Dec 31 2012
We spotlighted a few of Bangkok’s best pizza joints back in October 2011, but that was before Pala Pizza Romana hit the scene just over a year ago. This casual, easy-to-reach restaurant brims with red, white and green goodness and has since become our go-to spot when an Italian craving needs quenching.
While Bella Napoli is the perfect spot for a long sit-down meal and Pizza Mania has the delivery thing down, Pala has filled a big hole when it comes to pizza by the slice. The small, bright and clean air-con eatery is in the perfect location to snag a few slices for the road — right next to Terminal 21 on Sukhumvit Road, along the short stroll from Asok BTS station to Sukhumvit MRT station. It could be mistaken for a chain restaurant from outside, but don’t be put off by the modern facade and corporate looking logo — Pala is one of a kind.
Well, one of a kind in Southeast Asia at least. The restaurant is owned by a team of Thais and Italians, one of whom operates a famous pizzeria in Rome. It’s no surprise then that Pala’s pizza is Roman style, which is baked the traditional way but features a relatively thick and firm dough shaped into a long rectangle instead of the typical circle.
At Pala, the pie bubbles up to a texture soft beneath the melted imported cheeses but with a slightly charred crispness along the crust. Sublime sweet plum tomatoes and imported Italian ham, sausage and mushrooms add not only colour but also flavours that leave us wowed. Each slice is divided into four pieces so it’s fun to choose several varieties and share with a group.
Two slices are more than enough to fill most solo diners and they run from 45 to 105 baht each. Whole pies are available from 360 to 840 baht for 1/2 metre or 984 to 1,596 for a full metre, and delivery is now available via Food Panda.
Pala also serves fantastic salads that are big enough to be a meal and are priced accordingly from 150 to 220 baht. Try the classic Caprese, which nails the fundamental simplicity of Italian cuisine by mixing fresh Italian basil and tomatoes along with generous hunks of imported mozzarella and fresh ground pepper. All of the veggies we’ve tried — both cooked on pizza or fresh in salads — taste as though they were grown in some nonna’s garden in the Italian hills.
Pasta dishes are similarly portioned and priced in the 190 to 240 baht range, and each come with a choice of fresh house-made or imported Italian pasta. We can proclaim from experience that the frutti di mare, Carbonara and Calabrese are all very tasty. If you don’t know the difference between perciatilli and tagliolini, one of the efficient yet friendly servers will appear with neatly laid out examples of all 15 pasta options.
Though the food would fit in at a high-end, fine dining restaurant, Pala feels like a casual neighbourhood deli/pizzeria with raised tables surrounded by bar-style stools and the latest mainstream hits playing over the soundsystem. The restaurant isn’t huge and it’s often necessary to wait for a table around lunchtime, though turnover is generally quick.
Be warned, though, that the casual setting doesn’t necessarily (or normally) correlate to an inexpensive meal unless you have the discipline to stick only to pizza. Expect to shell out 300 to 500 baht per person if wanting to sample a mix of pizza, salad and pasta, and double that if adding a glass or bottle of one of many Italian wines, home-baked cakes and/or authentic espressos. Add an irresistible deli that offers take home sliced Italian hams and cheeses and an array of imported products, and your quick stop for pizza can quickly turn into a small investment.
Yet even if you watch two days worth of travel expenses inexplicably transform into truffle oil, Salami Toscano and enough slices of Margherita to last the length of that train ride down to Singapore, we still reckon it’s worth it. Every product and dish you’ll find at Pala Romana is at a level of quality scarcely come across in this part of the world. Buon appetito.
Pala Pizza Romana
Sukhumvit Platform, Bangkok (just east of Terminal 21 and right next to the entrance to Sukhumvit MRT station and Asok BTS station exit 3)
T: (022) 591 2289
Open daily 10:00 to 0:00
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