Review: L’Orto, Bahrain: Susy Massetti Shines Brightly
Review: L'Orto, Bahrain: Susy Massetti Shines Brightly
L’Orto, five dishes, two glasses of wine, 1 mocktail, 1 large sparkling water: BD 81 (including taxes and service). Antipasti: BD5-12, mains: BD 12 - 62, desserts and cheese: BD 5-9. The wine starts from BD5.5 by the glass. L’Orto, Road 3931 Building 119, Block 338 Manama, 338, Bahrain. +973 6673 3345 for WhatsApp bookings. +973 1777 7818 for calls. L’Orto’s Instagram. Prices and details are true at the time of dining.
Written by Liam Collens // See other reviews here.
L'Orto by Suzy Massetti in Manama, Bahrain, delights with Italian dishes cooked capably and sourcing local produce. I can't wait to come back.
Susy Massetti charms and delights, makes sure to catch time with her
Do not overlook L'Orto's Seasonal Menu
The Wine by the Glass Menu, especially the Coravin by the Glass Menu
Outside al fresco dining, even in the warmer months
The traffic getting in and out of what must be Bahrain’s busiest road (plan your journey ahead)
Some bones remained in the sea bream
Review: L'Orto, Bahrain: Susy Massetti Shines Brightly
I also spend weekends delving into the art of pasta making at home. Working fresh pasta dough and gallivanting across the Italian countryside revealed a lot. An expert, I am not, in buying homes or making pasta. However, both endeavours calcified an impatience toward certain frivolities. I am less tolerant of banal pan-Italian eating: you know, hotel late-night room service, airport lounges or mediocre burrata-filled tropes. Those culinary corners where finesse and imagination wither.
The suggestion of an Italian restaurant in Bahrain left me slightly grimacing, especially in the swanky part of Manama where Saudis flock for the sort of things Saudis cannot get in Saudi. L’Orto was not a total gamble. Hungry Fifi on Twitter endorsed L’Orto. A Dubai friend knows a guy that recommended L’Orto. Six degrees of recommendation. Actually, one or two degrees; either way, I cannot believe I actually went, but thank God I did.
L’Orto is capable and charismatic, but not over the top
L’Orto’s menus include an a la carte menu and a Seasonal menu that draws on Susy Massetti’s nearby farm.
L’Orto’s menu, food and wine
Our starters of arancini di riso and culurgiones arrive. Bad arancini are stodgy golf balls, but L’Orto makes light work of arancini: browned, crispy, collapsing coating contrasts with an oozy centre – perhaps stuffed with mushrooms and cheese – each shingled with black truffle on a truffle aioli (BD9 for five). The arancini are street food parcels that did well and moved into a good neighbourhood. My culurgiones are rarely seen on menus in Italy so I leap at the chance. Three plump stuffed culurgiones are a substantial starter (BD9). The culurgiones signature pleating shimmers in a pool of sage butter dotted by roasted hazelnuts creating a rewarding crunch. These culurgiones will likely be my favourite pasta dish this year. Inspired, I tried to make culurgiones when I returned to Dubai. Humbled, let’s just say those photos will not see the light of day, but my determination to recreate the magic lives on.
L’Orto’s starters of arancini di riso made with truffle and truffle aioli and stuffed culurgiones with hazelnuts, sage and lemon butter.
As plates are taken away, I debate whether to order wine by the glass from the Coravin menu, especially a few Barolos. I resist as the pricing is a little unclear and, perhaps, a glass starts at BD75? It’s even not clear to me now.
L’Orto offers an extensive wine menu that offers wine by the bottle as well as by the glass including by Coravin-siphoned glass.
L’Orto seems destined to always be busy. An al fresco dining area twinkles romantically under mature olive trees where, looking around, doe-eyed couples coo as, luck has it, L’Orto’s outdoor terrace is also air-conditioned. Single people relax; there’s plenty of space for friendly get-togethers in large groups, solo dining or groups of four. Indoor seating feels slightly more formal for those looking for more special occasions. You want to sit outside: day, night, winter or summer.
L’Orto’s two dining areas are modern, tasteful and slightly juxtapositioned as the indoor decor feels slightly more formal than the al fresco, air-conditioned outside dining.
Distracted from looking around, Mrs Collens’ fettuccine bolognese arrives (BD12). Light, pasta blushing with homemade ragu speckled with the tell-tale threads of slow-cooking with beef fillet vs gnarly ground mince. (I also make ragu like this at home with lamb, veal and/or rabbit, if I can find it). My whole sliver sea bream is placed on the table (BD18). Pearly petals of judiciously-cooked fish peels away from the skin. Fresh herbs and the gentle perfume of anise rises from softened, confit and caramelised fennel bulbs. A generous crush on a roasted lemon wedge mingles sweetness and acidity. There’s plenty of fish for one person; perhaps two people with L’Orto’s confit potatoes or heaped crispy courgettes (BD 4). It’s a testament to why so often less is more when applying good ingredients with care. Sadly, I find myself pulling the occasional clusters of small fish bones from my mouth. A little more attention to the filleting would tip it from nearly great to arguably perfect.
For dessert, we order a duo of hazelnut and Madagascan vanilla gelato (BD5). Perfectly serviceable but Susy, perhaps detecting weakness or regret, sends us home with the Bahraini tart made of the creamiest trinj curd, a Bahraini lemon (BD 5), after a full restaurant tour which includes a sneak look at Blu at L’Orto, which is the sort of place I could sink Amaro until I lose the feeling in my toes.
L’Orto’s light but generously-portions fettuccini bolognese; sea bream with confit & caramelised fennel with herbs; hazelnut and vanilla gelato and a photo of L’Orto’s outside terrace next to the olive tree.
Would I Return to L’Orto?
Who Should Go To L’Orto?
Bahrain visitors looking for good Italian dining. Date night seekers and al fresco diners who want to eat outside in the Bahraini summer. People looking for dinner before creeping upstairs to Blu.