Could Italian cuisine be the most popular worldwide? That’s something this writer has often pondered. Certainly wherever I’ve travelled there is always an Italian restaurant or Pizzeria, and even here in coastal Hua Hin Thailand, there is a fair share of Italian eateries from simple to high end. Once such establishment that has stood the test of time is La Grappa in Hua Hin’s ‘old town’ serving fine Italian cuisine in Hua Hin since 2003.
On a recent visit, we had the pleasure of meeting Chef Patron Luigi Sica. A native of Como in Italy’s northern region of Lombardy, Chef Luigi has been in charge of the La Grappa’s menu and kitchen for the last four years. Passion for his food was undoubtedly evident as we chatted. In fact, Luigi proudly announced that he had some fantastic white and black truffle from this year’s season and would be highlighting the truffle on several dishes we had chosen to try. Such an exotic introduction to La Grappa and Chef Luigi’s cuisine.
Our food journey began with three starters. First a classic selection of fine Italian cold cuts – melt in your mouth Prosciutto San Daniele, Coppa di Parma, Mortadella, Salami Milano, and Speck Alto Adige (lightly smoked and air cured Italian ham) all served with a small selection of pickled vegetables. Next was Beef Carpaccio – sliced wafer thin and serves on a bed of fresh rocket leaves and topped with a whole Burrata cheese – creamy as we liked and topped with shavings of truffle.
Our third starter was a citrus marinated Salmon Tartare. Accompanying the salmon was a passionfruit sauce and wasabi. On an intellectual level an unusual pairing, yet the sweet and slight sharp of the passionfruit, the gentle heat of the wasabi and the finely diced salmon with citrus overtones were a perfect trinity of flavours and ultimately, our favourite starter!
To sample the restaurant’s pasta dishes we chose a Linguini Pasta with Hua Hin Slipper Lobster, cherry tomatoes and basil – perfectly cooked medallions of lobster in the deliciously rich tomato sauce. Our other choice was the Homemade Veal Ravioli sitting on a Parmesan cheese fondue and topped with a white truffle foam. What an abundance of striking flavour all in one dish!
For mains we chose the Imported Pike Perch – perfectly pan-fried, sitting atop a violet potato puree and accompanied by a white wine sauce. Aged Australian Angus Beef served Rossini style was our other main. Beef tenderloin topped with a generous slice of grilled Foie Gras, thin slithers of black truffle all with a Madera sauce. Melt in your mouth beef accompanied with rich, meaty goodness in the sauce and foie gras – heavenly for this writer!
La Grappa’s wine menu is a tour of Italy in itself and one of the most comprehensive this writers seen for some time. Hand selected wines from all the major Italian regions from the north all the way to Sicily in the south. Start with Prosecco, then perhaps a Pinot Grigio, and onto the reds – the choice is outstanding. Don’t forget the Grappa!
A visit to an Italian restaurant cannot pass without ‘Dolci’ – desserts and Chef Luigi excelled once again. The Classic Tiramisu – coffee, liqueur-infused biscuits, mascarpone, cream and cocoa – everything you could want from this classic dessert. A Bavarian Mango Mouse with a passion fruit sauce and Amaretto crumb. Or our final selection, a Panna Cotta with a strawberry sauce. That perfect ‘wobble’ of the Panna Cotta, not too sweet with the strawberry sauce as a perfect counterbalance. This was definitely our favourite dessert!
More in the mood for something simpler like a Pizza – no problems as La Grappa’s wood-fired oven is on and ready to go. The menu provides ten choices starting with the classic Margherita or perhaps the La Grappa special with tomato sauce, mozzarella, Nduja, Italian sausage and black truffle.
Fancy a lunch get-together but not big on decision making then perhaps La Grappa’s Lunch Set Menu is a great alternative. Two courses and dessert for 495 THB or three courses and dessert for 645 THB. There is a choice of three dishes for each course so still lots of option to tantalise your taste buds and great value!
La Grappa is situated on Poolsuk Road in central Hua Hin and operates seven days a week with lunch from 12:00 to 14:30 and dinner from 18:00 to 22:00. Reservations are always recommended and can be made on +66-32-516510 or +66-922-814664. For more information on the restaurant check out their website www.lagrappa-ristorante.com