Most people love a good pasta. Nearly everyone loves a great pizza. We all pretend we enjoy the foie gras something-or-other, but, in reality, most of the time we just want a darn good pizza or pasta to fill us up. Although, in Italy, it may be common to have a pasta and a pizza as a primo piatto (first dish) and a secondo piatto (second dish), that may be too much for many of us. That often leaves us with an agonising decision…pizza, or pasta? With that in mind, we bring you the best of both of our favourites from each of these nine restaurants in the city, as well as an interview with Mr Carluccio on his latest book: pasta.
Di Capri Open noon-3:00 pm, 7:00 pm-11:30 pm, La Cigale Hotel, 60 Suhaim Bin Hamad Street, C-Ring Road (4428 8840).
Il primo piatto: Panzerotti Ricotta Ingredients: Ricotta cheese, spinach, salmon tartare, caviar. Pasta lovers can experience a new type of pasta in the “Panzerotti Ricotta.” This dish has been inspired by Japanese cuisine and is from Chef Luca Dal Col’s previous culinary experiences. This dish consists of a fusion of ingredients, including homemade pasta comprising ricotta and fresh spinach, and light lemon sauce in addition to the fresh salmon tartare and lompo caviar as toppings. Price of the dish: QR100
Il secondo piatto: Principessa Ingredients: Shrimps, mascarpone, asparagus, cherry tomatoes. The chef has recently added his special touch to create this gem of a pizza, crafting a new contemporary flavour while using tomato sauce, fresh shrimps, green asparagus and cherry tomatoes and adding mascarpone cheese. It is one of the top selling pizzas at the restaurant and a fresh, seasonal delight, well worth a try. Price of the dish: QR90
Cucina Italian Kitchen Open daily noon-11pm, Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel, West Bay (4419 6100).
Il primo piatto: Gnocchi di ricotta con Agnello e Taleggio Ingredients: Ricotta cheese, lamb ragout, lemon and orange gremolada, Taleggio cheese. This was a childhood recipe of chef Massimiliano Ascione, who tells us a story about the dish. ‘When I was a kid I never ate the potato gnocchi because they were very sticky to the mouth and also, to say the truth, I was not really a fan of potato. During Christmas, while I was at my grandparents’ house, I was sitting at the dining table waiting, like every other year, for the same gnocchi dish. But this year my grandmother came out with a complete surprise that I always remembered. She created a dish especially for me. She combined it with ricotta cheese as well as flour and egg to produce an amazing, mouth-watering dish, full of freshness and taste and this was the ricotta gnocchi I serve today.’ The delicate ricotta cheese in the dish, blending with the sharpness and wild taste of the lamb ragout, is cooked on very slow fire for more than four hours, topped with gratined Taleggio cheese for a belissimo blend, with a lighter feel than traditional potato gnocchi. Price of the dish: QR62
Il secondo piatto: Pizza Aragosta Ingredients: Tomato, mozzarella, lobster, BBQ sauce, Kalamata olives, caramelised red onions. Pizza Aragosta has been created with the concept of offering numerous flavours with different textures and tastes, all in one, so you are tasting many elements in one mouthful. The delicate taste of the lobster, poached and sautéed with smoked BBQ sauce and given some acidity from the Kalamata olives and some sweetness from the red onion, caramelised in honey and brown sugar syrup, makes for an effective blend of flavours to make the dish anything but bland. Pizza Aragosta is something that you don’t find in every pizzeria, taking you straight to Italy if your imagination allows you to. Price of the dish: QR108
