Sunday, February 15, 2009

Vivaldi Italian Restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand


Vivaldi Italian Restaurant -- Bangkok, Thailand-Photo-02

Vivaldi Italian Restaurant -- Bangkok, Thailand-Photo-02

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The Amari Atrium Hotel's Vivaldi Italian restaurant in Bangkok has been open for about 12 years and in that time it has assumed classical proportions. Not the food itself necessarily, which is more on the trattoria side but the whole concept of dining Italian-style: beautifully prepared food, a relaxing decor, great wines and a special ambience. 
That Vivaldi has managed to successfully combine all of these elements says something about the preparations that must have been made prior to the opening of the restaurant and the continuing attention to details over the years.
The mixture of classic and modern architectural features gives the room the relaxing feeling mentioned above. Stone pillars and modern sculptures coexist harmoniously with the soft lighting and rattan chairs in muted tones. The charcoal stone oven creates a striking showpiece as well as providing delicious pizzas.
On a quiet holiday afternoon the room was peaceful and serene, offering plenty of time to reflect on the restaurant's skillfully prepared food. The large menu contains sections from soup and pasta, appetizers and salads and seafood and meat. Desserts and Italian coffee are also included. The house red wine is dry and light and very drinkable with a wide variety of foods as we were to prove.
Before any of the ordered items were brought, a small portion of polenta with a mushroom preparation was brought as a complimentary pre­appetizer and gave an indication as to what to expect from the rest of the meal. Polenta, a simple cornmeal bread, was the cornerstone of a meteoric rise of Italian trattoria-style restaurants in the USA several years ago and its inclusion on any menu signifies a nod to the trendy way of cooking Italian food that became so popular in that country.

It was certainly the case here as the carpaccio appetizer indicated. Beautifully presented, the dish eschewed many of the nouveau pretensions that many chefs needlessly add to prove their powers of innovation. Some dishes should be left alone and this one was except for the small heap of sauteed mushrooms in the center of the plate. The raw tenderloin, virgin olive oil and shaved parmesan cheese shone on their own the way they are supposed to and provided a delicious and welcome start to the meal.
The cream of seasonal greens soup that was brought next contained tasty, little bits of seafood and had a pizza dough crust baked over it with little bits of sun-dried tomato in it. It was light and smooth and quite refreshing in its simplicity.
Equally refreshing was the wonderful warm seafood salad (Insalata Vivaldi) which followed and included spinach, pancetta, artichoke hearts and tiger prawns and may well have been the best dish of the day. Everything came together perfectly in this salad and the presentation was simply beautiful. If this is a signature dish of the restaurant, then it is definitely on the right track.
The veal medallion entree was almost a letdown after the brilliant salad that preceded it. Topped with asparagus and more shaved parmesan, the medallions were tender and juicy and themselves sat on a bed of risotto­type rice in a light white parmesan sauce. Again, the presentation was very striking and appetite inducing.
Also sampled was a bit of the grilled steak which was a sirloin covers with sauteed forest mushrooms and capers and herbs and was outstanding as well.

After a feast such as that dessert was unfortunately out of the question but the home-made gelati, marscapone cheese mousse and apple tart, among others were very inviting.

In retrospect, it was probably the finest Italian meal we've encountered in six months of relentlessly haunting the dining rooms of the best hotels and restaurants in Thailand. Should Vivaldi continue on its present course, Bangkok will have a top quality Italian dining room that combines all of the elements needed for a great meal in the tradition of classic and not-so-classic Italian cuisine. Here, the trendy and the traditional mix to give the diner a superb dining experience and, ultimately, that's what it’s all about, isn't it?

See for info on Bangkok restaurants.

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