A Shining Light of Authenticity
It didn’t look promising. Another Italian restaurant set in a two-story house in posh Ruamrudee, re-modelled in leather-bound look to resemble a stuffy gentleman’s club. More discouraging still, the house speakers were pumping out a tired rendition of “Volare!” An hour later, with all sounds drowned out by a jam-packed crowd, an endless procession of large platters, as pleasing to the eye as they were to the palate, emerging from an opening kitchen featuring a roaring wood-fired oven, and the attentive “Patron/Chef” Francesco Lenzi expounding on generations of family pride proven with its forkful, the lens on Lenzi Tuscan Kitchen was properly focused.
Starting with a base of hams, sausages, and pork products imported from his family’s artisanal Slow Food butcher shop near Lucca, this young, bearded heir to the best his country has to offer has created a national showcase that caters perfectly to its upscale diners—by always adhering to flavour over flash as its menu walks the line between the deluxe and the rustic.
Here, as befitting Tuscany the emphasis is on the meats. Everything looks mouth-watering, but don’t be tempted to stray from the tagliere de Lenzi (B520/B890/B1600), an amazing pressed blood mortadella (B480), or the Bazzone (B690), a prized, chewy hunk of leg sliced personally by the patron. You could easily follow this with non-showy sausages bedded in polenta or the more substantial roasted loin. But those are just the first stop on this culinary ride. A Tartara of Sardinian Branzino (B580) combined with oranges and capers is just right, the Hokkaido scallops (B1290) so sweet they really don’t need the foie gras and truffles on top (though who’s complaining?) You can get your ravioli standard or souped-up—the foie gras in cream is good (B590), the chewy Todelli beef ones in hand-crushed tomatoes great (B490).
Desserts, which often seem perfunctory and unimaginative, are among the most brilliant offerings here—including pear poached in wine in the wood oven, combined with zabaglione and an intense chocolate gelato (B290). Lenzi’s small wine cellar is stocked with hand-picked gems, lesser-known vineyards for Chiantis, Barolos, and more that are far more subtly matched to the food than the usual larger producers’ red rotgut.
How many outstanding Italian restaurants can one town in the tropics support? Judging from the full house at Lenzi, Bangkok hasn’t reached capacity. Better yet, as places like this prove, the main selling point is no longer sloppy tomato sauce but true authenticity—and stubborn loyalty to the heritage of hamming it up.
Lenzi Tuscan Kitchen
Soi Ruamrudee 2 | 0 2001 0116 | lenzibangkok.com | daily 11.45am-2pm, 6pm-midnight