Jarret Wrisley, the owner of Thai diner Soul Food Mahanakorn, has now diversified into Italian with the opening of Appia, named after Via Appia, the most important road in the Roman Empire which was built over 2000 years ago. You can still drive parts of its cobbled streets in the Italian capital, and it was close to here that Jarret’s partner, chef Paulo Vitaletti, was raised.
The restaurant has a seam of tradition running from a sloping barn-like roof to ironwork chandeliers and a logo weathered, as though unearthed from an archeological dig. There’s a bar at the end of the narrow room with displays of cold cuts, salads and blackboard menus. And loud chatter creates a welcoming, inebriated sound as you arrive to sample the ‘Roman family recipes’ of Paulo’s Mama, who takes charge of the kitchen.
We got off to a bad start, though. Chicken broth (B220) arrived with totally unseasoned quadrucci pasta, cooked super al dente, even by Roman standards, and in so large a quantity it buried any flavour in a soup that was strangely insipid, despite the stated addition of bottarga and parmesan.
Much better was the tasty capresi in puglia (B400), with luscious aubergine, burrata cheese and juicy, marinated cooked tomatoes. Unfortunately, we’d ordered it, intrigued by the listed mackerel pancetta, which was off, although no one mentioned it before serving.
A bigger hit was the cavatelli pasta (B350) with rich lamb shoulder ragu, a slight sweetness from caramelised carrot fondue and a pleasing undercurrent of fennel seed. With pasta pellets and not much sauce, the dish may be a bit dry for some but I loved it.
There’s a thoughtful wine list to wash it down (B900-7000), including labels such as Telmo Rodriguez, plus four each of red and white by the glass (B240-350).
Appia is a just couple of months old, so the hiccups are likely down to staff training and the problems of transferring a-bit-of-this, a-bit-of-that home recipes to the demands of restaurant consistency. It’s a likeable place, with an interesting menu and lots of big flavours – once it’s settled we expect a very solid performer.
20/4 Sukhumvit Soi 31 | 02-261-2056 appia-bangkok.com | Tues-Sun 6.30am-10.30pm