In this list we present to you the best Italian restaurants in Riyadh, tried and true. The city’s eating culture celebrates so many amazing cuisines. The Saudi capital’s history of serving up dishes from Italy has always been unique, but in recent months, we’ve seen the category become more stronger and the competition become increasingly stiffer.
It makes being a gourmet in Riyadh even more intriguing, with a variety of Italian regions, pricing categories, and areas featured on this list.
The greatest Italian dinners demonstrate how a few high-quality ingredients may be converted into something really unique. This is exemplified by Il Baretto.
The fine-dining restaurant was the first to operate in the King Abdullah Financial District, and it set the standard very high with its great, professional service, a vibrant ambiance, and a confident cuisine of Italian classics blended with items not commonly found on menus. You’d never describe this environment as dull.
The fact that people return when new establishments open in the neighbourhood says a lot. Join the fashionable foodies and reserve a table at Il Baretto before it fills up. You want to be a part of the excitement at Riyadh’s top Italian restaurant.
KAFD, ilbaretto.sa (92 001 2508).
The Al Olaya eating destination in sunny Antibes by Calabrian-raised chef Mamo maintains loyal to the French Rivera food while transporting customers to a gorgeous Italian courtyard – while you’re seated indoors.
It also works. Tables under the lemon trees fill up quickly with enthusiastic guests eager to sample generously portioned courses presented with flair by courteous staff. There are several options on the menu, providing you many reasons to return for lunch and supper.
Al Faisaliah Hotel, Al Olaya, mamo-michelangelo.com (92 000 0874).
If you’re unfamiliar with the Venetian manner of eating and sharing, head over to San Carlo Cicchetti with friends and family. Cicchetti, pronounced chi-KET-tee, are the Italian version of tapas, or tiny plates designed to be shared or eaten alone.
We understand if you don’t always want to share the stone-baked pizzas, changing seasonal specials, or handmade pasta, given some of these moreish, generously portioned, and reasonably priced items.
Your eating partners will get it. It’s also simple to order seconds and thirds at this busy establishment, where full tables are encouraged. Proceed through the menu.
As Sulimaniyah, sancarlocicchetti.sa (92 001 0679).
Want to get a taste of southern Italy without flying? Altopiano comes the closest. One of the elegant Italian restaurants on Bujairi Terrace and a Saudi-born brand, the recipes are inspired by Sicily but can also be found across the Middle East.
As you sample stuffed meats and veggies and watch the cooks at work, you’ll feel like you’re inside a true Italian trattoria. There’s also all your favourite pizza and spaghetti, presented in a “rustic, casual elegance” as the restaurant describes.
The best part? For those looking for a late-night snack, Altopiano is open till 1am.
Bujairi Terrace, Diriyah, @altopiano.sa (055 339 8229).
Your hunt for a superb supper has come to an end; one awaits you just beyond the doors of The Ritz-Carlton Riyadh. Azzurro’s carefully curated menu celebrates both seasonality and Sardinia (its chef comes directly from the island) with dishes such as balsamic vinegar pappardelle, malloreddus (a classic Sardinian pasta) and the signature culurgiones ogliastrini: Sardinian ravioli with a vibrant fresh mint, lime zest, and butter. They also serve pizza and spaghetti, as well as meat, fish, and vegetable dishes for a memorable supper.
The Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, Al Hada, ritzcarlton.com (011 802 8333).
Cipriani is an institution in the world of great Italian cuisine. Its restaurants, which can be found in London’s Mayfair, Monte Carlo, New York, and Dubai, to mention a few, are frequently visited by international jetsetters searching for a place to see and be seen.
Its Riyadh branch is no exception. It’s defined by Murano glass chandeliers, blue and white terrazzo tiles, bespoke leather chairs, and a luxurious menu of Italian classics like homemade buffalo ricotta gnocchi, spaghetti with seafood and cherry tomatoes, and pizza topped with burrata, rucola, and black truffle.
Hittin, cipriani.com (011 277 6700).
Cova is an Italian institution that was created in 1817 by Napoleonic soldier Antonio Cova. It is one of Italy’s oldest pasticcerias and one of Milan’s most prominent restaurants.
Cova Il Ristorante has also become a popular new hangout in Bujairi Terrace. A pared-back menu features a selection of Mediterranean snacks and continental side dishes, as well as daily chef specials and traditional Milanese options such as mozzarella and tomato focaccia, chicken and avocado croissants, and a cream cheese and truffle toastie. Top service is among the finest in Diriyah.
After your dinner, you may relax on the pasticceria’s terrace with coffee and Italian sweets.
Bujairi Terrace, Diriyah, pasticceriacova.com (92 003 3772).
If eating hearty Italian cooking is high on your list of things to do, make a reservation at Madeo. This classic Italian restaurants in Riyadh has made its way to Via Riyadh from warm Los Angeles.
The renowned restaurant specialises in typical North Italian cuisine such as fresh Dover sole, pasta bolognaise, breaded chicken, and its famous Italian millefoglie with layers of custard.
Take a seat in the semi-open kitchen and watch as chefs use their imagination to create delicacies based on family traditions passed down through generations.
Via Riyadh, Al Hada, coolinc.com.sa (013 663 7000).
For the previous 36 years, London’s Santini restaurant has been a solid favourite on the city’s dining scene, so we had great hopes when it opened its doors at Laysen Valley. Fortunately, it did not disappoint.
An open kitchen, designed as an intimate environment where family-style dining is encouraged, enabling visitors to interact with cooks from the comfort of their high-backed seats and banquettes.
The extensive menu includes items such as crab salad and handmade fettuccine lobster, as well as Milanese Santini and truffle mushroom lasagna. The restaurant’s furnishings are inspired by the artichoke, and there are several allusions throughout.
Laysen Valley, @santini.riyadh (92 000 8796).
Signor Sassi’s London branch has welcomed everyone from kings to celebrities throughout the years, who come in droves for basic Italian classics prepared to perfection.
It’s no wonder that the Riyadh branch is filled to the rafters almost every night of the week, with well-heeled guests delighting in over 100 different delicacies, including creamy burrata, gorgeously blistered pizzas, spicy seabass, and luscious fillet of steak, to mention a few.
This location is ideal for special events, and you will never forget your time there. Your table will be well-tended to regardless of how crowded or buzzy the rest of the guestlist is.
As Sulimaniyah, signorsassi.sa (92 001 1877)