Bellino Wine Room
Sporting a décor inspired by the Italian island of Capri, this tiny wine room directly imports labels from many small vineyards at affordable prices.
Sporting a décor inspired by the Italian island of Capri, this wine room directly imports around 50 labels of wines from many small vineyards at reasonable prices (some even cheaper than Villa Market!); for example, you can get a bottle of Bottega DOCG Prosecco at B600 or ask for the 2009 Rocca Frassinello Le Sughere (B2,160). It also serves up a few tapas and Mediterranean dishes, which are evidently homespun, such as the delicious caprese salad (fresh mozzarella with olives and tomato, B350).
Bellino pulls the Friday-night crowds thanks to cheap(ish) wine that cuts out the supply chain middleman. But this is no Wine Connection.
The restaurant has plenty of charm, not least thanks to the talkative South African owner who works the minuscule dining room, and focuses on small-production labels you won’t find anywhere else in Bangkok. There are a few bottles which are always on the menu as well as 30-or-so names that change regularly. On our last visit, we finished off the last remaining stock of a Galassi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 2010 (glass B225) which, at its price point, is perfectly decent: tannin-rich and peppery with a deep color. It’s not perfect but has character—well in keeping with Bellino’s slightly ropey, boho-bordello styling.
There are beaded curtains, billowing fabrics, bamboo screens and acres of reclaimed timber, while dining occurs in light so low you can barely make out your plate. It’s all completely oblivious to the past 15 years in restaurant interior trends and, for that reason, quite refreshing.
Despite a wine menu heavily centered on Italian labels, the food is not so specific, with a small mix of dishes loosely tied together by a Mediterranean theme, from pastas (B350-375) to Greek salad (B295), Moroccan-spiced chicken (B400) and lamb kebab (B350). The lasagna (B375) looks and tastes as home-spun as Bellino itself: a decently portioned slice of what presumably comes from a tray cooked up the night before by a competent home cook rather than a professional chef. We’re not knocking it. The tomatoes used for the ragù have a sharp tanginess and the top is nicely gratinated, though the layers of pasta are somewhat pulpy.
Desserts are simple and unfussy—chocolate cake (B180) and sorbets (B150)—but ice crystals in the passion fruit sorbet mean it’s not really up to scratch for something so basic.
It’s easy to see why Bellino has become so popular within the tightly competitive Thonglor Soi 13 scene, but there are issues. Chief among them is a faint smell of misogyny. You could blame this on some of the customers it draws in; or you could blame it on a staffing policy of only taking young, good-looking females. Not that the service isn’t attentive. Still, no one wants to hear the table next to them shout “Spanking time girls!” when their olive oil is forgotten.
|Address:||Bellino Wine Room, 251/2 Thonglor Soi 13, Bangkok, Thailand|
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sat 5:30-11pm|
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