Cetara Ristorante e Pizzeria may not be a new fixture to Bangkok’s Italian dining scene, but it has been a staple on Sathon 12. What is new is that it has finally got a chef who’s menu makes it worth a second, third and fourth visit… you get the drift.
Chef Miro Mattalia, who took over the kitchen, recently and has revamped the menu to my delight. “As we know, Cetara is a small village on the Amalfi Coast, close to Naples, so I’ve created a menu that is based off the cuisine of Naples, but a little bit more light. I also use new technique that I learned during my career. The main focus is still fish but I concentrate on southern Italy’s seafood dishes,” explains the chef.
Though Italy and it’s coast isn’t just on a plate at Cetara, it’s on the walls, too. Making the dining experience even more “summer in Italy”. The a la carte has plenty of choices and you are spoilt for choice here. If there are oysters on the menu, I always tend to begin with them; Fine de Claire #2 B150 per oyster or Gillardeau #2 B320 per oyster.
Follow them up with Involtini di melanzane e spada con brodo di focaccia (B520) or as we would say aubergine and swordfish rolls with focaccia broth. The broth is made using the trimmings of the pizza dough and it is served with breadcrumbs made with taralli or salt cookies from Naples.
Octopus is another one of my favourites to order if on the menu. The Polpette di polpo su crema di scarola e colatura (B580) or octopus meatballs come with an escarole salad and colatura cream. “In the south of Italy, pickled escarole is often used. I like to use it to give texture on the plate with the octopus, which I didn’t want to use in a salad but choose to do something different with it,” explains chef Mattalia. Escarole being endive lends the fresh and crips addition to the deep-fried balls, which also go perfectly well with the anchovy cream. “The meatballs themselves have raisins, peanut and tomato confit and garlic,” adds the chef.
Risotto all’amatriciana di tonno (B520) or tuna risotto amatriciana is one of chef Mattalia’s favourite plates. “The amatriciana is one of my favourite sauces from Rome [and one of my favourites from Italy, too]. Traditionally, the sauce has onions, tomato, guanciale, Pecorino and Parmesan. I swapped the guanciale for smoked tuna, which is marinated for a day in rosemary and cinnamon and black pepper, and smoked for three days,” explains the chef, The risotto comes with onion rings and onion cream.
Pasta mista, crema di patate e granchio (B420) may look and sound like a simple combo of pasta, potatoes and crab, but it is anything but. “The pasta is mixed and originated in Naples, using the leftover pasta cuts from the factories. I add a touch of Asean influence because in the past Scilly and Naples were influenced by these countries; a touch of massaman curry with crab,” says chef Mattalia. Strange or ingenious? I wasn’t complaining.
Cetara has also started offering pizzas and if you have to order one, try the Pizza Napoli (not on the menu). It uses smoked tuna, stracciatella, burrata, Amalfi lemon peel, basil and cherry tomatoes. Yum!
It would be a shame if you did not order the Pesce del giorno (grigliato o in crosta di sale) or fish of the day (choose salt baked or grilled), served with side dish of the day, offered at market prices. I chose it to be grilled. “The sea bream is served with aioli, make with a little bit of yoghurt, and salmoriglio sauce. The sauce is from Sicily and made with parsley, Sicilian oregano, chilli, lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper,” says the chef.
Polish off your meal with a babà caramellato con gelato al limoncello (B480) or a caramelised rum baba served with limoncello burrata ice cream. “I found the class rum baba too boring so I caramelised it to give more character. The bitterness of lemon helps with the richness of the rum baba, as does the burrata,” adds chef Mattalia.
Cetera is open for lunch and dinner. Call 061-268-8634 or email email@example.com.