Gianni’s,” as it’s referred to by most, has earned this affection with consistently oustanding food.
Italian fine dining in Bangkok would not be where it is today without Gianni Favro. The longtime chef has delighted local rainmakers and power movers for the past 20 years with Mediterranean-inflected dishes, educating diners on the nuances of Dover sole, burrata and handmade pasta along the way. The refined setting echoes the restaurant’s reputation.
Visitors and locals alike are often astounded by not only the sheer number of Italian eateries here but also the level of quality and authenticity found in the handful of top venues. With his eponymous ristorante, now over a decade in operation, Gianni Favro certainly deserves much of the credit for Bangkok’s reputation as an Asian mecca for Italian cuisine. “Gianni’s,” as it’s referred to by most, has achieved this with consistently oustanding food, an elegant opera-house atmosphere, polished service and the requisite x-factor for successful high-end Italian restaurants: Favro himself, who splits his time between the back of the house and the dining room, where he makes the rounds as chef (describing and recommending dishes), sommelier (making wine suggestions) and charismatic host (with the help of his lovely wife, Gigi) to his moneyed customers. The only criticisms we have, in fact, result from Gianni’s reliance on himself. Sometimes it seems like he’s trying to do too much: the menu is too big, the kitchen too small and he can’t be everywhere at once. Standards are always high, but they’re certainly higher, both in term of food and service, when Favro is in the restaurant than on his days off. Similarly, while Gianni’s core team of loyal, long-term servers are among the most skilled anywhere, occasionally you’ll come across a waiter who seems better suited for fast food than fine dining. Another shortcoming reveals itself on especially busy nights, when a given dish might not be as well-executed as it would be on a slow evening or at lunch. For example, the fritto misto, with baby squid, tiny shrimp and fish filets on a bed of polenta is head-and-shoulders above the mundane deep-fried starters served elsewhere, but on a recent Friday evening it lacked the lightness and crispness we had enjoyed on previous visits. The menu is primarily still made up of authentic homestyle dishes. We hope Favro never removes permanent fixtures like the hearty and always perfect handmade strozzapreti pasta with lamb ragu or the best buffalo mozzarella in Bangkok, which is so delicious we’re willing to overlook the crunchy local tomatoes the cheese is served with. But, following a period of empire-building (other restaurants, food court pizza, catering), Favro has returned to the kitchen with a newfound passion for cooking—and experimentation. He’s using the sous vide technique to great effect, slow-cooking Wagyu beef cheeks to a tender, almost liver-like consistency and serving it with an Amarone wine reduction. This is a permanent fixture on the menu, but be sure to check the changing specials list for some of his latest creations. The “angelhair” pasta with spicy sausage and mushrooms was a bit too much like Thai-taste pan-fried bamee to justify, but our other choices were sublime: a terrific tartar of sweet line-caught seabass served marinated in a tangy caper citronette and dressed with a balsamic reduction and cracked pink peppers; toothsome ravioli filled with savory salted cod and pureed tomato in a sauce of spring onion-accented cheese; and an unbelievable dish consisting of a barely cooked poached egg coated with polenta flour and parmesan cheese then pan-fried and served in a Montasio cheese sauce with tender green asparagus. As would be expected, the 80-or-so seat restaurant is full most nights, so reservations are strongly recommended.
|Address:||Gianni Ristorante, Athenee Tower, 63 Wireless Rd., Bangkok, Thailand|
|Opening hours:||daily 11:30am-2pm, 6-10pm|
|Nearest train||BTS Phloen Chit|
|Reservation recommended, Parking available, Dress requirements: Smart Casual|
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