A new Spring menu for this much-revered temple of Italian fine dining
There is one dish on the menu at La Scala, the much-revered temple of Italian fine dining at The Sukhothai Bangkok, which sums up the creative application by Chef David Tamburini. It is listed under the Tasting Menu as “pomodoro e mozzarella”. Yes, tomato and mozzarella… urgh, yawn! Seemingly dull and repetitive of trattorias and ristorantes across the world, right. But all is not what it seems.
First of all, options. There is a lot to choose from here in a flexible menu presented in typical Italian course structure; Antipasti, Zuppe, Primi Piatti, Secondi, Secondi di Carne, Dolchi and Formaggi. You could come for a starter of tuna belly tartare (B1,350) or dive straight into the Secondi di Carne course with an eye-watering stuffed whole pigeon (B2,800). Or you could come for a bowl of pasta (B880). Better still, the Tasting Menu (B2,900) is good value and far more of an exciting journey through the kitchen’s extensive repertoire.
For years, the broad, low-lit space of La Scala slipped from the public’s consciousness as new restaurants opened across the city at a rapid rate. They fought to be relevant and in November last year renovated the restaurant and kitchen, adding seductive interiors and dressing themselves up in Italian glitz. The walls were stripped, and a large wood-fired oven installed. The gastronomic centre shifted from catch-all Italian to a more honed-in, nostalgic leaning.
Titled “Naturally”, the new Spring tasting menu is Chef Tamburini’s second menu overhaul and is based on what the seasons suggest to him. What you get is a listing of unmistakable Italian ingredients, and a tribute to his heritage; paying homage to all of the recognised staples of nonna’s kitchen table: mozzarella, octopus, zucchini, ravioli. It kicks off with the aforementioned “pomodoro e mozzarella” – a plate visible on the restaurant’s advertising board as you approach from North Sathorn Road. It’s a fresh, milky Campania buffalo mozzarella ball encased within a thin-skinned, glowing red tomato. It looks beautiful, tastes even better, and is created with craft and precision.
Then, there’s a dish with bite: a crispy potato skin filled with potato foam, griddled Mediterranean octopus and green olive sauce. Very heel-of-the-boot Italy. A plate with balance and texture. Pan-fried sweetbreads may not be to everyone’s taste, but I consumed with gusto, the plump morsels of veal heart served with a toasted pine nut milk. Ravioli follows, encasing braised black pork carob with beautiful results.
As I glide effortlessly through the menu, wines arrive. A glass of Rosso di Montalcino pairing particularity well with steamed John Dory fillet in saffron butter sauce. Then the kitchen ups-the-anti with a hearty serving of grilled European black Angus (dry-aged) ribeye. I begin to feel my belt buckle pushing against my belly, but not before I sign-off with “ranuncoli” dessert and mascarpone with carob mousse and Sambuca-infused beetroots and granola. Another standout, perhaps as good as the opener and undoubtedly set to become one of La Scala’s signatures plates.
Every new edit to the restaurant’s menu rewards the diner. Throw in a few glasses of good red, and it’s an authentic Italiano experience from a menu and a chef who feel right at home in the cosy surroundings of La Scala’s long and distinguished history.
By David J. Constable
The Sukhothai Bangkok, 13/3 Sathorn Rd
Open: Daily 12:00-3pm, 6pm-11:30pm
Tel: 02 344 8888, ext 8654