Italian celebrity Chef Giancarlo ‘Xbe’ Perbellini is back in the kitchen, doing what he loves best, preparing for this week’s grand opening of his signature restaurant in Bahrain.
The Gulf Hotel Bahrain Convention Centre & Spa’s La Pergola has been rebranded as La Pergola by Perbellini following a stunning BD200,000 redesign and extensive refurbishment, as revealed in GulfWeekly.
To ensure nothing goes amiss, Chef Xbe (pronounced Perbe) has been diligently working with his team of chefs putting the finishing touches to the menu and staging special pre-opening tasting sessions.
“I’m so excited to be here in Bahrain,” he said, “and thrilled at how the restaurant looks. I like it a lot – the combination of the sea and the desert is just as I hoped for and envisaged.”
Beautiful sea-blue walls with matching covered comfortable seats have been cleverly combined with lit golden panels that conjure a vision of bubbles rising from a sea bed. The theme in Chef Xbe’s heart was ‘from the earth to the sea’.
One of the kingdom’s oldest Italian restaurants, which, to be honest, had felt a little staid and dated, has been transformed into a vibrant, airy, cool, comfortable and contemporary dining destination.
The new design of La Pergola by Perbellini has been inspired by his outlet Al Capitan, a winning vibe he wanted to mirror here. As well as celebrating the cuisine, restaurant reviewers have also highlighted its ‘warm and welcoming ambience in the heart of Verona’.
He says the aim was always to create a similar buzz in Bahrain with a feel that encapsulates the desert sands alongside the waves and beauty of the Arabian Gulf.
As well as the look and ambience of the restaurant, he knows Italian food connoisseurs and regulars of the Gulf Hotel outlet will judge him on the quality of the fare on offer.
“We will make something fresh. A new concept – we look at traditional Italian cuisine in a modern way, with our eyes and with our hearts,” he promised. “I believe people in Bahrain will enjoy the experience as we make real Italian dishes full of those familiar tastes but with a twist.”
Amongst the delights delivered during last weekend’s tasting sessions attended by VIPs, ambassadors, business executives and members of the media, was the Risotto alla Milanese, Olio di Finocchio e Arancia, a Milan interpretation of a classic northern Italian rice dish, cooked in a broth dish which results in a divine, thick and creamy concoction, as highlighted in last week’s Eating Out review.
British businessman Stephen Harrison, who was one of the diners last Thursday evening, agreed, telling the chef as he visited the diners to get their reactions: “The risotto … I have been to Milan many times but that was stunning.”
As predicted, the Filetto di Manzo Pire de Patate Affumicate, a divine pan-fried Angus beef fillet placed on a layer of smoked mashed potatoes, alongside olive pesto and slowly-cooked tomatoes, was a main course that also bowled over the guests.
It’s been a busy time for Chef Xbe who also opened a new restaurant in Milan in April to much acclaim. And, of course, the two-Michelin starred culinary king is one of Italy’s most celebrated pastry chefs, a legend amongst his peers. Coming from a long line of pastry makers held in high regard since 1890, he is acclaimed for his desserts.
“That’s still my passion,” he said, shortly after serving an exquisite Meringa, a fresh fruit Panna Cotta-style dessert with meringue.
The culinary celebrations are just about to begin …
THE eating out REVIEW:
TWO-MICHELIN starred Chef Giancarlo Xbe (pronounced Perbe) Perbellini will be landing in Bahrain today to prepare for the grand opening of his latest signature Italian restaurant … and GulfWeekly was invited to get an exclusive look inside and sample a taste of what’s to come.
The Gulf Hotel Bahrain Convention Centre & Spa’s La Pergola has been rebranded as La Pergola by Perbellini following a redesign and extensive refurbishment to the tune of more than BD200,000.
Among the senior new arrivals from Xbe’s established team are restaurant manager Simone Cassago and Chef Matteo ‘Mezz’ Mezzaro and, in recent days, the team has been put through an intensive pre-opening challenge of serving colleagues … and me ... to ensure all members, front-of-house and kitchen culinary conquerors, are up to speed for the big day.
