Il Teatro

New chef, new breath of life for this classic Italian restaurant Reviews

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Italian cooking is rooted in two fundamental things: fresh ingredients and a healthy respect for them. The newly appointed chef de cuisine at the Four Seasons Doha’s Il Teatro seems acutely aware of this. Yes, Marco Arlotti is Italian – that helps. But what impresses most is how he has single-handedly injected new life into this staid restaurant with his food.

We’re stating it up front: the interiors could do with some sprucing up. The carpeted flooring and draping valances transport us a few decades back when hair styles were too big and shoulder pads no different. That said, it’s part of the appeal. We choose a window-side table with pleasant views of the gardens outside, regretting that the weather would not permit the lovely patio seating.   

And our culinary adventure begins. First: soft shell crab, lightly fried with a crispy coating. A bite in, and we’re smitten – the crab meat is briny, sweet and luscious. We also order the seared scallops, cooked to the exact point where the outside turns golden and the middle remains tender. They’re served with a passion fruit pulp, the fresh citrus tones balancing the saltiness of the sauce and producing a beautifully balanced starter.

By the time our primi of lobster rigatoni arrives, we are beaming without shame. Each tube of pasta is gorgeously al dente, soft yet resisting. It’s doused with a rich tomato-based sauce full of little chunks of lobster. No element overpowers the other. The sweetness of the tomatoes and the brine of the lobster meat are married together with hints of fresh herb. The dish is without question a masterpiece.  
So far, our three seafood dishes eclipse the osso buco. The stewed veal is indeed full of flavour, but isn’t as tender as we like. Still, all is forgiven when the branzino arrives. The sea bass is paired with ginger spinach and fried leeks. The combination is superb, again demonstrating the chef’s magic with ingredients.

If we can impart some advice, it’s to save room for dessert. Particularly the tiramisu. Although the classic meal-ender is served in a martini glass – our biggest gripe because of how it throws off the ratio of lady fingers to mascarpone – it tastes exquisite. The robustness of the coffee rises above the fluffy whipped cheese and cream. We nod happily. Just as we begin to deliberate if this takes the trophy for the best tiramisu in Doha, we hit the bottom of the glass. We kick ourselves for ordering only one. 

The proof, as the saying goes, is in the pudding.

The bill (for two)
1x Capesante 
QR125
1x Moeche fritte  QR125
1x Rissotto citrus  QR75
1x Rigatoni astice  QR100
1x Branzino cileno QR170
1x Osso buco  QR200
1x Chef’s tiramisu  QR50
1x Mango lasagne  QR50
2x Large water  QR60
2x English breakfast tea QR80
Total QR1,035

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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