Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bacco Osteria da Sergio

A friend of mine wanted to review the new Italian restaurant on Sukhumvit. The first response we always have when we hear or see another Italian restaurant opening in Bangkok is; "Another One?" There are more fantastic Italian restaurants per capita in Bangkok than any other Asian city (ok, I have no idea if other Asian cities have more Italian restaurants than Bangkok, but believe me, Bangkok has a lot of of them. I am always amazed that they all survive). On top of this, we heard that this new Italian restaurant was not good.

But Bacco, was a surprise hit for me and my friend. It is Bangkok’s first “osteria,” (I think), equivalent to an English “gastropub” or Japanese “izakaya” (“drinking restaurant”). I stole those words from my friend's article. The place is enourmous; it looks small from the outside but you will be amazed when you enter. There where a good mix of of Thais and ex-pats enjoying wine, conversation and tasty food in a lively Old World tavern atmosphere. The only problem is the accoustics. There was a big birthday group, having a great time, but you needed to raise your voice to be heard during your own conversation.

With the size of the restaurant; there are an amazing number of waiters/ waitresses, cooks, and even valets shuttling cars between Bacco and no less than three parking lots in the soi. Though casual, both the wine list and the menu (over 300 dishes) are so extensive as to be intimidating for some first-time visitors (like us). The staff is amazingly efficient and have a point of view of what they personally like. The wine service is similarly very good. Bacco has a special area where the pizza oven (not wood) is situated, as well as a counter where all the anti-pasti and all the hams & cheeses are located. A sight to behold.

At first we did not know what to order because everything sounded so yummy. The waitress suggested that we have a tasting dish of several appetizers, so the first dish was a mixed plate of appetizers, made with fresh minced tuna mixed with pomelo pulp, parma ham, sausage on mash potato and fois gras with fruit sauce of mango & rasberry, rocket in parmesan basket and stuffed muscle.

The next dish we were debating if we should order the 'piada' or 'cassoni', the waitress said they could do a sample dish of both for us to try (very kind of them). The piada sandwiches (traditional bread from Romagna) were stuffed with Parma ham, stracchino cheese and rocket.
The stuffed and grilled cassoni, with spinach, mozzoreal & parmesan cheeses. Both were excellent! The piada is served room temperature and the cassoni is served hot.

The next dish was a very strange one, with an equally strange name. It was called, fazzoletti ripienna. The only way to describe this dish is imagine a pasta stuffed in another pasta which is then stuffed into another type of paste. This is IT. It begins with a cheese & ham tortellini stuffed in tagliolini (a flat egg noodle pasta), which then is stuffed in a sheet of pasta stuffed with mascaarone cheese and ham. All this covered in a white rich sauce. I thought the texture was a bit strange, I thought it was a bit too much pasta, but the taste was nice. A bit too creamy for my taste but it did not ruin the dish.

The last dish was dessert. A orange cake with orange & chocolate sauce. The cake was full of flavour and it was moist. It actually did not need the sauces, but they were a nice touch.

The wine we had for our dinner was a 2004 Campredon by Alain Chabanon from the Languedoc. A very nice wine that was very food friendly. Campredon is a blend of syrah, mourvedre, grenache and carignan. A easy red wine to drink, nice nose of red fruit, well-balanced and nice acidity.

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