LA CASA NOSTRA
By : KEN BARRETT
09 November 2016
About: The tangle of sois at the top end of Sathorn Road, around the Malaysia Hotel, has long been a curious mix of respectable old houses and restaurants and bars of varying quality, but tending towards the grungy. La Casa Nostra is different, being a classy venue set in a villa, but unless you are a regular attender at the Goethe Institut, which is on the opposite side of the lane, it would be easy to miss this new venture. The relative obscurity of the location does not appear to be a deterrent to the clientele, however, for on the night of our visit the restaurant was so packed that we had to be seated at the bar; which, in fairness, was perfectly comfortable and gave us a good view of the staff at work. We also peered into the bunker-like wine cellar, which is located to one side of the exterior courtyard. The restaurant is co-owned by Global Vineyards, Thailand’s leading wine distributor, and takes a splendid range of their wines, mostly French and Italian, adding only 500 baht to each bottle as a mark-up. This means that no matter if you are drinking a standard glugging wine, or a vintage, the profit for the house is the same. So, you may as well go for the pricier labels. Also, thanks to a device known as a Coravin, any wine can be poured without the cork being removed from the bottle, allowing all wines, even the premium labels, to be enjoyed by the glass. Sitting at the bar we were able to observe this fascinating process, which lets off a sibilant hiss, and we quaffed a selection of very fine wines.
Décor: In front of the house is a courtyard with outdoor seating, and indoors there is a residential atmosphere. A glass-fronted extension provides views out to the garden. Sturdy wooden furniture and exposed woodwork evokes a rural chic feel; the bar is a long one, and the lighting makes effective use of warm candlelight. Handmade Zalto glassware, forged iron flatware and earth-toned colours add to the feel of a posh home.
Menu: The Italian authenticity is certainly here. One of the owners is chef Alessandro Frau, whose Italian restaurant Acqua in Phuket is an enormous success. Head chef at La Casa Nostra is Nino Seognamillo, whose track record includes working at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant in London, and who has a preference for rustic cuisine tending towards his own home of Sicily. Hence we started with Mediterranean octopus (490 baht) that had been submerged in water overnight to ensure it was tender, and then roasted and spiced with smoked Spanish paprika. Wafer thin shavings of Joselito Iberico ham (580 baht) were served with ricotta cheese, heirloom tomatoes and olives from Taggia, in northwestern Italy. Sicilian red prawns were served with a light portion of risotto (480 baht), Chef Nino suggested that the prawn heads be squished into the rice to extract the full flavour. Australian lamb chops were grilled and served with sweet potatoes (890 baht), with a splash of yoghurt and salsa verde. We ended with a glass of sambuca, whose powerful anise flavour rounded the meal so perfectly we had another glass.
Evaluation: The very fair policy on wine pricing, together with the enormous selection of quality wines available, has clearly helped to drive the popularity of La Casa Nostra within the very short time the restaurant has been open. This is a venue for everyone, Thais and visitors alike, and you can entertain your business associates here or bring friends, wives and lovers. Quality and authenticity of the food ingredients is another driver of popularity, as they are sourced from Italy and other parts of Europe, and other high quality providers. The staff are young, friendly, and know their stuff.