Cinque Sensi

Fine Italian dining at a reasonable price in Souq Waqif
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Time Out Says

I am committed to my Italian eating experience – I love it, and will satisfy cravings with whatever means necessary, even stooping to cans of Chef Boyardee spaghettios in a crisis. And of there’s one thing Doha isn’t short on, it’s Italian restaurants, of which Cinque Sensi is just one.

Located in one of the quieter corners of Souk Waqif, it’s still an ideal spot for people watching. Inside, it’s all cool crisp white linens and minimalist lines, casual but with an elegant feel that’s a little romantic without being pushy about it. We opt to sit on the outdoor patio to enjoy the night air.

Before we’ve even unfurled our napkins, the manager arrives. Despite hailing from Lebanon, he greets us like the stereotypical Italian Mama – warm hellos and offering to whip us up something special in the kitchen. At first, I think this is because my dining companion is a local celebrity – as the reigning Miss Oktoberfest, such effulgence is expected. But then I overhear him greet other tables equally warmly, and I realise that’s just how this place is. Warm, friendly, and with an excellent bread basket. As we contemplate the menu, a complimentary bread forccacia arrives, pizza crust topped with spices, just because they thought we might enjoy it.

The menu comes in two portions – a la carte and a deceptively massive set menu (I’m told that, unlike normal set menus where you select one dish from the presented options for each course, here they just bring them all for a real family-style feed), offering pastas, meat dishes and pizza by the metre, just as it’s served in Italy. We opt to go for a la carte, and regretfully have to decline the offer to just let them feed us – although next time I’m there, I’m intrigued to see happens. According to frequent-diner friends, it’s the type of place where you’re almost better just letting the manager decide what you want to eat for you.

We go it alone, however, and start with the smoked duck salad with parmesan and the cannelloni. The cannelloni is stuffed with vegetables and topped with sundried tomato puree, and while I’m not a big fan of cold pasta myself, my dining companion easily mops up the entire plate. Myself, I stumble through a very large salad – it’s nice, it’s just that the portions here are very generous. Slivers of smoked duck meat are topped with mixed greens, slices of fresh parmesan, and a sweet oil and vinegar dressing. Although slightly oily, it’s tasty, the flavours all blending and popping together.

But this is Italian food, and we have not come for the salad: it’s pasta we want. My dining companion goes for the mushroom gnocchi, while I try the square-shaped ravioli stuffed with eggplant and topped with goat’s cheese. I’m not typically a gnocchi fan: mostly, I find it either under or over cooked, spongy and tasteless. Not so these – rich and swimming in a delicious mushroom sauce, they’re hearty and full of flavour, and I’m glad my dining companion this time round isn’t stingy with the sharing, because my fork spends some time over on her plate sneaking taste after taste.

My ravioli doesn’t disappoint either – conversation stops in favour of yummy noises and full attention to my plate as we both tuck in. Stuffed with pureed eggplant and encased in fresh pasta, it’s rich, yet not heavy. And the sauce – I need emoticons and dribbling to describe the sauce. The perfect mixture of tomatoes and spices, it’s clearly homemade and I would dearly like a jar of it to take home.

After two courses, we’re pleasantly full but not stuffed – this is a situation the manager is intent on rectifying when he sends over two special desserts, one of which he makes specially for my dining companion each time she comes. A sort of bread pudding topped with sugar, it’s spongy and rich and tastes like something my grandma used to make – the perfect end to a homey meal. The other is chocolate encased balls of ice cream, rich and creamy and a nice, light foil to the cake.

All in all, this may be my new favourite restaurant, although some may be put off by the lack of an alcohol licence. With reasonable prices, a nice atmosphere, and most of all the feeling that should I go again, they promise not just recognise me, but remember my ‘regular’ dish as well. That beats Chef Boyardee any day.

The bill (for two)
1x smoked duck QR45
1x cannelloni QR45
1x ravioli QR52
1x mushroom dumplings QR56
1x large water QR14
1x mint lemonade QR19
1x grenadine QR19
Total (incl charges) QR250

By Time Out Doha staff  | 30 Dec 2010

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Payment OptionsCash, Credit Card
12:00 PM to 11:59 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM to 11:59 PMMonday: 12:00 PM to 11:59 PMTuesday: 12:00 PM to 11:59 PMWednesday: 12:00 PM to 11:59 PMThursday: 12:00 PM to 11:59 PMFriday: 12:00 PM to 11:59 PMSaturday: 12:00 PM to 11:59 PM
Show number 4443 2999
Doha, Jasra, Al Jasra, Doha, Qatar

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