If you’ve a penne-chant for fine dining…
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
While Bangkok boasts a plethora of Italian restaurants, I personally believe there can never be enough purveyors of fresh, handmade pasta in this buzzing metropolis, so I’m always keen to try any new offerings. Tucked into the first floor of the urbane Gaysorn Tower, the newly- opened Emilia Ristorante Italiano is committed to authentic Italian cuisine, made from fresh, premium ingredients, and with a wide range of options for meat- lovers and vegetarians alike.
From the onset, we were transported into a charming bistro in Italy, with their faux-aged wine barrels, carmine-red awnings, and patterned tiled floor. A bar and a number of tables greet you in the ‘patio,’ giving the appearance of an al fresco space, while a series of white archways leads into the main restaurant itself. Bold outlines and black drapes add a contemporary edge to the classic scene, while I was surprised by how deceptively large the space was once we turned the corner into the rest of the restaurant.
Inside, elegance reigned supreme. Modern chandeliers pick out the velvet sheen of the sofas in sophisticated greys, while arched windows draped in ecru look out into a rare spot of greenery in the middle of the city. What I really appreciated were the variety of seating options available, allowing for parties of any number and occasion; from nooks for intimate dates, to larger booths for a group of friends or family.
FOOD AND DRINK
Emilia prides itself on its Italian chef with over 25 years of experience, so I was excited to sample their signature, traditionally Italian dishes, many of which aren’t widely available in your average Italian restaurant in Bangkok. We started with their Insalata di rucola (THB 250), a classic rocket salad with shavings of one of my all-time favourite cheeses, Grana Padano. The latter’s slightly nutty aftertaste complemented the sweetness of the rocket and balsamic vinegar, whetting our appetites for more. Next, we sampled their Burrata con pomodorini (THB 260), which was a revelation for one of our number, who’d never tried the quintessentially creamy cheese before. I’m not usually a fan of tomatoes, but the colourful heirloom cherry tomatoes were just what one would want – crisp and fresh, with a hint of piquancy to keep the entire dish light and refreshing.
The Frittura di sardine (THB 220), a generous helping of deep-fried sardines served with their signature tartar sauce, are a must-try appetiser. With a satisfying crunch on the outside but still juicy within, make sure to squeeze some lemon over the lot for the perfect moreish starter. Our final appetiser was the Brodetto di pesce (THB 480), a very traditional Italian stew made with fresh white fish, squid, and mussels, and braised over 12 hours in tomato sauce to really lock in its flavours. As extraordinarily fond as I am of seafood, this was a real treat, tangy and filling in equal measure, especially with the side of grilled bread.
Moving on to the mains, the Strozzapreti alla Bolognese (THB 360) was one of my personal favourites of the meal despite being a well-known classic, made with a rich beef Bolognese sauce that was packed with flavour and elevated by what they dubbed “one of the world’s best Parmesan cheeses.” For those who don’t eat beef, you can request a pork Bolognese option instead, and while I haven’t eaten strozzapreti pasta often, it made for a very attractive portion on top of the colourful, eye- catching crockery all the mains were served in.
The Tagliolini al ragu di calamari (THB 400) integrated the pasta in a very generous portion of sauce, just the way I like it. Despite years spent sampling any Italian restaurant that caught my eye, I hadn’t come across this dish before, and the squid ragout stew was a standout. Made from fresh local squid, the use of squid ink was obvious in the colour, and added a unique taste and texture that’s worth a try for fans of seafood.
Finally, for dessert, we tried their French toast (THB 240), a butter-soaked brioche that you could choose to pair with valrhona chocolate ice cream (my advice would always be to go for the ice cream option). Made with a secret recipe, the toast was perfectly toasted on the outside, but still steaming and moist when we cut through, and was the ideal end to what I can only say was a truly incredible meal.
The Tagliatelle al pesto (THB 360), made with pesto sauce, more of their perfectly-made burrata, and crushed walnuts, was a unanimous hit with all of us. The aromatic basil pesto sauce, which I learned was one of their signatures, was especially delicious; creamy rather than too oily as is often the case, and clearly created from scratch in-house.
EMILIA RISTORANTE ITALIANO
First floor, Gaysorn Tower
127 Ratchadamri Rd, Lumphini,
Pathum Wan District, Bangkok 10330
Open daily from 11am to 3pm
Tel: 088 628 9240