Taking over a stately old home on Sathorn’s tiny Soi Goethe, this Italian restaurant has well-heeled crowds going gaga for its low-key vibe, wine list that’s arguably the best in town, and polished yet rustic dishes. Compared to Il Fumo or Il Bolognese, the neighborhood’s other welcomingly residential Italian restaurants, La Casa Nostra’s friendly prices make more sense for return visits that aren’t business or date related.
For starters, the cellar (a standalone building big enough for a 12-person dining table) is one of the best in town. That’s thanks to the co-ownership of Global Vineyards, a wine company that supply a who’s who of the city’s best restaurants (from Gaggan to Robuchon). Here, they claim to add never more than B500 markup to each bottle, meaning you can cut your drink bill by up to a third. The labels come mostly from Italy and France, with great finds to be found all along the price spectrum. A device known as a Coravin lets you try upscale wines without them having to pop the bottle. On our last visit, though, we went for a bottle of 2015 Nals Margreid Pinot Bianco from Alto Adige, Italy (one of the “wines of the week”), which was a steal at B1,300/bottle, bursting with freshness and zip.
The food takes a comforting route with cold cuts, pastas and grilled meats joined by subtly flavored specialties that give nods to chef Nino Scognamillo’s hometown of Sicily. The starter of paprika-spiced roasted octopus (B490), is tender, lightly charred and served atop a potato veloute with just a hint of white truffle. The yellow fin tuna tartar (B390), too, comes in a subdued olive oil and raisin dressing that lets plump capers and soft eggplant carry the flavor.
Heading into carb territory, we’d advise against the mini pizza calzone (B160/2 pieces), whose perfectly deep-fried casing can’t make up for a dull combination of mozzarella, smoked ham and ricotta, but the fresh ricotta and spinach gnocchi (B580) is a must-try, coming with a light yet flavorful tomato sauce inspired by the chef’s grandma’s cooking. Expertly seasoned, the Australian lamb chops (B890) are everything you want in grilled meat, served with sides of sweet potato mash and daubs of yogurt and salsa verde that don’t detract from the main attraction.
In fact, it’s hard to find much fault with anything we’ve tried here. If there’s any issue with the food it’s that Appia mines similarly rustic territory, and does so with just that bit more aplomb. With wine so good and a setting that combines both cozy outdoor terrace (complete with petanque court) and darkened corners, La Casa Nostra is the real deal. No outside wine.