Il Teatro

A refined menu takes centre stage at the Four Seasons hotel Reviews

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Some people will only eat Italian food in Italy. There is something to be said for this stance; Italian food will always taste better in Italy. Food, like wine, absorbs the surrounding air, and Middle Eastern air does have a distinctly different quality than European. But when you live in Qatar and crave a magnificent plate of spaghetti al Pomodoro Fresco e Basilico, what to do?

Il Teatro is one solution, an upscale Italian restaurant in the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel. Everything about this place, from the gigawatt chandeliers to the plush carpets, exudes extravagance, not something often associated with good Italian food, but then Il Teatro doesn’t claim to be traditional; positioning itself as ‘contemporary Italian’. We settle ourselves into the deep chairs near the windows looking out onto the Corniche, as dhows with twinkling lights float by.

When our antipasti arrives, it captures our full attention; mixed rucola salad with cherry tomatoes and shaved parmesan for me. My dining partner figures you can always tell a restaurant by their calamari and chose the deep-fried calamari rings with tomato sauce and mayonnaise. Have you ever seen mayonnaise on an Italian menu? We were unsure.

The display of food has more in common with French haute cuisine than peasant Italian, but from the first bite the origins of this table are clear. Rucola so fresh it almost bites back, cherry tomatoes that squirt in your mouth, and balsamico. And to our surprise, and vast approval, the calamari wasn’t overcooked. This is very good food. Excellent, even.

The appetisers did their job, and our mouths were salivating for more. Next up: pasta. In my opinion, the best pasta I ever had ever eaten was prepared by my Italian neighbor – she mixed flour with water, took a rolling pin to it, and a few days later we had a sumptuous meal with freshly-made tomato sauce. My standards are high.

The linguine with pan-seared, local sardine, anchovies and toasted pine nuts cosied right up to my standards and gave them a pat on the head as they rose above. The linguine was cooked to an absolutely precise al dente. Unfortunately, the mozzarella ravioli with black olive pesto in tomato and basil broth sounded succulent, but didn’t come close – the ravioli was tough and the mozzarella chewy. The pesto, in contrast, was perfect, but swirled the plate more as decoration than a complimenting sauce. This might be where the ‘contemporary’ tag comes in.

As we enjoyed the quiet lull after the primi piatti, the wait staff enquired as to whether we would like the secondi in 10 minutes or if we would like to wait a bit longer – just one example of how impeccable the staff were; they were visible without being intrusive. Aware when we emptied our plates, but refraining from immediately whisking them away. The wait staff exuded the confidence of people who know what their job is and do it well, with satisfaction. Not the same can be said of every restaurant in Doha.

The secondi continued in the theme of excellence. The hammour was melt-in-your-mouth-tender on the inside, with the thinnest veneer of crisp on the outside. The roasted duck was perfectly offset with bell pepper chutney, passion fruit and vanilla salt, which tasted as heavenly as it sounds.

For dessert, go for the homemade ice cream. Warm, balsamic strawberries with vanilla ice cream and honey tuile (that French thing kept popping up): exquisite. Next, top off your meal with an Italian espresso – one of the many luxuries worth going back for. And while a meal at Il Teatro won’t ever be mistaken for a visit to Italy, it is a slightly cheaper and rather tasty alternative.

The bill (for two)
2x Still water large QR76
1x Rucola salad QR45
1x Calamari rings QR55
1x Mozzarella ravioli QR70
1x Linguine with sardines QR70
1x Hammour QR110
1x Duck breast QR140
1x Balsamic strawberries QR40
1x Ice cream QR55
1x Espresso QR35
1x Coffee QR35
Total (incl charges) QR731

By Time Out Doha Staff
Time Out Doha,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.

Details

  • Location: Four Seasons Hotel Doha, West Bay, Doha
  • Tel: 4494 8888
  • Travel: Diplomatic Street
  • Website

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User reviews:

Posted by: Fullmoon on 01 Mar ' 12 at 12:11

being an Italian this restaurant is the only real Italian in town, High end! Then there is Cucina, but it's everyday Italian cooking,
All the other restaurant are almost rubish!

Posted by: Wandering Gourmand on 17 Apr ' 11 at 20:26

I would have agreed completely with this review had I read it even a month ago, but I went there last week for the first time since December, and it's undergone a sea change in the food department. We were told that the restaurant has a new chef and what we were about to try was his first menu.

Starting right from the menu, it was an evening to remember.
The dishes on the are imaginative and inspiring, and the presentation is beautiful - and this will explain the 'contemporary Italian' part :-) We were really excited to taste things like guinea fowl with chocolate sauce and ostrich!

Then comes the taste. It is an explosion of flavour!
Between my 3 dining companions and I, we went through 10 dishes, in 3 courses (two of us skipped the pasta course). And the vote about the taste was unanimous. And there comes the 'real' Italian tradition, contemporary restaurant or not :-) In fact, we then did the very unfashionable thing of digging into each other's plates for a taste of all the dishes. If anyone noticed, they were careful not to show it! Even ostensibly simple dishes like the ravioli with aubergine and the tuna tartare turned out unexpected results - outstanding complementing of ingredients and taste. The foie gras with mulled wine sauce was to die for! The stars of the meal were probably the ostrich and the red snapper, the latter with a black couscous that was a real shocker in terms of taste. And the guinea fowl was so delicious!
Unfortunately, we didn't take dessert as we felt that our appetites just couldn't do it justice :-(

Having travelled in Italy extensively, I would say this is right up there with some of my best meals. In fact, we wre told, the menu will be further fine-tuned as they are still working out more imports of fine speciality products from Italy. So maybe on our next trip, we will have more surprises.
The only other 'downer' apart from dessert was that there's no more fried calamari on the menu. But then, to be honest, it has no place on a fine Italian menu of this standard. We'll just take those cravings to TGIF! :-)

It is a carefully thought-out menu, showing refinement in taste, fabulous pairings of flavours within each dish, beautifully-presented and absolutely uncompromising on taste. Combined with the elegant (yet not oppressively so) surroundings and the great Four Seasons service, it was a feast for the senses, and left us with huge grins on our faces. We didn't even begrudge the lighter wallets!
Bravos! We will be back, and this time we will even take dessert.

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