The last time we visited L’OLIVA was almost a year ago, during their opening party in December 2019. A lot has transpired since then, including the global pandemic that dropped the entire F&B industry into an unprecedented crisis. Walking into a full weekday lunch crowd in L’OLIVA’s quaint 2-storey house (that resembles a revitalised cottage in the Italian countryside) spoke volumes of how well they have done in adversity.
Take a closer look, you will see casual and slightly more formal indoor dining zones, a wine bar, an attached cafe “Caffè Olives”, a glasshouse room with a chef’s table for private events, a sizeable green backyard with some home-grown produce and most importantly, ample parking space, all in the lesser-known Sukhumvit Soi 36, still within comfortable walking distance from Thong Lor BTS Station. L’OLIVA was built to thrive.
The first dish put a smile on my face. It did not look like any typical salad, more like a plate with of 3 separate starters. The unfamiliar but surprisingly-pleasant combination of butter and anchovy, and extremely-seasonal puntarelle salad left us looking forward to what was ahead.
PUNTARELLE ALLA ROMANA • Puntarelle Salad with Anchovy Dressing (Seasonal Special)
The following pasta and pizza were solid, though less memorable. The pizza dough was unexpectedly thick, light and fluffy at the same time. It was like biting into a warm comforting sandwich.
SALTIMBOCCA BUFALA E CRUDO [450฿] • Mozzarella Bufala, Parma Ham, Rocket and Tomatoes Pizza Sandwich
The Abruzzo-style lasagna was made the traditional way, with Scarmoza cheese instead of Mozzarella, giving the dish a richer creamier but drier mouthfeel compared to what we are used to.
TIMBALLO ABRUZZESE [420฿] • Abruzzo’s Traditional Lasagna, Beef, Pork, Tomato Sauce & Scamorza Cheese
The main dish was the exact dish I had during my first dinner in Italy more than a decade ago, a salt-baked Mediterranean sea bass with lemon.
SEABASS BRANZINO AL SALE [650฿] • Whole Sea Bass Fish Baked in Salt Crust with Lemon
The waitress expertly removed the salt crust, rolled off the fish skin and left us to enjoy the sweet sea bass that tasted nothing like those farmed ones lining the streets of Bangkok.
The complete removal of all fish bones before baking was a bonus as well, an added effort from the team in the kitchen that cannot be taken for granted.
CANNOLI ABRUZZESI [280฿] • Cannoli Stuffed with Ricotta & Mascarpone Cream
Lastly, a visit to L’OLIVA cannot be complete without finishing the meal with a cannoli, which is a crunchy deep-fried pastry shell filled with mascarpone and ricotta cream. This is not something easily found in Bangkok, so do not miss it.