An authentic Mediterranean experience in the heart of bustling Al Olaya.
My previous trip to Riyadh included a chance meeting with Busta Rhymes over the breakfast buffet at Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh and a brief encounter with Fat Joe at the Kingdom Centre’s Sky Bridge. So, I was fully prepared for stars in my eyes when I returned to the Saudi capital last month.
The Kingdom has been attracting a wealth of celebrity visitors in recent weeks, from Will Smith in AlUla to Cristiano Ronaldo in Riyadh. So it was just my luck to have missed legendary boxer Mike Tyson by mere moments when I dined at Mamo Michelangelo.
Mamo Michelangelo took up residence inside the fashionable Al Fasaliah Hotel three years ago, and has held a tight choke hold on the Riyadh dining scene ever since. Adoration for the Mediterranean restaurant flows freely throughout the city, and it’s easy to see why.
Staff dressed in sharp suits and pressed shirts exude a sense of charm that is exemplified by the charming restaurant space. Sat beneath lemon trees upon wrought iron terrazzo furnishings, it feels like I’ve been transported to the South of France. I guess that’s the point because Mamo Michelangelo has gone to painstaking lengths to replicate the look and feel of its flagship restaurant, which opened in 1992 in Antibes on the Southern French coast.
It’s a multifaceted space featuring an al fresco terrace and a replica of the small cobbled street on which the original Mamo Michelangelo sits, complete with market-style stalls selling pasta and olive oil. Interiors resemble a grape cellar but are given an upmarket twist with glistening cutlery and shelves stacked with colourful glassware. With a reputation for mixing the best of Italy and the South of France, diners at this Riyadh institution can expect pizzas prepared in the wood-fired oven and a series of pasta dishes, handmade with meticulous precision in-house.
I begin with the Tartare di Orata (SAR 140), a dish of hand-cut Mediterranean sea bream dressed with crunchy vegetables and doused in citrus dressing. The plating is ridiculously pretty, with Mamo’s signature colourful crockery enhancing the visual appeal of an already striking dish. It does not disappoint. The fish remains delicate and is elevated rather than overpowered by the generous citrus dressing. Elsewhere, the creamy Burrata Pugliese (AED 95) is a simple yet effective combination of Apulian Burrata cheese, tomato and basil.
With pizza, pasta and various proteins offered for the main course, I can’t resist the Tournedo Rossini (SAR 495). I find myself immediately enamoured by the tower of tenderloin, foie gras, truffle and Périgueux sauce. Perfectly cooked, it’s a robust dish that starkly contrasts the rich and decadent (but equally good) Truffle Ravioli (SAR 240), where dainty homemade pasta is generously stuffed with Comte cheese, parsley and fresh black truffle.
Mamo Michelangelo’s appealing dessert offering ranges from a Tiramisu (SAR 95), in which the restaurant’s name is traced seductively in cocoa across the top, to the frankly fantastic L’inimitabile torta al Limone (SAR 75). This more than generous slice of lemon meringue tart is plated perfection thanks to a thick biscuit base, zesty filling and sweet yet perfect peaks of Italian meringue.
Mamo Michelangelo brings Italian hospitality and Provençal charm to its charming setting. Colourful crockery, confident service and an ingredient-driven menu combine to create an instantly memorable meal that shows why Riyadh’s status as a dining hub is on the rise.
Reservations are essential.
GO: Visit https://mamo-michelangelo.com for reservations and more information.