Given this review is based on a dinner with friends, I could start with a tired old reference to Sex and the City/Bridget Jones, perhaps some handbag innuendo and talk about frivolous gossip etc etc.
But as a writer I’m not that lazy.
Even if there was a “Mr Big” (or Mr. Very Small in this case), some quite attractive men and a sports celebrity at the next tables during this review.
The fact is, this was a simple and fabulous dinner with friends. More Dorothy Parker than Wannabe Carrie.
Anyone who has seen Sex and the City 2 in all its’ cliched and consumerist fancy will understand my aversion to these comparisons in life and the media.
The excuse for this mid-week event was not to enact the desert scene from the aformentioned movie, but to try the new Italian restaurant in town La Spiga at W Doha.
It was originally an intimate group of three, but expanded to include two amazing friends who were also in house that night. As is so often the case, the best nights are spontaneous and this Tuesday night (it’s the new Thursday) was one to remember for the food and conversation.
Think Algonquin Round Table Meets Buzzfeed
It seems that the foodie brigade and our assorted hangers on have been waiting for this place to open since, oh…Bucks Fizz were number one in the UK.
It’s not that we have a shortage of Italian restaurants in Doha, it’s just that we have a dearth of GOOD ones. Case in point – one restaurant has singing waiters on roller skates while another thinks that avocado should be served hot.
There is no hot avocado served here.
It is the latest outpost in the Paper Moon empire that stretches from Istanbul to Milan.
As our party swelled to five, we were offered an opportunity to try a “taste” of the menu’s greatest hits.
Starters and appetizers run the gamut from traditional carpaccio through to my nemesis – burrata. That cream filled cheesy goodness that frankly I want to eat as my last meal.
We were offered burrata with roasted peppers and baked tomato with pesto. It’s a perfect storm of Mediterranean flavors.
The Vitello Tonato – thin slices of veal with a tuna and caper sauce divided the table. There is an Australian aversion to creamy seafood and red meat being mixed on one plate. I was a skeptic, but will have to say, this almost won me over. The saltiness of the capers works with the richness of the veal. Others at the table were not so sure however it should be said I probably wouldn’t choose this dish independently.
Much has been written around this venue’s pizza oven – it’s spherical and is basically a giant disco ball. And it has to be noted that what it produces is equally flashy.
A crowd favorite however was the truffle pizza – a white pizza base topped with wafer thin slices of mushroom and truffle oil. Another winner was the bresciola pizza – imagine a slimmed down supreme pizza, but oh so much better.
I’m a girl of simple tastes. Even simpler since I have been on a healthy living push. So I had been saving my calories and my brownie points for this special night.As a result I allowed myself a little indulgence and a couple of bites of the stunningly unctuous home made papardelle with smoked beef.
Trasy the W’s sommelier described this dish as “what the staff love to eat”. That’s recommendation enough for me. Imagine every really bad cream pasta you have ever been served in your life. This tastes NOTHING like them.
The same goes for the home made ravioli with cheese filling. I tasted a tour of Italy in those parcels including some ricotta and parmesan.
In my homeland, a schnitzel and a beer is a good Sunday afternoon lunch. I have been known to enjoy a schnitzel, although this more sophisticated version, Veal Milanese still hit the spot, managing to make me deliriously happy yet homesick all at once.
Readers of this blog know I am not one for dessert. If offered the choice I go for cheese or the cheque…but the desserts here are worth breaking my hard and fast rules.
the pineapple carpaccio made me feel better about my diet sins, but the real winner for me was the pannacotta. What’s not to love about wobbly vanilla “custard”?
The W Doha has rightfully earned its place as the city’s hot spot. It was a Tuesday night and the joint was pumping – a global sports star at one table, a well known CEO at another as well as tables of happy couples and larger groups truly enjoying the good food and buzzy atmosphere.
Service is another aspect the W prides itself on. We enjoyed the friendly attention of pocket rocket Maya who showed that it was worth waiting to get the concept right – well trained, she was knowledgeable about the menu which is always half the battle.
A special note about Trasy the sommelier who was our “host” for the evening – choosing a cheeky Italian wine and making sure we tasted the best of the menu.
Doha is a city where it is not uncommon to spend $US80 on a steak so I was more than a little relieved to see the pricing at La Spiga is competitive. Appetizers range between QR60 to QR90 and mains Qr80 to QR150 for the “imported” fish dishes. A well thought through wine list rounds out the experience.
Good things come to those who wait. We waited for a great Italian restaurant in Doha. We waited for La Spiga to open. And I waited weeks since opening to try it.
I’m an impatient girl but am willing to change after this experience.
Verdict: Something for everyone on this menu of crowd pleasers from simple pastas through to more adventurous terrain. Authentic Italian food delivered with style and warmth.
La Spiga by Paper Moon
Located at the W Doha Hotel & Residences
West Bay, Doha, Qatar
Phone: (974) 4453 5000 ·
Fax: (974) 4453 5354 ·