his restaurants during rush time, a fact that both staff members and customers highly admire.
We appreciated that most of the staff are Italian, bringing an authentic feel to the restaurant and atmosphere with their “buonasera”, “benvenuto” “grazie” and “prego”. That family spirit is definitely influenced by the generations of Cipriani family members that have turned one small restaurant in Venice into a worldwide yet down-to-earth empire.
Cipriani Yas Island – Bdlg# 1, Yas Marina, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi / 00971 2 657 5400 / firstname.lastname@example.org / Opening Hours: 6:00 pm – 12:00 am