The arrival of Appia, right out of a page of central Rome, is a most welcome addition to the Bangkok dining scene.
By Dave Stamboulis
While Bangkok may have an abundance of Italian restaurants, it has been sorely lacking in down-to-earth traditional trattorias, casual eateries where one can chill-out with friends while enjoying mouth watering roasted meats and interesting wines. Thus the arrival of Appia, right out of a page of central Rome, is a most welcome addition to the Bangkok dining scene.
Appia is the creation of Jarrett Wrisley, the Atlantic Monthly food critic and owner of the immensely popular Soul Food Mahanakorn Thai Restaurant in Thonglor, and his friend and business partner, Paulo Vitaletti, longtime master chef at the Aman in Beijing, and whose father was a butcher in the meatpacking district in Rome.
Paulo wanted to have his own place serving the simple and rustic Italian food he grew up with, where fine cuts of meat were combined with a few basic ingredients to create delectable dishes. Wrisley’s motto at Soul Food Mahanakorn was “wholesome ingredients and honest cooking,” and this fits right in with Appia’s style, where basic staples like olive oil, tomatoes, and semolina flour are put together with just a few items like hard pecorino cheese or guanciale unsmoked bacon with plenty of tender care to produce simple gastronomic delights.
In preparation for the opening of Appia, Wrisley and Vitaletti drove 2,000km around Italy eating their way from place to place and their research has obviously paid dividends. As a trattoria, it is no surprise that there is a focus on fine meats, the standouts, which include the porchetta organic pork rolled in fennel pollen, garlic, and rosemary and then roasted on a rotisserie or the oxtail stew rolled with herb gremolata served over hand rolled fregola pasta. All the pasta at Appia is made, cut, and rolled from scratch, and is featured in dishes like fusilli topped with cuttlefish stew and carbonara with dried paccheri pasta served with cured pork cheek and pecorino. The antipasto caprese in Puglia is a divine blend of burrata cheese, mackerel pancetta, eggplant, and marinated tomatoes served on bread.
Fine wines of course are the perfect complement to all of the lovely menu items, and Wrisley has provided a bountiful cellar featuring 60-70 interesting labels from small producers from all across the Mediterranean, and while the Appia menu is still in its soft opening phase, the restaurant plans to feature a changing dish of the day, sticking true to its Roman trattoria origins.
The décor at Appia — located about a kilometer up Sukhumvit Soi 31 — is simple, spacious, and inviting. While it is slightly less intimate than the old style Italian eateries (where one sits family style with strangers), nevertheless, the tables are lined up in close proximity but don’t feel cluttered. With the wines flowing freely and Chef Paulo wandering out of the kitchen to check if everything is satisfactory with each customer’s order, by the end of the evening feels like one has been lingering over a long and satisfying meal with family and friends.
20/4 Sukhumvit Soi 31