Bangkok Post reviews
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: October 28, 2011 at 8:36 am
Chef Danilo Aiassa is back, doing what he does best, this time off Sathon
Chef Danilo Aiassa.
Adding cheer to the homey setting are beautiful mural paintings of Mediterranean towns that occupy the walls of dining rooms on both floors of the 80-seater.
A couple years back when Piedmontese chef Danilo Aiassa quit the Four Seasons Bangkok, his plan was to open his own Italian restaurant. During his absence from the city's gastronomic scene, he was missed by regulars who for four glorious years had enjoyed his food, as well as his geniality.
Recently the young chef found a place to settle in and, again, showcase his distinct culinary prowess. It's a lovely two-storey house a few steps off Sathon Road. It took him almost a year to get its every detail into perfect place before he was able to call the 60-year-old premise spread over 300m2 home and invite his fans in.
Opened just last month, L'ulivo restaurant _ Aiassa's pride and joy _ stands behind a cast-iron gate with a small garden terrace shaded by mature raintree and tropical plants. Stepping inside, guests will be charmed by the bright and casual interior adorned with rustic artifacts, including wooden cabinet, a fire mantle and a writing desk hauled straight from his home in the Italian Alps. Adding cheer to the homey setting are beautiful mural paintings of Mediterranean towns that occupy the walls of dining rooms on both floors, while a spacious open-kitchen provides a dynamic touch to the 80-seater.
Homemade seafood lasagna with cherry tomato sauce.
Cuisine-wise, L'ulivo serves up traditional dishes from various regions of Italy. According to Aiassa, the food is prepared to authentic recipes (some are of his Nana) but presented in a more contemporary style.
Interestingly, the first dish to arrive at our table sounded half a world away from Italy. Yet, the classic Russian salad with Bresaola ham in pesto sauce (420 baht) is said to be a first-class Italian dish created exclusively for the tsar of Russia.
The salad, tucked underneath thin slices of Lombadia air-cured beef, looked and tasted like a lighter and crunchier version of a typical potato salad. It was made with diced potatoes, green peas and carrot and went nicely with the salty salami. To add some zest and herbal fragrance to the clement classsic, Aiassa applied dredges of pesto sauce which intermingled superbly with other elements and made the overall dish uniquely tasty.
Equally sophisticated in flavour was red and yellow bell pepper filled with tuna and anchovies-parsley dip (370 baht). This second appetiser represented sunny Mediterranean cuisine through a colourful display of braised capsicum, fresh salad leaves and cherry tomatoes. The pungent taste of the sweet peppers, radiccio and rocket leaves gave a nice balance and crisp touch to the savoury smooth tuna dip, making it a dish worth sampling.
Aiassa's first two creations thrilled both our eyes and tastebuds. So I kind of expected to see the third one as much intricate.
However, what came simply in a bowl looked very much like an average cream soup. More intriguingly, though, his cauliflower soup with cabbage capunet and truffle oil (450 baht) was one of the most impressive treats on the table.
Classic Russian salad with Bresaola ham in Pesto sauce.
Soaked in the creamy rich cauliflower puree were Piedmont-style cabbage rolls stuffed with seasoned minced beef. Not only did the cabbage capunet provide a scrumptious beefy chew to the soup, it also lent a pleasant grilling aroma and made the soup heavenly addictive.
For pasta, we're suggested homemade seafood lasagna with cherry tomato sauce (450 baht). Neither a fan of lasagna nor pasta with seafood, I was surprised the way my tastebuds responded to Aiassa's paper-thin pasta sheets, in which tender morsels of prawn and squid were exhibited under a browned cheesy top and on a splash of creamy tomato emulsion.
Of the eight main-course choices on the menu, we passed the likes of pan-seared cod fish with greatened potatoes, roasted lamb rack with sauteed cornetti beans and grilled Boston lobster with pappapmodoro. Instead, we went for a more classic option: traditional meatballs with artichokes and black olives guazzetto (610 baht).
Served in a deep ceramic bowl, four chubby meatballs offered an impressive mouthfeel thanks to the tasty concoction of minced beef and herbs. The intense and thick tomato soup, leavened with artichoke and black olives and drizzled with chopped parsley, was a palate pleaser as well and proved great with bread.
Matching L'ulivo's excellence on savoury dishes were its desserts. Among a tempting selection of sweets and gelato, the restaurant highlights amaretti zabaglione semifreddo with caramelised almond (260 baht). The light and luscious dessert featured a foamy layered cake with mascarpone filling, brittle almond crust and a touch of a Italian liqueur.
For wine lovers, the restaurant manager who's also a wine connoisseur, will help pairing your food with the most suitable beverage from an extensive collection of Italian vinos. Some choices are also available by the glass.
At L'ulivo, sophisticated cuisine, homey trattoria ambiance and the service, fitting of a fine-dining restaurant, blended smoothly. Every dish came out quick from the kitchen manned by a crew of six, and was expedited by the chef-owner himself.
Traditional meatballs with artichokes and black olives guazzetto.
Red and yellow bell pepper filled with tuna and anchovies-parsley dip.