At age 33, Chef Dario Busnelli has big plans, but with a résumé that includes Four Seasons properties in Prague, Paris, and Florence under Executive Chef Vito Mollica; and having once cooked a chocolate cake for Pope Benedict XVI; he has a lot to live up to. The Thai-Italian chef now returns to Bangkok with a mind to stir up the long established, La Villa il Ristorante on Thonglor 9.
In the afternoons, the dining area is lovely and streaming with sunlight; the restaurant matures in the evenings to what romantic candle-lit dates are made of. This place, with its mid century décor, mixing Italian pop culture and war-time info-graphics diverged little in 5-years of establishment. What has changed recently is the menu. Overhauled by Chef Bushnelli, it's still traditionally Italian, but revisited with a streak of something entirely young, fresh, and centered on seafood.
To whet the appetite, dinner can begin with simple Parma Ham wrapped Grissinis; Homemade Pickles of Ricotta Stuffed Peppers, Mushrooms, and Olives, all the things you'd think to find in the larder of a Sicilian Villa; and Seared Canadian Scallops, the most aromatic of the group due to the cleaver caramelized shallot reduction that leaves a barely visible sheen. It's reminiscent of the natural glaze one gets when cooking scallops in their own shell.
There is a relatively large menu of mains, but a few items clearly stand out. The Seafood Soup served in a Homemade Bread Bowl (THB 520++) is perfect for fish and shellfish lovers, offering variety and (if it matters) plate-envy from nearby diners, this is one beautifully presented dish!
The more subtle Paccheri from Gragnano in Carbonara Sauce with Calms, Calamaretti, and Guanciale (THB 450++) is a rich but surprisingly palatable carbonara that dispels rumors of Italian cheese dishes being too heavy for Thai tastes. Also of note is the Niçois Salad (THB 680++), reinterpreted with large tuna steaks, baby asparagus, baked potatoes, black rosatelli olives, and shallot sauce. For a crispy side there is Deep Fried Seafood in Potato Batter with poached garlic dipping sauce, simple and delicious.
Deep Fried Seafood in Potato Batter
In essence, the new menu at La Villa brings the slick presentation and complexities of 5-star fine dining outside of the hotel arena. It embodies the mind of Chef Bushnelli, fundamentally Italian with a hint of Thai insight; true European training brought back home with a new perspective; and in a city of trending gourmet cravings, that might be exactly what Bangkok needs.
La Villa offers Pizza Lunch sets at THB 290 – 390++; Dinner menus are à la carte, Appetizers THB 280 – 420++, and Mains 360 – 790++ (averaging at THB 450++)
Opens 11:00 - 14:00 hrs and 18:00 - 23:00 hrs
La Villa Wine Lounge and Restaurant
131 Thonglor, Soi 9, Sukhumvit 53
+662 712 9991