It might seem a little odd for some of you that I’m writing about Italian restaurants in Bangkok as opposed to recommending places for delicious Thai food. But what I, and many other foodies, have discovered over the past few years is that Bangkok is home to some of the best Italian restaurants in Southeast Asia. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the quality of Italian food there is, on average, much better than in any other place in this region. Whenever I visit the city of angels, I make it a point to have at least one or two good Italian meals. Sometimes, more than half my meals end up being at Italian restaurants. Anyway, here’s a short list of places to try on your next visit.
I haven’t eaten at this lovely, airy, and chic restaurant in the Four Seasons hotel for a little while. But over the past half-decade or so, I’ve had some really great meals there. The pizzas, baked in a wood-fire oven, are always good. So too are the pastas. Very popular are the penne with lamb ragout, young leek and red wine reduction and the squid ink angel hair with scallops, shrimps sprout and garlic cream. This is a very popular place and is almost always packed at lunch with businessmen who like the set lunch that includes a generous appetiser buffet.
Four Seasons Bangkok, 155 Rajdamri Road
Zanotti is the restaurant that most hip Thais mention when you ask them what their favourite Italian restaurant is. For over a half-decade, chef-owner Gianmaria Zanotti has turned his homey establishment off Sathorn Road into a little slice of Northern Italy. His ingredients are always fresh. The place is always busy (you MUST reserve a table if you plan on going for dinner). From what I’ve seen, many regulars never actually crack open the menu. They trust the chef will know what they want and serve them food that keeps them coming back for more.
Saladaeng Colonnade Condominium, 21/2 Soi Saladaeng, Silom Road
Tel: 0-2636-0002, 0-2636-0266
This pricey but slick restaurant is on Sukhumvit Soi 23. It’s the kind of place you’d take someone to show off a little, while also having a good meal. Chef Fabio Colautti has prepared a really long menu of dishes that come from all over Italy. If you get a tad confused reading it, feel free to ask Giulio Saverino, who runs the front of house here, for advice. On my last trip, Mr Saverino put together a great antipasto plate which I and my companions devoured. Everything on it was delicious. The wine list is just as extensive as the menu and has some lovely choices available. Sadly, I recommend against asking for help here. On my last visit, when I asked about a specific wine, the sommelier then proceeded to suggest several alternatives. All were priced at least twice as much as the wine I had asked about – a sure sign that he was thinking more about his commission than my interests (and limitations). The restaurant also has a nice bar, perfect for pre or post dinner drinks.
16 Sukhumvit Soi 23
This cheap and cheerful little restaurant is a favourite, secret haunt for hi-sos that prioritize substance over style. The decor is simple – some might say non-descript – but the food is excellent. It’s not fancy fare though. It’s good, rustic Italian food cooked simply and with love. The chef-owner, Zariya Charoenphol, tends to be a tad heavy-handed with her pepper, but that suits me fine. I usually end up adding extra pepper on a lot of the food I eat, so for me, her seasoning is spot-on. On my last visit, I had a side order of sauteed spinach and a big plate of pasta with mushrooms and bacon in a rich, cheesy (and peppery) cream sauce. It was yummy. Order some of the homemade ice creams for dessert. These are also fabulous.
351/3 Soi Thonglor, Sukhumvit Soi 55
This charming, intimate restaurant is perfect for a first date. It tells your potential partner that while you appreciate beauty, you aren’t into flashy things. It also tells him or her that you value quality. Antonio’s, run by Aussie-Italian Tony Armenio, serves excellent food of the highest quality. His starter of ravioli stuffed with porcini mushrooms and sauced in a truffle cream is excellent. From what I hear, it is also becoming something of a cult dish. On my last visit, I had a breaded veal chop. It was great, both crisp on the outside and amazingly pink and tender inside. Antonio’s, while not as popular as Zanotti nor as flashy as Biscotti or Giusto, is perfect for people serious about their food.
59/1 Soi Sawadee, Sukhumvit soi 31
Tel: 0-2258-4247, 0-2258-4108