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Posted On: 11 January 2016 04:04 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:16 pm

A very Special Antica Pesa Ladies Night, hosted by Francesco Panella - By Elizabeth Walker

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Checking out Francesco Panella’s Instagram account, the effervescent owner of Antica Pesa is like entering a “Who’s Who” world of celeb diners. He has hosted seemingly “everyone who is anyone” in his highly acclaimed Italian restaurants in Rome, Williamsburg, NY and Doha, from Novak Djokovic to Madonna.


The name Antica Pesa, which means “The Old Scale” in Italian, gets it’s name from the 17th Century Roman custom of collecting taxes on grain, imposed by the Vatican. Bread and wine was offered to the peasants that visited this tollhouse with a restaurant being established in this spot later in the 19th Century, thus coining the name “Antica Pesa”.


I was invited, with other members of the Media to check out the Antica Pesa Ladies Night last night, which is held every Sunday from 8pm-2am. Welcome Drinks are offered on arrival and guests can luxuriate in the elegant first floor lounge and outdoor terrace, which affords great views of The Pearl, while a live DJ plays the latest tunes. The restaurant, which opened in April 2015, has already become a firm favourite with Doha’s residents and is housed in the fabulous grounds of the Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel, under the watchful eye of the famous Marsa Malaz horse.



Last night, however, was a special Ladies Night, as we were hosted by Francesco, who, graciously agreed to answer a few questions of mine and discuss Antica Pesa’s new Winter Menu, while we sampled a few Winter Menu light bites:

Francesco, could you tell us about the new Winter Menu at Antica Pesa?

The new Winter Menu respects seasonal products that you guys have over here, which I’m very impressed with, as they taste very good! In the beginning, we had the idea that it was going to be very difficult to work over here, but that’s not true at all. Now, Doha can provide the best ingredients, so we are very happy to work with these from local farms. We try to work from the farm to the table, because it’s the philosophy of the group to work in this way, with organic products, which is the way forward for restaurants in the future.

You have mentioned that the philosophy of Antica Pesa is to use locally grown, organic produce, but have you found it difficult to source the selection of organic produce that you need for the restaurant here in Qatar?

It was very hard to do in the beginning, but 2 years ago we started to talk to and establish a good relationship with farmers here…to try and speak the same language of, let’s try to do this and that…We found that people are curious about other cultures, as we are, so it was amazing to start working together and now it’s great what we can do. We have a menu of over 50 items, it’s a very large menu and we are very open to try and understand what people over here want, with respect to our cuisine.

Do any of the new Winter Menu dishes have an “Arabic Twist” to them?

Believe me, day by day we are going to choose the best ingredients to make the menu sexy and different. The key element of the restaurant is to talk to the guest and ask them what they like and customize the service to them. I’m always open to talk to people to find out what they love in order to make them happy! Customers are the database of my group and I really listen to what they say.

Do you have any favourite dishes yourself from the Winter Menu?

The Duck Salad is unbelievably good and the new Wagyu Beef Carpaccio dish (served with confit and pasteurized egg yolk with black wild rice puff and balsamic mayo, I hasten to add!). I have to congratulate the guys, because they work unbelievably hard to create an interesting menu….and people say that we are doing a great job!

Finally, what future plans do you have for Antica Pesa? Any plans for expansion?

Expansion is always a good thing, in my opinion. Something big is going to happen soon, but I would like to keep it secret for now. There will a couple of pieces of good news soon!

…We at can’t wait to hear about that!


Photos courtesy of Richard Walker

Antica Pesa Opening Hours:

All-Day-Dining: Every Day 12:00 - 22:00

Bar: Everyday 18:00 - 2:00

Restaurant Style: Casual Dining

Dress Code: Smart Casual

Cuisine: Italian

Smoking: Yes

E-mail Contact: [email protected]

Telephone: +974 4035 5300


Enjoy your favourite cocktails with a 50% reduced menu price. Prices start from QAR 40. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 5:00pm to 8:00pm


Ladies enjoy welcome drinks at the stylish first-floor lounge of Antica Pesa, along the sounds of a DJ. Prices are a la carte. Sundays 8.00pm to 2.00am.


Enjoy your favourite cocktails made with house spirits or a glass of vino, along with a tasty selection of Italian finger food.
Free-flow selection starting at QAR 450 per person. Thursdays 6.00pm to 9.30pm.


Signature Roman recipes on this simple and classic a la carte Pranzo all' Italiana brunch. Prices are a la carte. Fridays starting at 12.00am.


A taste of 4 Italian grapes selection plus 1 after-dinner spirit. QAR 200 per person, excluding food. Fridays starting at 12.00am.


Relax with your favourite cocktail and the stunning views as the sun sets over Qanat Quartier at The Pearl-Qatar. Prices are a la carte. Saturdays 6.00pm to 9.30pm.