We’re located at Al Mouj Muscat waterfront, towards the Kempinski end of the marina. Call in at (+968) 9425-1562
Less is more, as big flavour meets humble Italian preparation at Al Mouj Muscat’s newest pizzeria-trattoria.
In the culinary canon of comfort food, Italian cuisine writes the book. From its stick-to-your-ribs pastas, mouthwatering pizzas, lush coffee-soaked desserts, and creamy gelato, there’s a reason why Italia reigns supreme.
Travel to Tuscany, Sicily, Puglia and all points in between and you’ll begin to notice a pattern that unfurls – local ingredients, simple preparation, big flavour. Most regions are known for one thing that sets them apart – a signature specialty done well. Puglian burrata, Campanian pizza, spicy fish stew from Ancona – dishes honed to perfection over generations in the kitchens of countless Italian nonnas, with ingredients cultivated locally and tended by the same families whose roots run deep to the land.
It’s a formula for success that may seem like a no-brainer in its simplicity, but it’s more a case of often imitated, never duplicated.
So, it was with stomach’s rumbling that we hit the marina-front walk at Al Mouj in search of a mid-week comfort food takeaway that we could plunk down with in front of Netflix and set the world to rights.
We’d been hearing buzz about a new Italian offering at the far end of the walk serving up authentic, traditional Napoli-style pizza and so it was that we found ourselves walking into Fresco.
Set up like a classic Italian trattoria we’re greeted by an open-plan seating area that boasts a large gelato counter (so many flavours!) and quick grab-and-go Italian sandwiches and pastries.
A long deli-style counter with bar-stool chairs flanks the entrance and the colour palette is vibrant with tones of green, red, and wood that lends a cozy feel to the space. Accent walls of pasta and passata adorn the space to further effect. With plenty of comfy tables in its expansive seating area to dine-in, tonight we’ve got our sights set on a takeaway.
We’re greeting promptly by a friendly hostess who brings us a pair of menus and answers all our questions about what’s good and what’s hot. In the end we settle on a portion of their Lasagna Bolognese to share, a Pizza Capricciosa, and a serving of their signature Nutella Tiramisu.
The food arrived remarkably fast – just ten minutes – and we were soon headed home in short order. Tucking into the Lasagna Bolognese first we were quick to wolf it down. Thin sheets of perfectly toothsome pasta – so thin we took bets that they had to be hand-made – delicately gave way on our fork to reveal warm layers of beef mince in a slightly sweet tomato sauce anchored with ooey-gooey cheese and fresh basil.
It was a hard dish to fault, and it went down a treat. The Pizza Capricciosa on the other hand didn’t hold up as well. If you’re familiar with authentic Napoli-style pies, they’re known for their signature puffy, aerated crusts – billowy and high, with the pie itself stretching thinly towards the centre.
Well, this centre didn’t hold. Though we were just a ten-minute drive from home by the time we opened the box, sadly the pie had lost some of its heat and the centre had become soggy and collapsed. The flavours were all there though, with the delicate tartness of the tomato sauce balancing nicely with the sweetness of the roasted mushrooms and artichokes, and the saltiness of the beef bacon.
Flavour over form, the pie ticked all the boxes, (to Fresco’s credit) – but would have been better consumed dining-in fresh out of the wood-fired oven.
Finishing up with a generous portion of Nutella Tiramisu we’re rendered silent in enjoyment of the task before us. Lush espresso-soaked ladyfinger biscuits have been deftly layered with silky, creamy Nutella-infused mascarpone, luscious cream, and a copious dusting of chocolate cocoa powder. Like we said – the Italians have the market cornered when it comes to comfort food.
It’s refreshing to see more and more new outlets opening up on the far (and less crowded!) end of the Al Mouj boardwalk – and Fresco is a solid foray into the tapestry of Muscat’s Italian casual dining scene. We’ll choose to dine-in on our next visit though!
Al Mouj Muscat waterfront, towards the Kempinski end of the marina
Opening hours: 8:00 a.m. till 11:00 p.m.
Contact: (+968) 9425-1562
Dinner for two: RO15.22
Italian casual dining hero-ing comfort food classics and authentic preparation at a competitive price-point.
Do you have a favourite restaurant that you’d like to see reviewed? Let Y know at email@example.com