La Gritta

By Elle Faraday

In the last two weeks we have reviewed two local Italian restaurants. Both offered their own unique delights and catered to different markets. One focused on the top end of the market and the other one was suited to those on a budget.

Stefan Frenzel, Executive Chef, Amari Rincome Hotel teaching the finer points of Italian Cooking to Muanfan Harris and Elle Faraday of the Chiangmai Mail.

This week, the Italian dining experience culminates in a visit to the crème de la crème of Italian Restaurants, the La Gritta restaurant located in the Amari Rincome Hotel.
Situated next to the stunning swimming pool and gardens, La Gritta offers its guests a wide variety of Italian cuisine as well as samples of other European delicacies. Executive chef Stefan Frenzel and his team are dedicated to creating the ultimate dining experience. Stefan is constantly improving the menu to suit his customers’ needs and can be seen every night talking to his guests. He feels that along with the quality of the food, this is what attracts people to his restaurant and puts it on a pedestal. Stefan is happy to listen and take suggestions from his guests—if they ask for something extra to be added to the menu then he may go away and prepare it especially for them.
We were lucky enough to be able to sample some of the Stefan’s special delights including divine braised veal shanks with risotto rice; an assortment of Antipasti (Parma ham, mozzarella cheese and home-baked bread) and a couple of delicious pasta dishes.
The veal shank looked mouth watering and tasted even better. It literally melted in your mouth. The rice, although simple, was a perfect side dish and complemented every mouthful of veal. The Parma ham was delightful and I savoured every mouthful as it’s been a long time since I enjoyed a slice of the premium European ham. The bread was superb, and unlike any other I have tasted since being in Thailand. Its unique home-made taste and texture will leave you craving for more.
While I was relishing these delights however, I was missing out on the pasta dishes that had been ordered. The Thai Penne Primavera is a pasta dish with a twist. It is cooked in red curry along with coconut milk, garlic and assorted vegetables – a perfect fusion of east meets west. The Ravioli as Radicchio is simply divine. The little pockets of cheese filled pasta are served in a delicious creamy yet peppery sauce with tempting little slivers of smoked salmon.
Despite the luxurious surroundings and excellent food, prices at the restaurant are extremely reasonable. Pasta dishes are available for as little as 380 baht, which includes a glass of wine. The most expensive pasta dish is 440 baht which again comes with a glass of wine.
Every month guests will find an offering of specialities from around the world. A special A-La Carte menu is prepared which allows the guest a choice of cuisine in addition to the Italian menu. This month features Spanish specialities whereas last month it was French dishes and before that food from California.
As a special treat, La Gritta is opening its doors to host a series of high quality cooking classes starting today. Food enthusiasts will be taught by Stefan himself and will learn how to cook many of the dishes on the menu as well as some secrets of the trade. It is a first for Chiang Mai as nowhere else offers European-style cookery schools. Stefan aims to teach his classes how to cook the dishes in their own home without the need for complicated and often expensive equipment. For example, you will be shown how to make bread with just your hands and an oven—no machines.
Once the cooking class is complete, everyone can sit down and enjoy their food in the luxury of La Gritta’s dining room. Wine tasting is also included so it is a good idea to leave the car at home and make a night of it! The thought behind the cooking class is to show that top class food can be easily and economically prepared and enjoyed.
I found the food and wine to be exquisite, the restaurant delightful and Stefan’s ideas and views extremely refreshing. I will certainly be joining Stefan to learn about the intricacies of Italian cooking although I can’t say that I will ever perfect them like he has done!