Simran Kapoor took a trip to the recently re-opened Riva, at Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara, to sample Mediterranean cuisine without leaving Qatar.

Asunny Saturday afternoon just off the coast of downtown Doha, Riva re-opens its doors – welcoming lovers of traditional Mediterranean cuisine. Here you can tuck into succulent seafood, mouth-watering grilled meats, hearty salads, homemade pasta, as well as indulge in pizza; all made with love by Head Chef Julio Sanz.

Upon arriving at the restaurant, we were warmly greeted by our attendant, Zahra, who walked us to our table by the window where just the right amount of sun was shining through. The indoor dining area is characterised by refreshing modern décor, with a relaxed ambience and nonchalant island vibe – displaying a live kitchen for preparing wood-fire pizza, for a beautiful aromatic experience.

Open for both lunch and dinner – I suggest, to squeeze every drop of deliciousness from your visit, come by early for a leisurely stroll along a series of pathways fringed with lush botanical gardens as you eventually find your way to Riva. Sip on a nonalcoholic aperitif in the lavish outdoor seating – the perfect place to appreciate the golden beach and stunning views of the ocean front. For a split second, I almost had an ‘out of Doha’ experience – you might even think you’re in the Maldives. How’s that for a change of atmosphere this holiday season?

We started off with a welcome peach iced tea shot; the best way to beat the heat and cool off! On special request, and with such close attention to detail, Zahra prepared a warm ginger honey tea to soothe my sore throat while we looked through the extensively revamped menu which introduces famous flavours from different parts of the Mediterranean area.

The lunch starts the way all good meals should: with a sizeable slice of house made sourdough bread, served with harissa and garlic oil to begin the culinary journey.

Thereafter, we were treated to a selection of main menu items chosen specifically by Chef Julio. First up, and my all-time favourite, juicy Heirloom tomatoes with creamy rich burrata. It is truly one of the best food combinations in existence; every time I eat this dish, I’m overwhelmed by how good it is. Refreshing for a hot summer day – lightly coated with olive oil, balsamic jelly and pesto sauce to moisten – but just enough, so that nothing overpowers the flavours of the fruit.

We opted for the ever so tender Black Angus beef medallion, dressed with seared Foie Gras and served Rossini style. The plate was artfully offset with baby carrots, crispy asparagus, cèpe mushrooms, melt-in-the-mouth truffle mashed potatoes and jus, to pour over to your liking.

Itching to travel to Spain? Riva brings to you a Spanish essence with the flavourful classic seafood paella that followed – vibrant, bold and just delicious! It featured gently grilled prawns, calamari, mussels, scallops and bell peppers. To add that extra oomph, a little drizzle of herbed chilli oil and we were more than satisfied. The main-course game was a tantalising competition of taste and provenance, with each element on the plate battling it out to impress the palate and score sourcing points.

We finished on a sweet high with an old faithful – the tiramisu. However, with chef’s twist – it is not overly sweet yet the rich mascarpone really allows the flavour of the espresso to bloom on the tongue. Made with a velvety banana cake, chocolate, coffee cookies and dusted beautifully with cocoa powder and rock salt, nothing could compare to this airy delight – every spoonful hit the mark!

I must say, the staff were extremely friendly and attentive to our needs – with suggestions and recommendations on hand. This is not a meal to be rushed but one to really be relished. Riva offers you quality and quantity on all the various dishes – I believe it would delight anyone from the Mediterranean region and impress anyone who was trying the cuisine for the very first time. So, get on that boat and make your way to Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara. ✤