Thursday, March 6, 2008

La Dolce Vita ala Rosanno

Foodies of Bangkok are insatiable. There will always be room for new restaurants and new ventures. When it comes to satisfying the palate, the city becomes an open stage for chefs from all over the globe.

It doesn’t mean that opening new restaurants have to be bordering on uncharted realms of exotic cuisines to tickle our taste buds. It can be the old tastes that give us the sense of home and traditions that transport us to rural settings of labored dishes par excellence.

Rosanno just does that; a well-received addition to the hordes of ristorante around town (167 Sukhumvit Road 21, Tel: 02 260 1861). The old and new crowd of foodies welcomes the rich traditions of Italian cuisines with its rustic ambience and familiar dishes. A quaint single-detached house with a terrace, conventional furniture and well-trained staff who greets guests with a smile and a “buongiorno” with a crisp accent is an invigorating scene in this hi-tech world.

Chatty and ever so hospitable, Rosanno tells tales of Bangkok 25 years ago when pizzas were as alien as cell phones were to Bangkokians then. His devotion to his kitchen endeared him to the hearts of the locals, and soon his pizzeria evolved into a lovely sought-after ristorante. Last year he retired but soon after he missed the bubbly life of a restaurateur and stepped right back into the limelight.

The kitchen is now under the watchful eye of Chef Achille from Sardinia, while Rosanno chats with guests and looks after the needs of his hungry patrons. Ensuring the authenticity of flavors, a refrigerated display counter is filled with meats and delicacies from Italy. Guests can request nice plate of warm and cold house appetizers from the fresh selection.

The volcanic stone grill highlights the kitchen, for a good old-fashioned smoky flavor. Fans of grilled food can feast on Australian Angus tenderloin dashed with peppercorn and mushroom sauce (680B); or an old favorite of juicy country style whole chicken grilled to perfection (420B).

Pastas are house dishes especially good on days we don’t want to complicate the mind with choices – fruitti di mare, al funghi, carbonara or homemade spinach lasagna filled with veal ragout (300B/dish). For me, I always have a contented longing for a steaming serving of risotto; like one laced with saffron and garnished with Italian sausages (360B). On my meatless days a simple vegetarian serving of risotto al funghi, filled with the earthy taste of mushrooms, could definitely gratify my craving (380B).

A sweet deal of a short list of lunch special of 8 antipasto, 13 main courses and 2 desserts (320B/ 2-course; 390/3-course) is available Mondays to Saturday; including an aroma-rich coffee at the end of the meal. Some dishes are special for lunch only, like my personal favorite of fried mozzarella garnished with greens and ravioli spinaci pomodoro. I only have to refrain from stuffing myself with the generous serving of thin rosemary sprinkled pizza bread – they are just delicioso!

A typical Sunday dish of a rich comforting stew steadily simmering for hours can leave anyone salivating in anticipation. Stinco di Vitello is a hearty chunk of braised veal oozing with the essence of rural flavors (520B). True to the undying tradition of seasonal flavors, a chalk board of specialties is constantly changing.

The wine selection can please anyone’s fancy. A glass of fine house wine, to wash down an easy meal, is poured just in the right amount (180B). While the large wine list can suit any occasion diners are in the mood for. Three enclosed rooms easily could seat a group of up to 12 persons, for private parties.

To enjoy a real Italian meal, you have to leave space for dolce. Italian gelato consists of six homemade flavors (120B/scoop): nutella, lemon, hazelnut, vanilla, coconut and chocolate. Millefoglie, alternating layers of thin pastry and mascarpone cream with strawberry sauce and ice cream, is a dreamy end to the meal (180B). Tiramisu, literally meaning pick-me-up, can definitely perk you up after a meal; with its fresh traditional taste of cake infused with coffee laced with rum, layered with oozing cheese filling, topped with rich powdered chocolate (180B). Are you now in a suspended drool?

So forget the minimalist theme, chill out music and ├╝ber sleek setting, Rosanno’s is your good old Italian place. It is still Bocelli in the background, art and love in each serving of a dish and a short teleport to a charming little village in Italy where the atmosphere is like home. Love it!

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