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Saturday 20 August 2016

A delightful Italian restaurant in a most unlikely location

It is the most unlikely of restaurant discoveries; a little slice of rural Italy 28 floors above bustling Bangkok.

The Thai capital has many excellent ethnic restaurants; French, Indian, and Mexican among them, but Attico still comes as a very pleasant surprise, as much for its authenticity as its element of surprise. 

Walk through the lobby of the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, right on Sukhumvit Road near the Asoke intersection in the heart of the tourist precinct, take the elevator and you are immediately transported to Tuscany. 

Walk past the battalion of wine barrels, check out classic black and white photos of Siena and take in the high ceilings with their wooden beams. Tall glass windows and a balcony, where you can also dine, look out over the Bangkok skyline.

Talented chef Roberto Parentela (from Turin but with experience in Tuscany) has taken over from inaugural pan-handler Dario Busnelli - and the food, made largely from ingredients air freighted from the old country, is charmingly rustic. 

Sure, the views are spectacular, but the food is the undisputed star.

Start, perhaps, with some breads, a dip and pickled vegetables, followed by some thinly sliced Culatello ham, accompanied by some new-season Lorenzini melons and crisped Parmesan wafers. Simple but delicious. 

Next up, the best-selling burrata salad with Tuscan tomatoes, white rocket and olive dust. Delightfully fresh and followed by pappardelle pasta with a wonderfully rich wild boar ragu.

All the flavours scream authenticity.

Perhaps try the seafood stew (linguine con scoglio), which is cooked under a bread crust then opened with the bread used as a pizza-style base. More seasoning, thought might have lifted this dish.

As a refresher, old-fashioned and charming; comes a cream of mozzarella and tomato sorbet. 

By now you will probably be wilting but carnivores will adore the slow-cooked beef cheek (guincale) on soft polenta, served with roasted carrot. Ultra-rich and intense with the meat melting in your mouth. 

There is barely room for dessert, the tiramisu, however, is irresistible. 

Everything here screams attention to detail; knowledgeable and multilingual staff led by urbane maitre 'd Fabio Cazzanti, beautiful presentation and Lucaris crystal stemware to match a comprehensive wine list from which we enjoyed a savoury 2013 Fuligni Ginestreto Rosso di Montalcino, a perfect foil for the richness of the food.

Australians might like to know they can buy this food-friendly wine at Boccaccio Cellars in Melbourne.

Attico is a great space with tempting displays of cured meats, artisan cheeses and signature home-baked breads, along with an open kitchen (almost de rigueur these days).

Our only disappointment came after the meal when we had to wait some 15 minutes for the malfunctioning elevators to return us to ground level. 

# For those wanting a more relaxed Italian meal, Attico serves light lunches (antipasti buffet and a main course or dessert for around $25)  - and many guests come specifically for the range of pizzas.  
Attico489 Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoey Nua, Wattana, Bangkok. 
+66 2 302 3333.
# The writer was a guest of Attico.