The OHLALA team was treated to an Italian journey of the palate at the revamped Mondo, Taste of Italy restaurant at The Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence & Spa.
Good food and good company are two of life’s simplest yet greatest pleasures. The company was guaranteed and knowing the menu in question was going to be Italian, we had no doubt it would be an unforgettable evening at Mondo. The kitchen is orchestrated by Chef Raffaele, originally from Sicily, who calls on his Italian roots to provide all the authenticity an Italian restaurant needs. He is also responsible for choosing the ingredients that are used in his kitchen, from the organic olive oil, from a small Italian farm where he personally knows the owner, to the original imported tomato sauce and flour used in his dishes. Besides having Chef Raffaele to make sure everything is genuinely Italian; Mondo has received a complete revamp and is now expressing a modern yet cosy and family-driven atmosphere. The star of the place – a Neapolitan brick oven that travelled all the way from Italy to make sure we can get a legitimate Pizza Napolitana in Bahrain.
We arrived at the restaurant at the end of a busy week and were happy to be pampered by Mondo’s friendly team. The enhanced grape drink served to us was organic and vegan from an Italian vineyard in Puglia. An enjoyable blend that was perfect to pair with our food choices. As all memorable meals start, we had a selection of appetisers that are a must-have in every Italian menu. The Burrata Pugliese was a buttery and creamy ball of mozzarella also from Puglia, accompanied by charred bell peppers, olives and delectable eggplant and basil sauces that added a hint of intense flavour to this oozy, melting cheese perfection.
The Carpaccio of Angus Beef melted in the mouth and was made of marinated rare Angus beef, rocket leaves, capers, Parmigiano shavings and a touch of precious truffle oil, which added a distinct flavour. The Octopus Salad was composed of thin octopus slices, green leaves, crispy capers, cherry tomatoes, olives, orange, EVOO (when olives are crushed into a pulp without any chemicals) and lemon dressing. And to please the plantbased diner, the Carpaccio di Verdure made with seasonal, marinated and fireroasted vegetable carpaccio that had an explosion of flavour, highlighting each vegetable in the composition.
It was time to try the most popular dish in Italian cuisine – pizza! And we couldn’t be more excited to appraise the creations of Chef Raffaele and his Neapolitan brick oven. We tried three different flavours. Margherita, with its simplicity and spot-on mix of tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella and basil. Our favourite of the evening, which had one of my dining companions gasping with delight – Tartufo, made with buffalo mozzarella, Parmigiano, generous fresh shavings of black truffle and Porcini mushrooms straight from the Italian grounds. And Pescatora, a tomato pizza with calamari, mussels and prawns with a touch of EVOO and oregano – a must-order for seafood lovers. The dough is exactly what you expect when having pizza as a delicacy; it has that charred flavour from the oven, perfect puffed-up crust and precise texture with not a hint of doughiness.
In the pasta feast, the consistency of the pasta was at the excellency level, not too al dente and far from being too soft. They were just perfect! And we had a good selection to taste. The variety went from simple yet extremely well-seasoned Penne Arrabbiata to Linguine Vongole prepared with clams, EVOO, chilli, cherry tomato, and garlic. Highly recommended by my dining companion, the Truffle & Ricotta Ravioli was definitely a winner. The thin, firm, and well-structured pasta packets were filled with ricotta and fresh black truffle prepared in butter sauce and crispy sage. A dish that got an ovation from the entire table and that you must try when dining at Mondo. Of course, we cannot forget the Risotto ai Porcini which was just the comfort food we were expecting. Beautifully creamy rice richly infused with plenty of parmesan and a generous serving of Porcini mushrooms. Absolute bliss.
The food kept coming, and we kept enjoying every bite. The Carne (meat) and Pesce (fish) arrived, first the Tagliata Prime Rib-Eye with blistered tomatoes and chimichurri sauce that did justice to this fine cut, starring the meat’s succulence. The beef was followed by the Island Style Seabass, giving centre stage to an oven-baked fish with ultra-thin slices of herby potatoes, Heirloom tomato and an earthy and minty touch of thyme – a very traditional dish that was extremely tasty and also beautiful to look at.
To finalise this banquet, we delved into the dessert selection. The famous Cannoli originated in the Sicilian city of Palermo (with a Sicilian chef, it was a must-try), was crispy and filled with sweetened ricotta cheese, candied lemon and orange, pistachio and chocolate drops. A mandatory pick for Cannoli enthusiasts. At Mondo, the vanilla panna cotta is called Espressisimo. Yes, it is made with rich Italian coffee in the form of espresso jelly and coffee granita. Even those that don’t particularly like coffee will fall for it as evidenced by one of our party who found the unadorned panna cotta to be a delightfully creamy treat. And last but not least, everyone’s favourite, the Semifreddo al Limone, a semi-frozen lemon cake, with almond and pistachio crust, summer berries and berry coulis, was the perfect combination of sweet and sharp, an interesting texture combination and a gift to our palates.
We also highly recommend trying the cucumber and mint granita that gives you a wonderful and refreshing sensation after satisfying your cravings for an authentic Italian Osteria experience. The food at Mondo was the exact delight you look for when dining out; now, it is on you to find the best company to fully enjoy some of life’s simplest pleasures.
For more information and to make a reservation, please call Mondo, Taste of Italy at The Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence & Spa on 1753 1666.