Bangkok Post reviews
The pride of Piedmont
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: November 18, 2011 at 8:19 am
New trattoria celebrates the best of Italy's Alpine province
Meaning olive tree, L’ulivo occupies a two-storey house behind a cast-iron gate only a few steps from Bangkok’s major financial district.
In October when Life's review of L'ulivo was published, chef Danilo Aiassa decided to close his restaurant, fearing that the flood was about to hit the city centre.
Sadly, the lovely trattoria, which had its grand opening a few weeks ago, had to go through a two-week recess for, well, nothing. Last Thursday it confidently resumed operations.
To mark its second introductory, L'ulivo reopened with a promotion that best celebrates the chef's Piedmontese hometown. Until December 10, the restaurant presents black and white truffles from Alba in Italy's Alpine region, the world's best source for the expensive mushroom.
The talented Chef Danilo Aiassa.
From the special nine-item menu, the black truffle with pan-fried dover sole and cauliflower soup (1,550 baht) kicked off the meal marvellously. Served a la pot pie, the creamy thick soup, in which truffle flakes and lithe fillets of the imported fish were bathed, was tucked beneath a golden pastry shell and proved tasty.
Next to arrive was white truffle homemade ravioli filled with ricotta cheese and spinach (2,500 baht). The huge Italian dumpling, hot from the oven, was displayed with drizzles of white truffle and parmesan cheese.
The sumptuous filling presented cream of ricotta cheese with spinach and raw quail eggs. And together with the pulpy ravioli shell, they made a highly recommended, truffle-rich dish.
Also worth ordering was white truffle with tagliolini, Robiolina cheese and sauteed Jerusalem artichokes (2,300 baht). In a huge portion perfect for sharing, the homemade noodles, with their distinctly delectable chewiness, were tossed in rich and creamy cheese sauce leavened with a profusion of white truffle chips and young artichokes. Thanks to its scrumptious taste and texture, we found the dish truly additive.
But if you're a fan of Italian style rice, then go for white truffle risotto with Hokkaido scallops and toasted hazelnut (2,100 baht). Again, in a generous serving, the creamy risotto enhanced by the aromatic nutty crunch of the hazelnut _ another of Piedmont's renowned offerings _ presented a mild tangy touch that finely complimented the succulent giant scallop.
The white truffle risotto with Hokkaido scallops and toasted hazelnut.
Unless the aromatic woody fungi is your favourite, there are many dishes worth your gustatory attention from the everyday menu which focuses on traditional home-style cuisines from various Italian regions.
You may want to start off with the cauliflower soup with cabbage capunet and truffle oil (450 baht), which tasted as captivating as the truffle-infused soup, but is priced more affordably.
The Piedmont-style capunets stuffed with seasoned minced beef were served in creamy rich cauliflower puree. And not only did the cabbage rolls impart a scrumptious beefy chew to the soup, it also lent a pleasant grilled aroma and made the whole dish superlative.
For an outstanding appetiser I recommend classic Russian salad with Bresaola ham in pesto sauce (420 baht). The crunchy potato salad with green pea and carrot was tucked under thin slices of Lombadia air-cured beef and intermingled nicely with the pesto sauce and top-grade salty salami.
I also fell in love with the homemade seafood lasagna with cherry tomato sauce (450 baht). Aiassa's paper-thin pasta sheets featured tender morsels of prawn and squid under a browned cheesy top and on a splash of creamy tomato emulsion.
From the collection of mains, we were impressed by the traditional meatballs with artichokes and black olives guazzetto (610 baht), which were served in a deep ceramic bowl and offered an impressive mouthfeel thanks to the tasty concoction of minced beef and herbs. The intense and thick tomato soup, infused with artichokes and black olives and sprinkled with chopped parsley, was a palate-pleaser and was superb with bread.
L'ulivo's front of the house is under the care of Carlo Alberto Molina. The young and good-looking Milanese manager is also a wine connoisseur, so he will help pair your food with the most suitable vintage from an extensive collection of Italian vinos. Especially for the truffle promotion, he suggested Roero Arneis DOCG 2010, Dolcetto d'Alba DOC 2010, Nebbiolo d'Alba San Ponzio DOC and Barolo Gianni Gagliardo DOCG 2004 from Piedmontese winery, Gianni Gagliardo, that will perfectly compliment the precious mushroom from the Italian Alps.
The highly recommended white truffle homemade ravioli filled with ricotta cheese and spinach.