Pizza, pasta, and tiramisu are not hard to find in Bangkok. Artisanal goods imported straight from Nonna’s kitchen stock pantries far and wide. Rarely, though, is Italian food in the capital actually made from Thai-grown produce and local products. Italics bucks the norm, using ingredients sourced directly from Thai farmers and foodie entrepreneurs to create its own intriguing take on Italian classics.
Open since April, Italics has started quietly, focusing on quality over quantity. Located on Soi Ruamrudee, the restaurant is the first to set up in a space that will be shared with a bar boasting what is rumoured to be the largest whiskey collection in Bangkok. The eclectic menu is the brainchild of James Noble, a Michelin-decorated chef, who proclaims, “It’s a mix of dishes I’d like to eat.”
Interesting combinations abound, including pork belly, sitting atop a seared watermelon steak and served with tangy balsamic jelly (B320), and the “Raw and Pure” appetiser (B380); its flavours, textures, and presentation are simply genius. Thin slices of beef, served on a wooden platter, topped with chilli oil caviar and fresh oysters still redolent with brine — an unusual, but decadent, starter.
Of the mains, the coffee-braised beef short rib (B695) stands out. Tender pulled beef, surrounded by gnocchi cooked in duck fat, rests on a bed of sautéed garlic spinach. Flash-frying gives the gnocchi a crisp exterior, the perfect foil to the soft, sweet beef (coffee and beef are a wonderful couple) and the hearty wilted greens. More traditional fare peppers the menu, as well, each with a white or red wine partner waiting to help carry their flavours. Slow-braised beef penne (B420), covered in a potent Sambuca peppercorn sauce kept in check by grated parmesan cheese and fresh rocket on the side, is complemented by a glass of Monsoon Valley Shiraz, an easily drinkable wine from the Hua Hin hills.
Apart from Thai wines, other thirst-quenchers include house-crafted cocktails and fresh juices. The after-dinner brandy and cognac choices will surely please purists. Like butter is to bread, good coffee is indispensable to Italian dining, and Italics makes one high-quality cup of joe.
Desserts are a work-in-progress. The options promise interesting flavour combinations, although certain elements have not yet come together. The lemon tart doesn’t quite have the pop it needs, and some cheesecakes lack ideal lightness. But, if the mains and appetisers are any indication, they will round into shape soon, and localconscious Italics will wow with its tastes of il Bel Paese.
63/3 Soi Ruamrudee | 0 2253 2410 | italicsrestaurant.com | daily 8am-11pm