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Sunday, April 15, 2012

La Bottega Di Luca @ Terrace 49, Bangkok (English)

La Bottega Di Luca - Italian Restaurant Sukhumvit 49 (Thonglor 13), Bangkok 

Overall Score  9/10
Taste   4.5/5
Ambiance  5/5
Service  4/5
Value   3.5/5

Constantly looking for fine dishes and new places to review and to serve our passion for the great culinary arts in Thailand, my friend and I have been on the hunt of Thailand’s CNNGO top dishes list.  We tackle each dish on the list one at a time to be the judge ourselves.  La Bottega De Luca @ Terrace 49 is an authentic Italian restaurant located in the upper class area, the Wattana district.  Into the Soi Sukhumvit 49, the scooter taxi brought me about a kilometer to a small complex of upscale restaurants and boutique fashion shops, called the Terrace 49.  The La Bottega was on the second level of the little fancy mall, where soon I would get a taste of the 3rd best spaghetti in Thailand of the year 2010 (ranked by CNNGO).

At Terrace 49 approaching the fancy Italian restaurant from distant, I could see multiple tall shelves of wines covering interior sidewalls up to the ceiling.  Seeing the luxurious decoration of the dining area, I could feel the extravagance Italian meal awaits me.  The place was rather small and exclusive.  There was a separate room for a large party which was also decorated with bottles of expensive wine.   The red earthy tone of the design theme within this place really stirred up my appetite.  From my knowledge, this color is the best one to be in your home’s dining room.   The entrance was on the terrace part of the restaurant.  On a nice night like this, it would be quite pleasant to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air but I know my friend; he likes the air conditioning.  Not to my surprise, he was already sitting inside waiting for me.  Majority of the seating area is on the terrace.  It is quite obvious that their target group is the expats, because they all seem love our tropical climate so much.  Our table was right next to the opened kitchen.  We sneak peaked a little to see what’s happening in there.  We have a few foreign chefs; Italians I assumed.  This Italian restaurant, La Bottega in Soi Sukhumvit 49 appeared absolutely promising to see that we have descendants inherit the original Italian cookery for us. 

On the table, we were welcomed with the basket of breads.  There were about four or five different types; I like the buttery ones with dried fruit in the center (plum?) and the other one with the tomato spread.  Let me comment on the long biscuit sticks in a vase; it reminded me of a bundle of bamboos for home decoration but an edible miniature version.   I really thought it was great.  Then we had the complimentary plate, it was just a piece of bread with some kind of Italian salsa spread; so basic that it probably shouldn’t have been served.  My buddy did the ordering and I was just there to eat and enjoy the top class Italian meal at La Bottega.

First plate served was the Grilled Scamorza.  Basically it was a chunk of smoked cheese with bacon and mushroom; beautifully presented.  I believed the cheese was a good grade Mozzarella.  The taste was slightly salty with the smoke flavor.  The richness of the cheese contrasted the crispy bacon well.  A glass of Cabernet Savignon was a plus with this appetizer.  We both liked it; empty plate left us a big smile.  

Next one was the highlight, Spaghetti Vongole, ranked third in its kind by CNNGO of Thailand.  I would like to thank this dish, being the reason to bring us to the LABOTTEGA ‘Made in Italy’.  My first twisted forkful bite of the al dante spaghetti blew my mind away falling in love with its flavor.  The taste of the clam perfectly matched the spicy herb sauce.  Intensified by Thai chilies, an aroma of Thai and Italian mixture; reminded me of the Pad Kee Mao but a much more superb and elegant dish.  We must agree with the CNNGO on their pick. 

While waiting for the main dishes, I still enjoyed the last bit of the Vongole sauce by soaking the bread all over it.  Not too long, our main dishes arrived one after another. First one was the Ossobuco originale de Milan.   It was the veal shank braised with vegetables, wine and broth.  The meat was so tender; got shredded of the bone with ease.  The thick sauce exploded the rich and meaty flavor, plus a pleasing hint of flowery herb (I couldn’t tell what it was).  I could use a bowl of steamed rice with this one.  The veggies aside arranged neatly around the mash potatoes could simply substitute my rice desire.  Toward the end of enjoying this dish I started to taste the beef stocking too much, but let’s leave it at that. 

Next one was the fish delight, Trout Marinated.  Came wrapped a plastic bag, inside was a Northern Trout from the King’s project.  As being unwrapped by the server, we could scent the herb heavily marinated with the Trout.  This bagging technique was interesting; I have seen my Hawaiian friend doing it to his Thanks Giving Turkey before.  I was confident about the juiciness and the strong herbal aroma.  Flavor was nothing special.  Without presenting the bagging technique, it would be just a basic one; maybe because we had the intense flavored dishes prior to this one.  One comment on the fish; amazing job on the deboning.  Side veggies were exactly the same as the Ossobuco, boring.  Many restaurants do the same thing, serving the same side for all the main dishes.  Suggestion is to create a specific match for each dish.  

There were a few attractive choices of dessert at La Bottega.  We had the Panna Cotta.  It was truly refreshing, especially with the berries on top.  Lucky my friend wasn’t into sweets, so I pretty much hawked most of it.  In my opinion, it was just enough sweetness; the crunchy bits blended with the chilled cream balanced the sweet berries well.

To be honest, I haven’t an Italian meal this good in a while.  The La Bottega did a great job in tweaking the authentic Italian dish to suit the palates of local Thais and foreign tongues trained by the Thai chilies and spices.  The customer service leveled to any luxurious hotels in town.  An easygoing atmosphere of cozy and stylish interior design was a great pleasure.  A high class meal definitely came with high price.  Our bill came to just above 3,000 Baht in which I thought it was reasonable.  We were happy with this place.  If you think of tasty Italian meal, I recommend the La Bottega @ Terrace 49, Sukhumvit 49 for an enjoyable night with your honey or your family.  

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