Where There’s Smoke, There’s Not Always Fire

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Not Always Fire
Where There’s Smoke, There’s Not Always Fire

Another grand old villa, this one down a private alley off Rama 4, is our second hidden gem – the Italian restaurant Il Fumo. Il Fumo is Italian for smoke, but don’t worry you’ll be in safe hands! The entrance is really easy to miss, so look for a sign on the road just past the Amanta Condominium. Pull down the alley about 200 metres and on the left you will find this exciting new restaurant in a house once owned by the descendants of King Rama IV. Founded by husband and wife team Choti and Debby Leenutaphong along with chef Luca Appino, this team is also behind Bangkok favourites La Bottega di Luca and Vesper Cocktail Bar & Restaurant. Il Fumo specialises in contemporary Italian wood charcoal grilled cuisine coupled with vintage craft cocktails.

Decorated like an Italian country home, the restaurant has two main areas – a bar just inside the front door and to the right a dining area looking into a glass-walled show kitchen. The bartending team is led by Pailin Sajjanit, and offers a bar menu that is “A complete and practical guide to the long-lost and lesser-known mixed drinks”. Fancy a Corpse Reviver 2.6, or an updated Rob Roy, or maybe a Sazerac? Be sure to try these and more at this throw-back cocktail bar. The food concept at Il Fumo is that great ingredients require minimal intervention. What nature has given needs as little adjustments as possible. Couple that with the power of fire, wood and charcoal, and you get the gist of how this restaurant operates.

Wood charcoal grilling allows the purest flavours to emerge from the ingredients. In light of this, the chefs seek out the best woods available in the market – all imported from Italy. Cherry wood is used for the meats for its tremendous aroma. Olive wood is used for fish, as its natural aroma is complimentary with the taste of the sea. Almond wood is used for red prawns and other delicate dishes due to its slightly nutty, but sweet characteristics. If you are not sure what to try, don’t miss the dry-aged Chianina cuts, the fresh burrata antipasti, the beautifully prepared octopus tentacle, and if you still have room the bomboloni con nutella (a doughnut filled with nutella). When ordering steaks, be sure to talk with your waiter to understand the portion sizes.

Many of the steaks have minimum cut sizes. For example, the Australian Wagyu Tomahawk minimum cut is 1,000 grams – this is probably meant for sharing. Running the kitchen is chef-partner Luca Appino, and head chef Walter D’Ambrosio. Luca honed his culinary skills all around Italy, but draws most of his inspiration from the Piedmont region in the north. Walter developed his cooking style in the Abruzzo region of Italy beside the Adriatic Sea. Together, they have created a style unique to Il Fumo. The restaurant is open Monday – Saturday: 6 PM – 1 AM (but the kitchen closes at 11:30 PM) and Sunday: 6 PM – Midnight (kitchen closes at 11 PM). For reservations, call +66 (0) 2 286 8833.