La Bottega Di Luca
reviewed by : Ken Barrett
30 October 2017
Soi 49, running parallel to Thonglor, is a funny, crooked little soi, but once you get past the dog-leg bend there is the comforting glow of The Terrace 49 complex on your left, and up the steps on the mezzanine level, overlooking the street, is the even more comforting glow of La Bottega di Luca.
Restaurants come and go with alarming frequency in Bangkok, and the competition amongst Italian restaurants is especially intense, but when Luca Appino opened La Bottega in 2008, he hit upon a winning formula that sees the restaurant rated amongst the top Italian outlets in town, and with a 10th birthday soon to be celebrated.
Partly, this is down to Luca himself: all Italian chefs are charming, but Luca brims with charm and is a fixture of the restaurant. He comes from Alba province, where his family makes wine, and has been in Bangkok since 2004. Partly, the success is also down to head chef Andrea Ortu, who is from Sardinia, who also tours the tables regularly to ask how guests are enjoying his food, and whose menu is alive with colour and verve.
Success is also due to the venue itself, for the layout of La Bottega is conducive to conviviality. A snug indoor section provides intimate corners for the quieter diners, with glass walls looking out to the partially roofed outdoor terrace, warmly lit and providing a mix of table and sofa seating. A private wine room is for parties and will seat up to 14 guests.
The raw materials play an important role, because the vast majority is sourced from upscale suppliers in Italy and other parts of Europe, with all the fresh ingredients being farm and market fresh, thereby allowing chef Andrea to create authentic Italian food.
The wine list has been assembled with all the expertise expected of someone whose family background is in wine, with an intriguing selection of Italian wines that includes a separate listing of rare and vintage red wines.
We started with a dish of roasted octopus (640 baht), a slight crunch on the outside, swimming in a sauce of green peas and cream, with the sweet twang of cherry tomatoes and a finely textured stracciatella cheese, from Foggia province and made from buffalo milk.
Our pasta dish was wide strips of paccheri (the name means “slap” in Neapolitan), from premium supplier Di Martino (590 baht), folded into a sauce made from cherry tomatoes and creamy burrata cheese, with a sprinkling of mullet roe and a hint of lemon zest.
A fillet of turbot (1,290 baht) formed the main course, sourced from Brittany, pan-seared and with the skin nicely crisped, with a sauce of tomato and saffron, dotted with small, fruity Taggiasca olives.
For dessert, a rich sweet sabayon (320 baht), made from egg yolk, sugar and sweet wine, served semifreddo, or chilled, and accompanied by a sauce made from pistachio nuts from Bronte, at the foot of Mount Elba.
La Bottega was buzzing when we arrived, and still buzzing when we left, two hours later.