By : KEN BARRETT
11 July 2017
About: Homemade pasta and imported brand-name pasta, prepared by young Italian chef Giampiero Quartararo, who hails from Sicily. The premises are a converted shophouse, with the kitchen on the ground floor directly behind the counter; anyone taking one of these seats can observe close-up the cooking process, peering directly into the pots and pans for the stove is only inches away. Giampiero, who is very affable, is happy to chat while he is working. This informality extends to the staff, who are outstandingly cheerful and friendly, and there is a family atmosphere to the restaurant. La Dotta (“the learned one”, and also the nickname of Bologna, for its ancient university tradition) owners Chotipong Leenutapong and Debby Tang also own the Vesper and Il Fumo restaurants elsewhere in town.
Décor: Whoever came up with the idea of an azure colour scheme for this corner-site shophouse is brilliant, because together with the bright-white splashes it sets the sunny sea-and-sky tone perfectly for a hearty pasta meal. There are a few seats at the two counters on the ground floor, while the main restaurant is up the blue iron staircase. There are only six conventional tables here, plus two high tables, and the restaurant seats just 34 diners in total. This small size, together with the sound bouncing around the bare blue-and-white décor, means that it only takes a couple of full tables for a real buzz to be created.
Menu: We started with deep-fried balls of ricotta cheese (190 baht) flavoured with truffle and sage, and crunchy bruschetta with a topping of fresh crabmeat and cherry tomatoes (290 baht). From the specials menu we had the long, narrow, flat tagliolini pasta that traditionally comes from northeastern Italy, made here with fresh duck egg and served with artisanal butter, 24-month aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and shavings of black truffle that provided an earthy counterpoint to the rich sauce; at 850 baht, it was the most expensive dish on the menu. A serving of rounded strands of linguine pasta had sweet little clams and glutinous baby squid (390 baht) with a white wine dressing. Amatriciana is a slow-cooked (in this case, four hours) tomato sauce, with cubes of cured pork cheek and hollow bucantini pasta (or rigatoni, if you prefer), served al dente and with a sprinkling of the salty Pecorino Romano cheese on top (320 baht). We finished with two scoops of vanilla Sicilian ice cream (190 baht).
Evaluation: Every neighbourhood should have a La Dotta. With reasonable prices, an Italian expert in the kitchen, and a totally informal atmosphere, the restaurant is suitable for just about everyone; on this evening, there was a table of local residents with two small children, a party of three local girls on a hen night, and a table of expats. The pasta is on sale from a very attractive display at the restaurant entrance.