A Thursday night is all about happiness – making it through the work week, not having to wake up early the next morning – and how else to celebrate happiness than with Italian food, which is the ultimate comfort food.

And there’s no better way to celebrate the weekend, and Italian food, than enjoying the ‘Eat Like An Italian’ menu at Seasonal Tastes restaurant in The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa. And this is not just our opinion, when we went on Thursday night, the place was fully booked!

‘Eat Like An Italian’ Night is brought to life by Chef Massi – an authentic Italian, cooking authentic Italian food. We had to ask:

Marhaba: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your history of cooking.

I am originally from Italy from a city called Vasto, which is on the seaside of Abruzzo on the Adriatic.  My passion towards cooking started when I was very young, I was so curious to see my mother cooking for the family that my father got me a step to be able to help her and watch her more closely.

Marhaba: What do you like best about cooking and being a Chef?

I have always believed that when cooking you MUST enjoy each moment. You can craft many dishes using a diversity of ingredients; enjoy working in different countries and learn to cook new dishes from different culinary cultures and a variety of ingredients. I believe that you can do the job only if you are passionate about it and you love to cook, because not to forget that Chefs work most of the times when everyone else are on holiday.

I chose to become a chef because I love cooking, giving emotions to the people through food. Seeing the guest smiling and happy, while devouring all their plate. There is no better feedback than this.

Hearing this we were even more keen to dig in and taste the food! So, we decided to start at the beginning which is often the best place to start. The central island was full of tasty morsels to get the mouth watering – and even though protected behind a screen – the smell of freshly baked bread, roasted vegetable bruschetta, fried croquettes and lentil soup was compounding our fervour.

After diving in to our first course, and with so much food still to choose from we asked Chef for some direction:

Marhaba: What is your favorite dish on the wonderful “Eat Like An Italian” menu and why?

Definitely, that would be Pizza and Brodetto di Pesce alla Vastese!

I can eat Pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner, hot and cold. I love Pizza.

When I was growing up, I used to buy fish with my father. We would go back home and my mother would cook one of the most famous dishes in my city, that is the Brodetto di pesce alla vastese. It is a seafood stew, cooked in a clay pot, using fresh seafood caught by our city’s fishermen the night before. It is a dish full of seafood flavours cooked with tomatoes and crunchy bruschetta on the side. We never missed cleaning the plate with our bread, Simply Mamma Mia how good that dish is!!!

With some fantastic direction from the chef, we headed back over to the food station, plates at the ready. There were three flavours of pizza on offer – a Margarita, a Beef Pepperoni and a tantalising Quattro Formaggi – or four cheese pizza. I decided that I had to taste the four cheese pizza – and I was not disappointed. I can completely understand why Chef Massi would eat this pizza for breakfast, lunch, and then again for dinner. The crust was thin and crispy, and the gooey melted cheese on top was sharp but also creamy. It was the perfect balance of pizza and generous topping.

After the pizza, resisting the urge to return for a third, and then a fourth, slice, we decided to sample the Agnello in Casseruola (lamb stew) and the Pollo alla Diavola (roasted chicken, marinated in spices). Both had that ‘fall-off-the-bone’ quality that only comes with time and care being taken with the best ingredients. These were served with your choice of grilled vegetables or – a personal favourite – baked potatoes with rosemary and garlic.

Of course, there was lasagna on offer, and the filling was wonderfully rich while the béchamel was fantastically cheesy, but on this particular night – I was craving pasta. To my surprise there wasn’t just a single pasta special on the menu – there was a whole dedicated ‘Make Your Own’ station!

At this ‘Make Your Own’ station you can not only make your own pasta… but your own risotto as well. And then – for an extra dose of flavour – your pasta or risotto is placed inside a huge wheel of parmesan cheese (as pictured in the picture on the right)  and tossed until every grain of rice, or every sliver of pasta, is coated in a fantastically cheesy layer of parmesan cheese. Wow… talk about taking Italian food to the next level!

All that food, and we still had one more recommendation from Chef Massi: the Brodetto do Pesce alla Vastese or seafood stew in English. This magnificent dish is cooked in a clay pot and has a wonderful and extensive array of seafood delicacies hidden inside. There were mussels, prawns, scallops, squid – all dripping in a rich tomato sauce. The stew was served with a generous chunk of garlic bread to mop up any leftover drops of sauce. But as this is a food review, we should be critical… bigger bowls are a necessity. Mamma Mia indeed Chef!

Marhaba: Is there a secret to great Italian food?

I create menus reflecting traditional Italian cuisine. Keeping the dishes simple and with the maximum flavour from all ingredients.

If there is a secret, Chef Massi certainly knows it! Dessert was a continuation of the masterpieces that came before it.  There were plenty of bite-sized treats on offer – from chocolate cake to fruit tarts – and even ice cream. They were the perfect end to a wonderful meal.

Marhaba: And finally, what do you think makes the Italian Night at Seasonal Tastes so special?

It is special because I can assure you that the food has been cooked with love from my side. We have created live stations such as pasta, pizza, risotto and that would be a true culinary journey through authentic Italian cuisine. I also have some news for you, the menu will change every week so – if you become a loyal guest to our Italian Nights at Seasonal Tastes – get ready for a new taste of Italy every week! See you there!

Seasonal Tastes is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but Italian Night is every Thursday. You can call 3359 8514 to make a reservation.

Check out their new menu here

Author: Charlotte Wright

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