A continuing commitment to top quality dining, great service, and originality are the hallmarks of Enoteca Italiana.
by Christopher Scott Dixon.
Cozily located in an inner alley of Sukhumvit Soi 27 in Bangkok, Enoteca is only a short walk away from the bustling city but is a soothing sanctuary, which feels like stepping into a different world.
Enter what is almost a magical garden: see the lights glowing like fireflies from the beautifully renovated house, amble up the stone path, let your eyes take in the leafy setting with the perfectly manicured lawn, and the noise and congestion of the capital are already a memory. Four tall arched windows that stretch from polished floor to ceiling greet you as you cross the threshold.
The door is opened by one of the smartly attired staff and the warm smiles create an instant positive impression.
Soft jazz music is a partner, rather than an intruder as you settle into wicker chairs at candle lit polished mahogany tables. You can observe the tall wines shelves, which have over 400 exclusively Italian labels, including a Barolo collection together with rare vintage wines.
Look at the curved brick counter laden with Italian cheeses, smoked hams and salamis and gaze at the garlands of garlic and onion that hang like edible chandeliers from the ceiling.
There is yet more to excite your eyes — like the eclectic collection of memorabilia and advertising signs that adorn the walls.
This is the main dining room but there is also a larger area at the rear of the restaurant, which is ideal for parties, groups, and special functions.
Unlike a number of other establishments, the ambience is inviting, intimate, and yet convivial and natural. Nothing is forced. It all seems effortless, although of course that in itself is a skill, like a duck swimming; the energy is not always visible, but the results are.
Enoteca literally translates as “wine library.” Since its opening in 2004, Enoteca has progressed from the original concept of simple food and wines to its present mission of providing excellent gourmet dining with innovative twists on Italian cuisine.
It comes as no surprise that Enoteca has received many awards over the years. It has been rated not only one of the top 10 eateries in Bangkok but also has garnered plaudits as runner-up restaurant of the year in Asia and Australasia.
Bologna born Nicola (Nic) Bonazza is the effervescent owner/manager and in tandem with his supremely talented chef, Stefano Merlo, they create a gastronomic must-see and -taste experience.
A former financial adviser, Nic’s culinary path has not been the traditional cooking pasta at his mother’s side in Italy. Sensing economic change in his native land in the early 2000s, Nic decided to leave the stocks and shares behind and move to Bangkok. He is a keen student and has spent much time researching the varied techniques and methods of many chefs and imparting his knowledge and views on food to his staff and his colleague Chef Merlo.
He explains his philosophy: “My idea is not to do the classic Italian style as many already do this and it’s always the same story. I want to try something new, I know it can be a harder path to follow–as people’s expectations are–especially outside Italy, for restaurants with Italian menus to offer classic pizza and pasta dishes. I must add there’s nothing wrong at all with that, but it’s just not our way.”
Nic’s and Chef Merlo’s shared passions are very evident as is their constant striving to seek new inspirations for Enoteca’s always fascinating and unpredictable menu.
The cornerstones are simplicity, creativity and diversity, but never compromising on taste.
True to their words Nic and Stefano delivered another splendidly inventive and unique menu for a sample visit.
A playful and flavorsome mix of gazpacho, a spoonful of truffle ice cream, deep-fried rigatoni and burato followed a tasty starter of pork and chicken skins and rice cracker. Delicious smoked mackerel with fried seaweed and mayo accompaniment was next.
Christmas might be over, but a traditional Italian festive dish, “Cotechino,” was showcased and very interestingly! Take the top off a large onion, and inside there was a cream of potatoes with diced sausages — wonderful to the palate!
As Nic met more regular guests like returning friends at the door, a superb tortellini with mascarpone, tomato paste, pork cheek and vanilla oil was devoured. Pigeon foie gras with cabbage and chick pea sauce was another fantastic moreish combination.
A gorgeous chocolate fondant dessert with 70 percent dark chocolate and a side of praline ice cream completed another breathtaking gastronomic evening.
Enoteca Italiana — enchanting ambience, with a menu that fuses modern, traditional, genuinely innovative and peerless quality dishes, always memorable!