A new riverfront jewel of the first water.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
Even among Bangkok’s wealth of luxury riverside properties, the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River’s distinct point of view and picturesque aspect have ensconced itself as the place to visit among Bangkok’s glitterati, after only a few months. Touted as a true dining haven rather than just another hotel, I was eager to sample one of their five carefully-curated F&B destinations, each with its own story.
Riva del Fiume Ristorante, their aptly-named Italian riverside restaurant, serves seasonally-inspired dishes hailing from the North to the South of Italy; with its aim to take diners on a journey of flavour from one course to the next. Channelling Lombardy, Italy’s Lake Como with its dramatic, panoramic views and cascading terraces, the restaurant is sure to establish itself as one of the select few riverfront properties to visit time and time again.
If there’s a restaurant that captures the spirit of being on holiday, it’s Riva del Fiume, with its sun-drenched walls of light wood, rose-gold undertones, and inviting seating in soft creams and flushed pink. “All the materials used are those that embrace natural light,” I was informed, and indeed the light spilling in from the glut of windows overlooking the river was the literal and figurative luminary of the space.
An open kitchen immediately catches the eye to the left, while a wood-fired oven of grand proportions dominates the space next to it; a deliberate choice by the designers to capture the charmed feel of walking into a house in Italy – albeit one steeped in luxury.
FOOD AND DRINK
With a focus on authentic Italian cuisine, Riva del Fiume takes pride in bringing together the best elements from around the world, replete with a chef from Verona, tuna from Japan, capers from an island in Sicily, and seeds from Italy to grow produce in Thailand.
Even before the entrées, fresh-baked bread already set the tone of our meal. Although bread baskets are a staple of Italian eateries, our team unanimously agreed that theirs stood out, a testament to the quality of the ingredients including, I was told, yeast brought all the way from France.
If you’re looking for lighter options, their menu has a variety of cichetti or little snacks, of which I’d recommend the Sardine (THB 540), fried golden and paired with salsa verde for a moreish treat to whet the appetite. The Burratina (THB 580), which featured fresh and tart tomato varietals, had some of the silkiest burrata I’d tried in the city, while the Parmigiana di melanzane (THB 490), artfully arranged with Matera tomato fondue on the side, was surprisingly light on the palate despite the punch of flavour from the 36-month aged parmigiana in the recipe.
As an unashamed lover of seafood, my favourite part of the meal came in the form of a tasting plate of three types of crudo (raw fish or seafood). Difficult to get right, the Assaggi dello chef (THB 980) is an ode to the innovation and skill of the hands in the kitchen, as well as the top-tier ingredients used. The three served to us were the Gamberi rossi mazzara del vallo, comprised of red prawns, stracciatella, cruschi pepper, and wild fennel, the Tonno al basilico with akami tuna prepared in the Genovese style and my personal pick, the Ricciola, crafted with amberjack, cucumber, mint and, intriguingly, pickled salmon caviar as an extra-indulgent topping.
Despite how addictive the entrées can be, don’t miss out on the mains, of which the options span the length of Italy, both in origin and in abundance. I was told that the chefs often waxed eloquent on their pizza dough, and with good reason – fermented for over 48 hours, the wood- fired oven in which it is cooked is stocked with eucalyptus and lychee logs to add its characteristic flavour. For vegetarians,I recommend the Pizza bufala (THB 680) packed with both acidity and sweetness from the tomatoes, balanced out by the buffalo mozzarella.
The pizza is not the only thing handmade – each pasta piece in the Fusilli al ferreto (THB 590) we tried was made by hand, with fresh artichokes with its distinct nutty aftertaste, a rare treat in Bangkok. Finally, don’t miss out on the Branzino(THB 1,250), a perfect proportion of pan fried wild sea bass with more artichokes on the side.
We ended our meal on an especially sweet note with a cornucopia of desserts, of which the Tiramisu (THB 350 for one, THB 750 to share) stood out as exemplary; nailing the right combination of creamy and not-too- sweet, offset by its amaretto sorbet. The Granita di fragole (THB 360) is another that I would highly recommend – I couldn’t get enough of its Avola almond foam which literally melted in my mouth.
The Spaghettone aglio & olio (THB 450) is not as heavy as most pasta dishes but has a kick of sweet chilli, that we were told was especially aromatic when fried. For dessert, our unanimous favourite was the Panna cotta al basilico (THB 320), a dessert that was intriguingly savoury, with a burrata sorbet that was unlike anything we’d tried before.
RIVA DEL FIUME RISTORANTE
Ground floor, Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River
300/1 Charoen Krung Road, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120
Open for breakfast from 6.30am to 10.30am, lunch from 12pm to 2.30pm, and dinner from 6pm to 10.30pm
Tel: 02 252 4707