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Italian Restaurants, Bangkok: Restaurant reviews from an expert eater

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Big Bertha Fish Sauce: The story of the woman behind the fish sauce
Beer: A panel of international judges risks serious inebriation to bring you the lowdown on Bangkok’s best and worst beers

November 2004
Updated July 2006

Italian Restaurants in Bangkok
Article Summary: The author, a Bangkok expat and self-declared Italian restaurant review expert, offers his impressions of L’Opera, La Buca and Pinocchio, three of Bangkok’s best Italian restaurants.

When I want to eat out in Bangkok, I go to one of my favorite Italian restaurants. Why eat Italian food in Thailand, a nation known for its colorful and spicy food? Well, for one, Thai food is not all it's cracked up to be. (But that's another story.) The primary reason, however, is that Thailand has some of the best Italian restaurants in the world. This is because Thailand attracts great Italian chefs. Where do you go if you are from a warm, festive, food and leisure oriented culture like Italy, but you need more? You come to the Jewel of Siam, where leisure has morphed into an art form and your imagination can run wild.

I am an Italian restaurant review expert: A hobby that doesn't require any special training, big muscles or much thought and concentration. It does require some pocket money and it helps to have a partner in crime. The following is a review of some of the great Italian restaurants and Italian restaurant experiences that I have known in Thailand.


No report on Thailand's restaurants could be complete without describing L'Opera. In the pantheon of Italian restaurant gods, L'Opera is the chief god, the Brahma or Vishnu or whoever the god on top is. The restaurant is situated on Sukhumvit Soi 39, and has a billboard marquee like a real Opera. The whole place has the same dramatic effect, down to the waitresses who wear bow ties and vests that look like mini tuxedos. The restaurant has a bright sunlit upper floor replete with plenty of glass, fountains, and greenery. The lower floor is in wine cellar style with dark wood and recessed lighting.

The menu is extensive and there are daily rotating specials. My favorite part of the meal is the bruschetta sauce and breads that they serve before the meal. This is an innovation that I have not found elsewhere. The serving of bruschetta sauce and breads before the meal reminded me of the tostado chips and salsa that I used to get in Mexican restaurants, normally for free in advance of your meal. I say normally, because I have abused the privilege in more than one place, gorging on bowl after bowl of free tostada chips and salsa, bankrupting the pathetic owners, until they realized that they would have to charge me for the chips and salsa.

The owner of L'Opera is a portly domineering figure with a flair for dressing in outrageous and trendy fashions. He marches around surveying his restaurant, like a general inspecting his troops. I have never had the opportunity to talk to the gentleman but I am sure he knows me as the guy with the gym bag and all the books; who eats too much free bruschetta. He looks like a demanding perfectionist and his restaurant shows it. I would recommend anything on the menu except the soup. Stay away from the soup. My favorite is the seafood spaghetti and the salads.