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FACT Review: Simple Italian staples executed with flair at Morini Riyadh

If you’re craving pasta in a plush setting, make a beeline for this New York-style Italian restaurant.

Riyadh’s Hittin had firmly established itself as a dining hub in recent years, with the likes of Cipriani and MNKY HSE setting up shop in the vibrant neighbourhood. Yet, one spot that captured FACT’s attention on our most recent visit to Riyadh was the charming Morini in Riyadh Boulevard.

The New York Italian restaurant forms part of Jareed Hotel, offering a day-to-night dining destination where guests can enjoy a bountiful breakfast amongst hand-painted frescos, a leisurely lunch beneath an Amalfi-inspired lemon tree, or witness the restaurants transformation into something altogether more refined after dark.

Morini Riyadh

The restaurant is a partnership with Atelier House Hospitality, the group behind Dubai’s 11Woodfire, Marea, Mohalla and RSVP. And the brands Midas touch extends to Morini, which already has a popular following with locals and celebrities in New York, Miami, Washington DC and Istanbul.

For the brand’s first location in the Middle East, Morini Riyadh combines the buzz of New York with simple Italian dishes served in an elegant setting. The effortlessly chic restaurant boasts Art Deco vibes, from curved mirrors behind the bar to gold accents and hand-painted frescos on the terrace. The slick décor combines clean white walls with bold navy tiles and tables topped with freshly pressed table clothes and glittering silverware. There’s even a private dining room on the mezzanine level.

Morini Riyadh

During the dinner service, this New York Italian restaurant truly shines, with the atmospheric dining room of lemon trees and a sweeping spiral staircase providing a picture-perfect backdrop for a memorable meal of pizza, pasta and plenty of protein. At Morini Riyadh, you can try Italy’s exquisite cross-regional flavours across signature dishes such as Lobster Ravioli in a tomato and chilli basil sauce, golden seared salmon with asparagus, gnocchi in Pomodoro sauce and, of course, tiramisu.

We begin with the Grilled Octopus (SAR 80), a generous and meaty tendril served on a bed of fava bean puree that results in a robust dish. The thinly sliced Wagyu Beef Carpaccio (SAR 80) topped with pickled shimeji mushroom, capers and mascarpone goes down a treat, as does the crisp frito misto (SAR 80), combining lightly battered shrimp, calamari and zucchini. 

Morini Riyadh

With pasta, flatbreads and risotto vying for attention, we opt for the remarkably tender Baked Wagyu beef short ribs (SAR 200) for our main course. Served with roasted vegetables and a spiced sauce, the meat slides easily off the bone before melting in the month. The Grilled Lamb Chops (SAR 140) served with eggplant caponata, panisse and a vibrant mint jus are another popular choice.

With only four dessert options available, including the aforementioned Tiramisu (SAR 40), Gelato (SAR 30) and Semifreddo (SAR 35), we select the Bombolini (SAR 40). These mini doughnuts served with dark chocolate sauce and lemon granita are the perfect accompaniment to an after-dinner coffee while watching Riyadh Boulevard come to life. 

Morini Riyadh

Morini makes its mark amidst the Saudi capital’s heavily saturated Italian dining scene. While the charms of Italian dishes show no sign of slowing, Morini continues to impress with its friendly service, chic dining room and simple Italian staples executed with flair. 

If you’re looking for a slice of Italy in Riyadh, we’ve found just the spot.

GO: Follow @moriniriyadh on Instagram for more information.

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David Tapley - Editor-in-Chief
As editor-in-chief of the region’s most fiercely local lifestyle publication, David is a self-proclaimed hip-hop aficionado, championing all things food, travel, street art, and streetwear across the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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