A large poster, prominent at the entrance of The Sukhothai Bangkok on Sathorn Road, proudly announces Italian restaurant La Scala to be “all new—still legendary.” Following an extensive six-month interior re-fit—the first since the venue opened in 2002—and the introduction of a new menu by chef de cuisine David Tamburini, there is no doubt that La Scala has received a fillip since it reopened in November 2017. The claim to ongoing legend status is also sound as a result of Tamburini’s ability to produce what is described as “pure, traditional Italian recipes with unparalleled creative flair, a veritable culinary tour de force that captures the essence of contemporary Italian dining.”
A pathfinder in terms of introducing some of the world’s best chefs to Bangkok’s gourmands—The Sukhothai’s Art of Dining series is a lengthy roll call of chefs sparkling in the Michelin firmament—under Tamburini La Scala is earning a reputation for delivering both classic and progressive Italian cuisine. Classic and progressive is also a good way to describe the restaurant’s new interior, which references the hotel’s old capital-inspired architecture with cushioned banquettes, bronze fittings and slate tile and hardwood finishes but looks to the future with moodily-lit bar and wine cabinet displays and illuminated partition walls made of
As you are welcomed to the restaurant you pass the open kitchen. It is a hive of activity and watching Tamburini and his team going about their craft only adds to the gustatory anticipation. His new menu features a selection of antipasti, pasta and main course dishes that provide a riot of flavours presented in a very imaginative way.
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Signatures include appetisers such as pan-seared Hokkaido scallops with kale and Brussels sprout salad, black kale inzimino dressing and herring caviar. Also good is gallina rifatta al tartufo e verdure invernali, an onion stuffed with chicken terrine and served with braised autumn vegetables, morel mushrooms and black truffle zabajone.
For a pasta dish try spaghetti cooked perfectly al dente with smoked eggplant juice, deep-fried eggplant, datterino tomatoes and hard ricotta cheese. Alternatively, mixed pasta in a rich bisque-like crustacean broth with succulent Sicilian red prawns and green zucchini is a wonderful nod to the skills Tamburini acquired working with fresh seafood in Sicily. As is pescatrice e patate arrosto, a main course of pan-fried monkfish tail glazed with roasted potato consommé and served with warm potato salad, capers, olives and rosemary. Cooked firm to the bite, it has a flavour profile redolent of the Southern Mediterranean.
Another deeply satisfying main course, one much closer to the culinary traditions of Tamburini’s Florentine upbringing, is faraona alle olive, or roasted guinea fowl with Mantovana yellow pumpkin, grapes and black olives. Outrageously tender, the savoury meat is contrasted by the tart-sweet surprise of a pickled plum hidden in a garnish of grape leaves.
Tamburini’s native Tuscany and its reputation for truffles is also the inspiration for an intriguing dessert of tartufo. The dish, a whisky cream-filled pastry designed to resemble a white truffle nestling in an earth-like bed of chocolate mousse with green lapsang souchong dressing, is the epitome of the chef’s knack for innovative flavour combinations and elevated presentation. Going truffling is a great way to end the meal.
The new look and new flavours of La Scala are hard to top for business lunches, family celebrations or an intimate meal for two. Speaking of which, Tamburini is putting on a special six-course Valentine’s Day menu. The dishes include baby cuttlefish in squid ink sauce, crispy pork in apple juice, buffalo mozzarella tortellini in a tomato and basil broth, gratinated wild turbot with pine nut milk, borage and rosemary and lightly smoked duck breast with a peppercorn and coffee dressing. It’ll be love at first bite, no doubt.
The Sukhothai Bangkok, 13/3 Sathorn Rd
Open daily noon-3pm, 6-11pm