Sukhumvit 11 is clearly changing fast: beer vans sprawl along the traffic-choked street while gleaming hotels continue to pop up on any spare patch of land. But there are still remnants of the soi’s quieter past and La Piola is clearly one of them.
Just one glance at the rather bleak-terrace with its collection of tired metal garden furniture tells you it’s been around a while. Inside it doesn’t get much better, the faux brick effect, red and white checked tablecloths, bright yellow walls and half-empty tables doing little to instill confidence. But despite first impressions, La Piola does surprise, and with its warm service and homespun charm, provides a pleasant escape from the chaos of the soi.
There’s nothing new or exciting here, just classic Italian dishes well executed and at pretty affordable prices. Take for example, the Bruschetta Mama (B110); it’s a simple dish but the tasty bread comes piled high with a refreshing combination of fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic. The platter of mixed cheeses (B300) is another antipasto that’s not going to win any style awards—thin slices of different cheeses in a ragged circle on a white plate—but the quality of the produce outweighs such niceties.
The pasta dishes match this no-fuss approach and, while occasionally a little over-seasoned, are decent. The gnocchi gorgonzola (B360) features light and creamy homemade gnocchi which avoids stodginess while the cheesy sauce packs the requisite moreish punch. The pasta with Italian sausage (B340) is equally enjoyable, al dente pasta and a spicy meaty sauce.
Pizzas range from B160 for a simple marinara (tomato, chili and garlic) up to B390, and the good news is they come fresh from the wood-fired oven that glows away in one corner of the kitchen. They’re big too, the toppings are plentiful (even if the mushroom on the funghi e prosciutto (B290) was a little mushy) and there are no weird extras that plague many a Bangkok pie. Sure we’d prefer the base to be a little crisper but these are very solid pizzas nonetheless.
The fact that all this comes with smiling and efficient service, which includes a free shot of limoncello at the end, help make for a pleasant evening best enjoyed with a carafe of cheap, if drinkable house wine (B590/0.5 liter). In a neighborhood that gets more chaotic by the day, La Piola offers a welcome reminder of a time when this soi wasn’t all bright lights and seedy cocktails.
|Address:||La Piola, 31/4-5 Sukhumvit Soi 11, Bangkok, Thailand|
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sat noon-11pm; Sun 3-11pm|
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