Taking its moniker from one of the nicknames for Bologna—La Dotta means ‘the learned one’, a nod to Europe’s oldest university town—La Dotta Pasta Bar and Store on Thonglor Soi 9 is the latest outlet in the growing stable of restaurants and bars created by the husband and wife team of Chotipong, or Choti, and Debby Leenutaphong.
“I think of La Dotta as the third component in our Italian trilogy,” Choti says. “Unlike our first two restaurants, Vesper and il Fumo, which are classic in terms of culinary style and atmosphere, La Dotta is more youthful and laidback. We wanted to create a restaurant that could become a focal point for the neighbourhood, a venue that serves reasonably priced authentic pasta dishes— authentic being the key word—in a relaxed ambience that encourages the patronage of a loyal local clientele.”
In a city not short on Italian dining options, many of them horribly expensive for what they are, it is refreshing to find a new venue that offers sensible price points for good Italian cuisine. At La Dotta moderately portioned menu items currently range from 190 baht to 540 baht and the restaurant offers great value two- and three-course Smart Lunch options at 290 baht and 370 baht respectively. Debby explains that prices have been kept low by omitting a service charge and via other less obvious factors—for example, in deliberately choosing a site that has minimal parking space, the owners were able to negotiate a reasonable rent and thus pass this saving on to the customer.
Unpretentious then, but that’s not to say La Dotta is without a degree of sophistication in its cuisine and décor. With seating for just 37 patrons—12 on the ground floor near the open kitchen and 25 on the mezzanine level where a small bar is also located— the restaurant has an intimate vibe with a cerulean blue and white colour scheme redolent of the Mediterranean region.
Bologna, the capital of Italy’s Emilia Romagna region, is also known as La Grassa or ‘the fat one’, a well-earned sobriquet given the town’s opulent culinary heritage. It is said to be the origin of pastas such as gramigna, tortellini and tagliatelle and—much loved by Choti and Debby—it is the inspiration for the oodles of authentic Italian noodles, both imported and handmade on-site by Sicilian chef Giampiero Quartararo, that make up La Dotta’s menu.
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The imported organic dried pasta varieties on the menu, which was formulated by Quartararo and compatriot chefs Francesco Deiana of Vesper and Nelson Amorim of il Fumo, the couple’s other restaurants, can be interchanged, so carbonara with bucatini or rigatoni; vongole e moscardini (baby squid) with linguine or paccheri; cime di rapa, a vegan dish of turnip greens, dried chilli and toasted walnuts with orecchiette or rigatoni, and so on.
The freshly made pastas, created daily by Quartararo using imported Italian flour and the rich organic yokes of Khao Yai duck eggs, are specific vehicles for simple but delicious sauces. Particularly good is slow-cooked wagyu beef Bolognese served with fresh hand-cut tagliatelle. It is a rich follow up to a starter of deep-fried truffle, sage and ricotta cheese balls. Also recommended is paccheri prepared al dente and topped with tender chunks of crabmeat, slow-cooked cherry tomatoes and fresh Italian basil. Cheese lovers will particularly enjoy the tang of tortelloni 4 formaggi, handmade tortelloni filled with artisanal Italian cheeses and served in a 24-month aged Parmigiano-Reggiano fondue. To finish, try the delicious bomboloni, a deepfried Italian doughnut filled with chocolate Nutella. You’d be forgiven for wanting more.
La Dotta, 161/6 Thonglor Soi 9, Bangkok 10110; 0-2392-8688, ladotta.co