The joys of life in Bahrain took a new twist at the weekend when my son, Stan Jnr, announced that he was celebrating his 16th birthday over two days with quite legitimate reasons too.
He was born at 10pm UK time which meant he wouldn’t have been born until 1am the following day in the kingdom he has called home for the past 12 years.
So, on Thursday, he celebrated his UK birthday at a house party with friends and on Friday night he joined his parents for a feast in Juffair at The Red Plate vino and pasta restaurant in the Best Western Plus - The Olive Hotel.
I first visited this delightful dining destination as opening preparations were taking place in January. The aim was to serve the unique taste of Italian food with an American spin.
The menu has been developed by American/Italian Executive Chef Matthew Capozzi. His brother Bud, owner of the famed Capozzi Pizzeria in New York, made a flying visit to offer support. The duo trained the kitchen team and it should be acknowledged that both did a stunning job.
Chef Matthew was on his day off and we were placed in the more than capable hands of Chef Selva, who stepped over from Big Texas Barbeque & Waffle House, the sister outlet owned by restaurateur Milly and logistics businessman Radford Cox, to join the launch team.
The restaurant is already famed in the culinary scene for three reasons in particular, its mighty meatballs, perfect pizza and gorgeous garlic knots … but there’s so much more on the menu that cannot be ignored. But let’s start with the dishes that have seen the place packed with diners in such a short space of time.
The freshly-baked knots (BD1.900) are tossed in garlic, smell divine and taste even better dipped in olive oil, parmesan cheese and the restaurant’s signature home-made tomato sauce. Well worth breaking your Keto Diet on a cheat day!
We also shared a Vegetarian Pizza (BD4.800). At 16-inches it’s big enough to feed a whole family. The Red Plate uses a brick oven so it’s baked from the bottom up, making for a nice crispy bottom. If you can pick up a slice and it sticks straight up, you know it’s cooked correctly.
The good lady wife, Kathryn, went for Fried Calamari and Greek peppers served with lemon wedges and marinara sauce (BD5.400) which we all tucked into and I went for amazing beef Meatballs, served with the signature tomato sauce, of course (BD4).
So impressed by the taste sensation and the fact that I had eaten most of them, Stan Jnr chose the Spaghetti and Meatballs (BD5.600) as his main course.
This is where Kathryn and I got adventurous and both ordered off the Chef Specials list – Baked Sea Bass (BD13.400) infused with lemon, garlic, dill and capers and served with my favourite of all greens, asparagus. Instead of mashed potatoes, on the suggestion of restaurant manager, Quintin Minnaar, we went for something different. Kathryn was convinced it was a serving of savoury rice but my culinary nose, now finely-tuned about decades as a food-reviewer, knew our taste buds were being teased and sure enough, the rice-shaped side was, in fact, pasta.
Quintin, a master of information, was mightily impressive with a welcoming smile and good humour. The South African helped with a restaurant opening team at the giant Burj Khalifa in Dubai before settling in Bahrain with his wife, Olivia and children, Hendrik, seven, and Wouter, five. The couple has a third child on the way so it was congratulations all round as he bought a candle-lit birthday dessert for our Stan.
The Tiramisu (BD4.900) – how can you possibly go to an Italian restaurant without tasting this stunning layered coffee dessert? It was terrific and the vanilla Panna Cotta with berry sauce (BD3.400) was sensational too.
Prices are subject to a five per cent government levy but all dishes on the menu were competitively-priced and the portions particularly impressive. You really won’t leave hungry!
I’m already eyeing the menu for my next visit as I missed out on the selections of salads, the soups and the USDA prime steaks. One Rib-Eye was being served on a neighbouring table and looked extremely enticing.
Preparations are also in full swing for marking the venue’s first Mardi Gras Week, added Quintin, which starts tonight and runs until March 5. It’s an event celebrated across the US but nowhere better than New Orleans with its colourful carnival, parades and fine food full of traditional Cajun flavours.
Don’t miss the Jambalaya being freshly prepared throughout the occasion by Chef Matthew. It’s a Louisiana-origin dish of Spanish and French influence, consisting mainly of shrimps, chicken and vegetables mixed with rice.
We’ll be back sooner than I thought!
For more details call 17360061.
Stanley Louis Szecowka
Editor/Journalist & Blogger, Restaurant & Motors Reviewer, FinTech Writer, Manager, Trainer.
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