Paper Moon Open daily noon-11.30pm, Jaidah Square, Airport Road (4016 6000). Il primo piatto: Gnocchi vedri al gorgonzola con noci Ingredients: Cream sauce, Gorgonzola, walnuts, parmesan cheese. Gorgonzola is one of the most amazing cheeses of Italy, and our opinion at Time Out is that the smellier and sweatier, the better. Combined with cream, the Gorgonzola gives a deep flavour to the pasta sauce in this dish. Gnocchi with fresh spinach is made daily by hand at the restaurant, like grandmothers used to do for Sunday lunch in Italy and it gives that authentic touch to the dish. Before serving, caramelised walnuts are added to give some crispy sweetness. Price of the dish: QR70
Il secondo piatto: Focaccia con mozzarella di bufala, pomodoro fresco e basilica Ingredients: Mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, basil. The simplicity of this dish is the very beauty of it. It is a wonderful, light pizza, using the freshest of ingredients to make the simplest of pleasures. The idea of this pizza was designed for the purpose of serving something crispy, like a focaccia. The pizza dough is seasoned with a touch of tomato sauce and baked in the pizza oven for one minute before adding fresh tomato, fresh buffalo mozzarella and baking again for another minute, until the mozzarella warms up but is not melting. It is then dressed with olive oil and basil. The crispy pizza is a firm favourite with the punters, and us. Price of the dish: QR70
Trattoria Open daily 4pm-11pm, Concorde Hotel, Airport Road (4407 3333). Il primo piatto: Spaghetti all’Arigosta Ingredients: Lobster, shrimps, fennel, tomatoes. Spaghetti with lobster is a traditional recipe of Sardinia. It is a dish suitable for those who want to combine the unique taste of the lobster with the full body of spaghetti. The soft flesh of a lobster is served with a tomato sauce that binds these flavours to make one of the most appealing pasta dishes in Doha, letting the seafood do all the talking. Price of the dish: QR99
Il secondo piatto: Gamberetti pizza Ingredients: Shrimps, garlic, oregano, olives, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, mozzarella, parsley. The Gamberetti shrimp pizza is a crowd-pleasing combination of garlicky, caramelised shrimps, fresh broccoli, green and yellow bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, wild mushroom and sweetcorn on a bed of traditional tomato sauce. It is a safe bet to try, combining a wide variety of vegetables, along with freshly seasoned shrimps and topped with parmesan and mozzarella cheese. You can take the shrimps off and make it an ideal pizza for a vegetarian, too. Price of the dish: QR75
Lo Spaghetto Open daily noon-11pm, Sadd area, (4434 1601). Il primo piatto: Spaghetti frutti de mare Ingredients: Shrimps, calamari, mussels, cuttlefish, basil, pachino (cherry) tomatoes, garlic, onion. Ingredients from the ground and the sea collide together to make an explosion of seafood pasta. You know this restaurant is good by the guests that frequent it (many are Italian), and this dish is a particularly popular one at the eatery. Using a special fish stock to increase the flavour and a little tomato sauce to give the dish a sunset colour and basil to give it an extra fresh taste, the dish is a sure hit. Furthermore, the use of both onion and garlic gives the dish an extra lift and even more flavour. Price of the dish: QR69
Il secondo piatto: Sorrentina Ingredients: Mozzarella, basil, tomato, oregano. Many of our favourite pizzas in this feature tend to be the simplest. Here, the freshness of the tomatoes and the milk of the mozzarella are given a lift by the basil and oregano. There’s a reason why chef Alessandro calls Lo Spaghetto the ‘House of the Italians’ and it is pictured right here, with taste and simplicity combining to make excellence. A little olive oil on the top and the delightful dish is complete. Price of the dish: QR60
Vapiano Open Sat-Wed 11am-11pm, Thu 11am-1am, Fri 1pm-1am, Gate Mall, West Bay, (4407 7188). Il primo piatto: Ratatouille Ingredients: Tomato sauce, aubergine, courgette, white onion, peppers, heart artichoke, rosemary, Grana Padano. Tangy red and yellow peppers, crunchy cubed fresh courgettes, sour artichoke hearts, soft cubed aubegine and diced white onion make this pasta a perfect dish for the vegetarians, omitting meat but in no way skimping on flavour. Add to that an odorous rosemary bunch and the dish is as aromatic as it is aesthetically colourful, and just at pleasing to the palate, to match. Price of the dish: QR55
