The restaurant has a contemporary feel, furniture is comfortable and I am cocooned in subtle shades of aquamarine. The interior complements this new culinary direction.
A new chef is in town – Mirko has arrived from Rome. Not satisfied with recently implementing a rustic-style menu featuring both the de-rigueur classics from his home country alongside his own signature dishes, he is also at the helm of this new initiative that I will be experiencing tonight. Saturday evening Italian ‘famiglia’ style buffet.
I have been invited to savour the very first of these weekly events. As all of us avid cinema goers know from the classic Italian gangster movies, family in Italy is sacred. It is deeply embedded in the national culture, and this passion also extends to food. An integral part of this culture revolves around combining the two; so, dining with one’s entire extended family involves a massive spread of sharing dishes, white and red grape libations to accompany, and the atmosphere must be fun.
This is what Mirko and the team have recreated on Saturday evenings at the price of B1,999 net per person including limitless quality Italian beverages.
I begin with the antipasti selection; an extensive range of premium Italian charcuterie such as Salsiccia piccante and Prosciutto di Parma. I also spot a hand-carved San Daniele Ham alongside some very tasty appetisers of Vitello Tonnato and Beef Carpaccio with rocket, parmesan and a sprinkling of balsamic. Other classics have not been forgotten such as a crunchy bruschetta with glistening baby tomatoes and a creamy rich burrata cheese.
My plate is now quite full, however I’m caught by a number of seldom seen cheeses. I add generous slices of full bodied Testun cheese enriched with a full red grape and smooth and creamy Caprino goat cheese. The cheese will go well with the freshly baked breads, which has been studded with both green and black olives.
On returning to the buffet tables, which dominate one of the rooms, I choose some fresh oysters and prawns from the seafood selection and am tempted by a bowl of comforting pumpkin soup with which to finish my bread.
Upon clearing my plate, I wander outside to a covered terrace and a live station serving up multiple varieties of pasta, prepared in a sauce of your choosing, from carbonara to bolognese. I plum for tagliatelle frutti di mare (seafood), containing squid, clams and prawns. Lasagne and other pastas are also available from the buffet. I am also advised by Chef Mirko that a new pizza oven will be installed in the next week.
Continuing with the buffet, I select a wonderfully delicate sea bass in a creamy sauce with peppers and a few roast potatoes.
Reaching the end of my evening, I believe I have just enough capacity to enjoy a light dessert and go for a decadent tiramisu.
Chatting with Chef Mirko after the meal, he shares with me his new a la carte menu, currently available on all other evenings at La Trattoria.
I can see from the content this will also be well worth a visit. I see traditional dishes alongside his signature dishes. I note marinated octopus in a capsicum sauce, risottos made with Carnaroli rice – the preferred longer grain rice, numerous vegetarian options and cleverly thought out, gluten free dishes indicated. I also spot a favourite of mine, veal ossobuco.
The desserts list also does not disappoint; coconut crème brulee with caramelised pineapple jumps off the page as does a Ricotta cheese strudel with sour cherries.
As I depart La Trattoria across the immaculately manicured lawns of the Dusit Thani Laguna, I reflect on my experience this evening; this is rustic and authentic Italian regional cooking, bringing out the best from fresh produce with big bold flavours in an inviting environment. I am excited to return to experience Mirko’s a la carte creations.
And so, until the next time, to Mirko and his team, I say “ciao” and “grazie-mille” or goodbye and thank you very much!
Chris is a former Michelin Guide Inspector who, following an international career in hospitality spanning 30 years in both the Middle East and Asia, has now settled in Thailand and will contribute a monthly restaurant column.