“Antonio’s was born on January 15, 2004,” says Antonio “Tony” Armenio of his long-standing restaurant, speaking with the soft-spoken pride and filial affection only a parent can truly express. “It’s my baby.” This is by no means a slight against his human children, whom he loves dearly. It’s just that Antonio’s, one of the city’s warmest Italian institutions and something of a mentor for up-and-coming venues, is for Tony less a place of work than a part of the family.
Each night, guests shuffle into a renovated home of parquet floors, delicate lighting, and intimate service on Sukhumvit 31. Just about every table will meet the impresario himself—Tony likes to get to know his guests so that, when they return, whether it’s one week or five years later, together they can catch up lost time. And while a casual-professional mood set by conversation and handshakes has contributed to the stream of repeat visitors, food is the element that has really kept Antonio’s on the tips of tongues for the past 12 years.
“My menu is my bible. I never change it,” says Tony, admitting, “except for the specials.” The Australian-born Italian believes everyone in Bangkok has a handful of restaurants in their heads at all times, going to the well when they get a craving for a specific cuisine or dish—the ramen here, the tom yam there. And so he offers an ever-changing selection of fresh seafood and meat specialties, first shown to each table in the raw, but keeps the core of his heavily Pugliese menu the same.
The dish that most remember Antonio’s for is its award-winning ravioli stuffed with porcinis and dressed copiously in black truffle cream sauce (B690). While this sinful staple merits all the applause it has received, it marks anything but an endpoint. Australian avocado baked with prawn and topped with mozzarella and aged parmesan (price depends on season) represents Antonio’s creative side; the sweet prawn strikes such a perfect balance with the sharp, salty cheese and silken avocado that it’s a surprise the restaurant is known for the ravioli instead of this dish. Or the white asparagus wrapped lightly in Parma ham and held in place by a sea of gorgonzola cream sauce (B490), which can—and should—be mopped up with Antonio’s fresh-baked bread. Or, perhaps, the 500-day grain fed Tajima tenderloin (B1750), served with red wine gravy, that the steak knife cuts like butter.
While family might drive Antonio’s Italian experience, a table full of fine-tuned dishes defines it.
26 Sukhumvit Soi 31 | 0 2662 1001 | antoniosbkk.com | daily 6pm-11pm