Il secondo piatto: Pesto con spinaci Ingredients: Pesto, mozzarella, baby spinach leaves, tomatoes. Inspired by fresh, none-too-heavy ingredients, this is about as healthy as you can get for a pizza, packed with vitamins and also vegetarian friendly. As well as the practicalities of the meal, it’s also a very clean and light pizza that won’t leave you feeling bloated, and packed with flavour. The pesto and spinach work well together to give a strong, fresh flavour and it is a good choice to take on the menu. Price of the dish: QR35
Italian Job Open daily 6pm-11pm, Radisson Blu Hotel, Salwa Road (4428 1428). Il primo piatto: Spaghetti alla chitarra con aragosta in crema d’aglio Ingredients: Lobster, cherry tomatoes, onion, garlic, parsley. A very easy weeknight meal, the onion and garlic add a real depth of flavour to the dish and complement the seasoned lobster to create a very simple, but very flavoursome, meal. The cooking cream adds an essential element to the meal, but does not detract from the natural and simple flavours emanating from it. Price of the dish: QR80
Il secondo piatto: Pizza Boscaiola Ingredients: Beef sausage, mozzarella, mushrooms. Instead of a classic tomato sauce, this dish has a mushroom based sauce with subtle herby flavours and a crispy crust, making the Boscaiola very familiar for Italians. The roasted mushroom slices enhance the taste of the pizza immeasurably, imparting enough personality to stand up to the spiciness of the chilli flakes and the flavourful red onion and sausage. It is one of the most popular dishes at the restaurant, with cheese placed over the sausage but under the mushroom slices. Baked until the crust is golden and the cheese has melted, this pizza is well worth trying. Price of the dish: QR50
La Piazza Open daily 7am-midnight, Al Bidda Boutique Hotel, Souq Waqif (4433 6666). Il primo piatto: Homemade Panzerotti pasta Ingredients: Mixture of seafood, cherry tomatoes, basil. With homemade pasta, stuffed with a seafood melee of shrimp, lobster, mussels, salmon, hammour and squid and complemented by a homemade sauce and cherry tomato compote, this dish is a sure winner. It’s all served with extra virgin olive oil and is a traditional dish of Sicily, and one that must be tried in Doha. Price of the dish: QR85
Il secondo piatto: Quattrostagioni or ‘Four Seasons’ pizza Ingredients: Tomato sauce, mozzarella, smoked turkey, artichoke, mushroom, black olives. This is the chef’s signature pizza because each quarter of the pizza has a topping which corresponds to a particular season of the year. The artichokes represent spring, the olives summer, the mushrooms autumn, and the turkey ham or smoked turkey winter. These items are available all-year-round, but their traditional association with the seasons represents what time of the year these foods are typically harvested and preserved, making it not only a novel idea, but a tasty and varied treat. Price of the dish: QR65
Carluccio's Open daily 8am-midnight. 17 La Croisette, The Pearl (6690 1777). Il primo piatto: Gnocchi Sorrentina Ingredients: Tomato, basil, onion. The potato balls are simply accompanied by tomatoes, basil and finely chopped onions to make a dish so simple, yet addictive. The lemon oil and fresh basil also come through, adding an extra depth of flavour. Price of the dish: QR65
Il secondo piatto: Carne mista Ingredients: Veal sausage, meatballs, spicy salami, mushrooms, tomatoes. One for the meat lovers, the carne mista is left to prove for 24 hours and is meticulously prepared. It is newly launched on the menu and the three accompaniments of veal sausage, meatballs and spicy sausage mean it is a true festival of all things protein. Cooked with mushrooms and mozzarella, it is a popular pizza on the menu and a great meat feast to round off our favourite pastas and pizzas in the city. Buon apetito! Price of the dish: QR64