The interior changes, as one would expect from the investment made, is breathtaking. As revealed in GulfWeekly, the new design of La Pergola by Perbellini has been inspired by his outlet Al Capitan in Verona, a winning vibe that has also been mirrored at his recently-opened restaurant in Milan.
As well as celebrating the cuisine, restaurant reviewers have highlighted a ‘warm and welcoming ambience’ and a similar refreshing style has been created in Bahrain to encapsulate the desert sands, alongside the waves and beauty of the Arabian Gulf.
Beautiful sea-blue walls with matching covered comfortable seats have been cleverly combined with lit golden panels that conjure a vision of bubbles rising from a sea bed. One of the kingdom’s oldest Italian restaurants, which, to be honest, had felt a little staid and dated, has been transformed into a vibrant, airy, cool, comfortable and contemporary dining destination.
Full ticks on the ambience score-card and the service was slick, friendly and thoroughly informative, well in keeping with Gulf Hotel’s prize-winning five-star reputation throughout its operation.
The Italians are renowned for their superb warm hospitality and Simone is a master of the craft and proud to wave the flag of friendship. He seemed as excited by the cuisine as Chef Mezz was at producing it.
The taster menu included antipasti, primi piatti, secondi piatti (for those whose Italian is a little rusty, that means appetisers, starters and main courses), alongside a pizza selection and dessert.
My taste buds were tingled by a tiny bite of cream cheese on a crisp called Spuma di Caprino before the star turns were delivered to the table.
These included the Vitello Tonnato - rosé roast veal with foamed eggs, capers and a lip-smackingly lovely tuna cream.
The Parmigiana di Melanzane Moderna was picture perfect, a mountainous joy of fried aubergine (also known as eggplant), buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and olive and basil oil emulsion, a classic Southern Italian dish.
Next step was Gnocchi di Patate Gorgonzola, Pomodoro e Noci, dough dumpling shaped like potatoes, with Gorgonzola, the famous veined Italian blue cheese made from unskimmed cow’s milk, tomato and a sprinkling of walnuts.
Of course, you can’t come to an Italian restaurant without trying a slice of pizza, or two, and yet again, La Pergola by Perbellini, comes up with a unique choice with Pizza Fritta, Promodoro, Bufaa e Acciughe.
This was a first for me; fried pizza with a helping of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, made from the milk of Italian Mediterranean buffalo, and anchovies, toppings warmed by being popped straight under a hot grill. The thin dough base crunched like a poppadum. They were the lightest I’ve ever eaten and I’m informed this is how the first ever pizzas were made. Naughty but nice!
Other dishes shared around the guests on my table included a Risotto alla Milanese, Olio di Finocchio e Arancia, Chef Mezz explained that this was a Milan twist on a traditional northern Italian rice dish cooked in a broth dish which resulted in a divine, thick and creamy concoction. Wonderfully filling.
My main course choice was the Pesto di Olivee Pomodoro Confit, a divine pan-fried Angus beef fillet placed on a layer of smoked mashed potatoes, alongside olive pesto and slowly-cooked tomatoes. I predict this will be the most-sought after dish at this restaurant, an absolute delight.
I was full to bursting and, for a second, considered passing on the pudding. Thankfully, common sense took over and, for the sake of my loyal readers, I decided to have at least one bite of a dessert.
This was another ‘wow’ moment. The Crostata de Frutta Fresca e Crema Pasticcera was a tantalising tart featuring fresh fruit swimming in a vanilla custard. Forget one bite, after the first taste it was soon gobbled up in seconds.
The thing is, Chef Xbe is considered one of Italy’s most celebrated pastry chefs, a legend amongst his peers. Coming from a long line of pastry makers held in high regard since 1890, he is acclaimed for his desserts.
The legacy continues in Bahrain and the great man is going to be so proud of what the team here has started delivering in his name. I bet he can’t wait to join the party. The grand opening takes place soon.
Stanley Louis Szecowka
Editor/Journalist & Blogger, Restaurant & Motors Reviewer, FinTech Writer, Manager, Trainer.
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