This tiny outpost of Emilia-Romagna is the pride and joy of Italiano Bangkok.
I’ve been to Il Bolognese several times, but hardly remember a single visit. Vague flashes of recall: walls of cream and lipstick red, acres of exposed brick, snatches of conversation with friends and colleagues. But the food? Nothing. Oh, wait: maybe a large bowl of Ravioli al Funghi Porchini (B470) and ah, yes, the outstanding Strozzapreti Alle Canoochie (B330), the inevitable Parma & Stracciatella Pizza (B590). Blame the Chianti. Litres of lovely, lovely Chianti.
Born from manager Andrea’s desire to bring authentic, quality Italian produce to Bangkok, the restaurant occupies a cute little place halfway up Sathorn Soi 7. A bit battered around the edges, but in a decorative way, like a lived-in Italian grandma’s house. The space gets mobbed almost the minute it throws open its doors at 5:30 pm, and a number of times, when I’ve turned up solo, at 8 pm or 9 pm, am turned away because I didn’t book ahead. It’s always packed to the rafters, popular with locals and visitors alike.
Why so popular? Il Bolognese exudes the homely, personal warmth that consortia of wannabe restaurant-owners who spend hundreds of thousands of baht fail to recreate. Andrea is a generous host, on-site and on-hand almost every service, his warmth creating the convivial spirit of Emilia-Romagna which he happily shares with Bangkok.
The restaurant is never going to be at the vanguard of the Bangkok dining scene, but neither does it wish to be. It does, though, have the biggest heart, and the care and love they pour into each dish make customers feel like family, too. It quietly goes about its business, churning out bowls of pasta and wood-fired pizzas—offering wheat free pizzas made using Italian flour—and turning happy customers into regulars. It’s about comfort and familiarity, the knowing that what you order is going to be made fresh and by the hands of a chef with a big heart.
My Carpaccio di Riccola (B390) was knockout. Thinly-sliced—hardly, this is plump and unctuous, fatty with flavour—marinated yellowtail is placed on crisp bread from local Conkey’s Bakery and finished with a glug of Olivastra Seggianese Extra Virgin Olive—you’ll find the very best olive oil in the city at Il Bolognese—followed by Salsiccia Unriaca (B520) and deeply-rich meatballs marinated in Merlot on a bed of risotto and Parmigiano, in chicken consommé. Umph! Big on flavour and to which I add yet more olive oil.
You can eat your Formaggi (B430/610) and Ossobucco (B530) in the snug comfort of the red walls and happy customer soundtrack. This is the sort of place where you go on a first date, celebrate your birthday, have a business meeting over a bowl of Cappelletti, and if you’re entertaining friends from abroad, pat yourself on the back for having come across a real find.
139/3 Narathiwat Soi 7
Tel: 02 286 8805
Open: Daily 11:30am-2:30pm,