FACT enjoyed an exceptional al fresco experience at the Aqua terrace.

In the vibrant heart of Doha, perched atop the Mandarin Oriental, sits Aqua, a rooftop terrace where the city’s heartbeat merges with the serene expanse of Barahat Msheireb’s view. It was here, under a canopy of stars and the soft glow of ambient lights, that we embarked on an evening of amazing beverages and culinary discovery.

Aqua unfurled as a rooftop sanctuary amidst the energetic pulse of the surrounding city where guests can experience a lively and relaxing ambience with distinct lounge seating and al fresco-style dining. The bar, under soft lantern light, offered a welcoming glow, while the tables were caressed by candlelight, flickering gently against the city’s burgeoning twilight.

Olive trees rustled softly, framing the terrace, as guests settled into the comfortable embrace of chairs arranged for intimate conversation. The setting sun draped the city in a tapestry of dusky hues, with the terrace perched like a jewel, a haven where the zest of urban life met the tranquillity of the open sky. Aqua offers guests a stunning rooftop experience which celebrates the spectacular views of Barahat Msheireb and the Doha skyline.

While the DJ set the terrace alive with beats, chatter and clinking glasses filled the air. Joe, the manager, greeted us with a friendly smile that spoke of genuine hospitality. His eyes sparkled with the fervour of a man whose passion for Italian hospitality and cuisine was not just a profession but a love affair.

Serviced by the same kitchen as Mosaic, guests can enjoy an à la carte menu featuring light and healthy cuisines with easy sharing dishes. Signature mocktails, iced teas, juices and lemonades, created around a refreshing and summery theme and made from fresh and natural ingredients, are blended together to give balanced and refreshing flavours. There is also a wide selection of signature mixed drinks as well as the finest selections of grapes, hops and premium beverages.

Italian Classics

We began with the starters, a carefully curated selection that promised to transport us to the rolling hills of Tuscany. The Focaccia Olio di Oliva & Aceto Balsamico, a bread which is a staple of Italian tables, was an ode to simplicity, its rosemary-kissed crust evoking the rustic charm of an Italian farmhouse. Arancini Siciliani were parcels of delight, a harmonious blend of textures and tastes that conjured up images of bustling Sicilian markets. Each breadcrumb-covered rice ball was subtly laced with saffron and had a heart of beef ragu and melted cheese.

Alongside these dishes was The Battuta di Tonno & Ponzuan – an oceanic vision on the plate, with finely chopped tuna glistening like precious gems. Delicately bathed in a Sicilian red orange ponzu, each slice of fish was a reflection of the sea’s freshness, with citrus notes that danced on the tongue.

Sumptuous Mains

The dishes that followed offered a crescendo of flavours, each a masterpiece in its own right. The Lamb Arrosticini & Olio di Oliva was a revelation, effortlessly falling off the bone, each rib of lamb melting into a symphony of herb-infused tenderness. The Calzone Classico, or classic folded pizza, offered a delicate balance of textures, its golden crust encasing a mélange of creamy cheeses and rich tomato sauce.

Lastly, the Gamberoni alla Griglia were a masterclass in marine simplicity, each shrimp was presented on the plate partially shelled, inviting an interactive delight where only a gentle peel was needed before indulging in their succulent flesh. Each shrimp bore a faint hint of chilli that subtly awakened the senses. This delicate heat did not overwhelm but rather lifted the natural, sweet flavours of the seafood to new heights.

As for the Beef Tagliata di Manzo, its meat was tender and rich, pan-seared to perfect succulence. Each slice offered just the right resistance before yielding to the bite. Nestled upon a bed of fresh rocket leaves, the robust flavour was elevated by a vibrant onion marmalade, which brought a sweet complexity, beautifully offset by the tang of a balsamic reduction. This exquisite ensemble was cradled between slices of crusty bread, providing a satisfying crunch that contrasted delightfully with the soft, rich interior.

A Chic and Stylish Space

As we dined, it was impossible not to notice the multitude of guests gathered, all basking in the perfect weather that graced the evening. Aqua proved to be the quintessential venue for anyone seeking to indulge in a leisurely drink or a full meal. A stylish space with elegant landscaping, calming water features and modern, semi-private seating, the air was alive with a gentle breeze, carrying the rhythmic beats of the DJ’s selections that infused the atmosphere with an infectious energy.

Dessert was a sweet denouement, with the Tiramisu al Caramello Salato layering coffee-soaked savoiardi biscuits and mascarpone in a decadent embrace. It was elevated by the salted caramel base that wove through the dessert, adding an innovative and indulgent complexity. The trio of house-made ice creams, Gelato alla Vaniglia, offered an exquisite accompaniment. The pistachio boasted rich, nutty tones, the fruit variant burst with seasonal freshness and the vanilla was a creamy classic. Each scoop was a tribute to the restaurant’s dedication to using fresh, premium ingredients, turning a simple dessert into an artisanal experience. As the evening drew in and the music softened to a gentle hum, we reflected on our experience. Aqua, a secret oasis nestled in the heart of the city’s town square, is a sophisticated restaurant and bar. A place where all are welcome to unwind with friends, creating memories that linger long after the last bite. ✤