One of the most contentious discussions in the Bangkok expat world is where to go for a good Italian dinner. Folks seem to hold very strong opinions on this matter and one of the restaurants we’ve heard uttered in smaller circles as one of the better Italian spots in Bangkok is Sukhumvit 31′s, Bella Napoli.
Red plaid tablecloths, a wood-fired pizza oven, and an owner who walks around chummin’ it up with customers, Bella Napoli has got the Italian ambience nailed. And as a result, Bella Napoli has made a name for itself over the years by offering fantastic pizza and pasta dishes at reasonable prices.
With so many Bangkok restaurants using wood-fired ovens these days, Bella Napoli’s pizzas are certainly not unique in the way they are cooked, but they sure do come out of those ovens with extraordinary taste. As any connoisseur of pizza understands, a simple wood-fired oven is not the magic bullet for a great pie, so we had to ask the owner of Bella Napoli what the secret was to their deliciousness. With a subtle snicker he offered us a tight warm smile, excited eyes and then walked away in a silence that screamed, “Keep dreaming, buddy.” I guess some good things are better left untold.
We give credit to Bella Napoli’s menu for putting some new twists on some old favorites, such as presenting their Venice pizza (340 baht) as a bridge of parma ham over two bent breadsticks (pictured). It was visually appetizing, thin and crispy and mouthwatering enough to give the restaurant our unwavering support from this dish alone.
The porcini mushroom risotto (320 baht) was firm but not soppy, and the osso buco di manzo (380 baht) was so tender it almost fell off the bone. If you love parma ham and can’t be bothered with pizza dough, you can order a plate of the delicacy (380 baht) or with melon (420 baht) as an appetizer.
The house red wine (120 baht a glass) was robust while the tiramisu (120 baht) was sinfully rich. Take it down a notch with a glass of grappa (140 baht) after your meal.
An important aside about reservations: while you can often obtain a table without one on weekday nights, the middle, back room is to be avoided if possible, especially for dates. As you enter, there is a long, narrow room, a back room to your left, and another room to your left as you walk through again. Both of the outer rooms look out onto Sukhumvit Soi 31 and have adequate spacing between the tables with the muzak at an acceptable level. The back room is cramped, unnecessarily blasts the air conditioner on full power, and has a higher volume of Latino elevator music. You’ve been warned.
Location: 3/3 Sukhumvit Soi 31, near the mouth of the soi. Street parking is limited, so the restaurant recommends using the lot across the street.
BTS: Phrom Pong
Hours: 11:30 am-2:30 pm and 5:30 pm-11:30 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 am-11:30 pm Friday and Saturday.
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