Italian fine dining attracts a loyal foodie following
One of the great pleasures of dining at La Bottega di Luca is chatting with Luca Appino, the namesake of the restaurant and a veteran of the Thai dining scene. He’s had a hand in Enoteca, Vesper Bar, Il Fumo and Pizza Massilia, all the while observing food trends with a wary eye.
The local food movement, fusion, fancy plating… Appino is not opposed to them, he just has an abiding belief in sourcing the best ingredients, from Italy in the case of La Bottega, and on this point he will not waver—importing over 80 percent of the ingredients used in the restaurant. He’s also especially eager to find items one cannot find elsewhere in Bangkok.
His eatery serves over 15 kinds of pasta and imports flour from several different regions in Italy. Appino insists customers get a different taste experience at La Bottega and they appear to be a loyal bunch, as the restaurant has been operating since 2008.
The Beetroot salad (B520) was an unusual jumble of flavours, with diced beets and a beetroot sorbet adding tang to goat cheese balls rolled in pistachios from Bronte, which when combined with olive oil contributed saltiness to the bitter mixed greens.
The homemade Angel hair pasta (B590)—with clams, calamari and its ink, green peas and sauce, all topped with fresh sea urchin—was a mixed bag. The seafood was clearly fresh and the peas helped round out the mouthfeel, but the dish was a tad too salty, even for frutti di mare.
However, the Kamut spaghetti (B590) with cherry tomato sauce, Burrata cheese, mullet roe bottarga and lemon zest is probably an example of why patrons love La Bottega. Chef Andrea Ortu uses an ancient type of wheat, known as kamut, to bring out a nutty flavour to the al dente pasta, which interplays with the acidity of the tomatoes, the hint of sweetness from the Burrata (from Puglia), and the salty kick from the bottarga (from Sardinia). It’s a statement of intent for the restaurant’s ethos, and it succeeds on every level.
Next up was Slow-roasted suckling pig from Sardinia (B990), with potato croquettes, braised leeks and red wine sauce. This was a rustic dish, with the leeks and pork skin providing a satisfying crunch, the pig salty, fatty and heavily herbed with rosemary. All this hearty food required a robust wine to wash it down, and the 8 Destefanis Barbera D’Alba Rosina (B1,200) hit just the right tannic note.
The sweet was crêpes brulée lemon curd, red fruit sauce, and crumbled mint (B380). While the crepe proved a spongy container for the curd, the strawberry coulis was a sweet complement to the citrus.
If you get a chance, pull up a chair and bend Luca’s ear over an espresso. It’s become a true Bangkok experience.
By Robin Banks
La Bottega di Luca
2F, Terrace 49 Building, Sukhumvit Soi 49
Tel: 02 204 1731 | Open: Tue-Sun, 11am-3pm, 5-11pm, Mon, 5-11pm