We ate at Da Maria a couple weekends ago. The decor is fantastic but the food is lacking a bit, in my humble opinion. I love Italian food. In fact, I even cheated and ate some very glutinous things while we were there (and I regretted this severely later).
The food does seem to be quite authentic, although I am not exactly sure which region of Italy they seem to be choosing their cuisine from. Most of us who don't live in Italy have a very different idea of what Italian food is. It's usually quite basic and most dishes do not have a whole lot of ingredients in them. So I would say that there style is authentic but again, as to which region, I am not sure of.
I had the tortelloni (as did Nico) and it was good but was lacking in flavor or spice. I know it was definitely lacking in those things for Nico as he's become a yaji addict since living in Nigeria, but even for me it was lacking at least nutmeg and maybe some garlic or red pepper flakes. The prices are a bit too high in my opinion, even though making a restaurant in Abuja work and with the cost of importation, but in my opinion the cost isn't really worth it. You can make really good Italian food without importing EVERYTHING and it doesn't have to cost a lot per dish either.
We had two appetizers and there was no balsamic vinegar on the caprese salad (which I don't like anyway but that was strange as it is a basic ingredient and the boys tried the balsamic on the table and said it was either sour or to wine-like tasting, so it's probably for the best anyway).
We all had desserts. The desserts are definitely imported, possibly from Italy. The hostess (possibly owner or one of them) is not very good at translating the desserts from the book and I took the pistachio dessert, as she described it, but it turned out to be fig and I do think it was a bit old because it almost tasted slightly fermented. Nico's too also tasted fermented or slightly sour. The desserts were all at least 1000 plus naira in cost. It would be nice if they would make them locally instead of importing them and charging people ludicrous amounts and having fresh desserts.
They change their menu daily, which is something I do like. But over all, it was just an okay dining experience, that was over-priced (but that is typical here in Nigeria and especially in Abuja). They serve a lot of steak on the menu but I still recommend going to Obudu over Da Maria because the price is less and you get so much for what you pay for at Obudu in the Sheraton.
I have yet to go to Ciao or La Dolce Vita (but I think they might have closed down). Risotto remains to be one of my favorite dishes and they did not have it while we were there and I make it so well anyways, there isn't much need for me to eat it while I am out anyway. I will post some pictures later in different posts.
Sent from my BlackBerry® Smartphone, from Etisalat. Enjoy high speed internet service with Etisalat easy net, available at all our experience centres