Riyadh’s newest high-end dining spot has been hyped as the best Italian experience in town, with a modern take on authentic cuisine prepared by a talented team of Italian chefs.
The restaurant, an offshoot of one of London’s best Italian restaurants, is run under the expert eye of chef Filippo Pagani, who also helps run San Carlo Cicchetti as executive development chef with owners Modern Food Company.
Signor Sassi’s main building, The Villa, has a modern and elegant interior with multiple windows and a glorious skylight that bathes the dining room with natural light. Evenings have a more romantic feel, as diners are treated to dimmer, warmer hues and occasionally live music.
There are more than 130 dishes on the menu and the quality of the fresh ingredients shows.
The signature and most famous dish is the Avocado Bernardo: an avocado base topped with lobster and baby shrimp served with cocktail sauce, introducing the most interesting and fresh combination of flavor.
Octopus salad is a must-try. Fried octopus, octopus, rocket, potatoes, lemon dressing and paprika combine well and build an appetite for your next dish.
Another great starter is the Tuna Bresaola, a dish of cured fish, ricotta, rocket, tomato and a balsamic dressing. A great balance of flavor between the sourness of the dressing and creaminess of the cheese.
The hearty tomato-based Spaghetti Lobster did not disappoint, while the Truffle Pizza may very well be the best in Riyadh, topped with mozzarella cheese, fresh truffle, porcini mushrooms, rocket and parmesan shavings.
The Chef’s Special Creme Brulee, a delightfully thick vanilla custard cream topped with hardened caramelized sugar, is a great send-off after a delicious meal.
The original Italian Tiramisu is also a signature dessert, made with homemade lady finger biscuits soaked in organic coffee with mascarpone cream.
Not all dishes hit the same heights, however. The flavorless Cloud Potato starter was saved only by the garnish of truffle and parmesan. The mushroom risotto, listed as a signature dish, was subpar.
Signor Sassi offers cocktails and drinks themed after a city or area in Italy. The “Milano” is a blend of mango, white peach, lime, freshly squeezed pineapple juice, mint and almond syrup.
The “Rivoli” blends red grape juice with homemade non-alcoholic vermouth, anise, rosemary, lemon, thyme and cinnamon syrup.
The best seller is the Signor Sassi Limonata, made with fresh organic lemon, blue curacao syrup and soda.
As for service, the hosts were somewhat confused about set menu regulations. Reservations are complicated and the restaurant requires guests to pay in advance before they visit.
Regardless of the troubles, the high-end food truly makes up for it — as long as you make the right selection.
Open daily from 1pm to midnight, Signor Sassi is a great addition to Riyadh’s fine-dining options, in a venue with remarkable interior design.