BANGKOK — Dining on fine Italian in Bangkok can be pricey, as one orders a 1,500-baht plus osso bucco for bragging purposes while palms sweat from the hole burned in one’s wallet.

But the lunch deal offered at a posh downtown Italian place may let you snag some gnocchi for less.

Open since 2011 on Langsuan Road, Medici Kitchen & Bar only won in November the Ospitalita Italiana award, an accolade from Italy’s tourism branch that certifies authentic Italian restaurants.

The win came after Chef Giuliano Berta, native of Brescia (“near Verona, famous for Romeo and Julietta”) came on board.

Read: The 52 Italian Restaurants in Thailand That Italians Won’t Scoff At

“If you go to a Japanese restaurant, you would expect sushi and miso soup. At an Italian restaurant, you would expect both pizza and pasta,” Berta said.

Medici, located on the underground floor at Hotel Muse, is one of the 52 awarded for the 2020 edition, out of the approximately 1,000 self-claiming Italian restaurants in the country.

Although much of the full menu consists of mains costing 500 baht and 1,500 baht-and-up prices, some of those dishes are offered on the more affordable lunch set. The lunch set costs 390 baht net price for a two-course meal, and 490 baht net for three courses. The portions are quite large per person, especially if one gets one of the eight-inch pizzas as a course option.

 Insalata di Spinaci.
Insalata di Spinaci.

Pictured above is an example of one of the possible three-course sets you can order, which includes the the Insalata di Spinaci, a baby spinach salad layered with savory grilled fennel, with zesty pink grapefruit, figs, and goat’s cheese to add body.

Diavola.
Diavola.

The second course is a Diavola pizza topped with spicy salami and black olives, was fragrant with olive oil and tang from the sourdough bread. Finally, the tiramisu was proportionately small but heavy on the coffee rather than sugar.

Tiramisu.
Tiramisu.

Here’s another possible lunch set. The starter here is a Fritto Misto, or deep fried squid and crab served with a lemon and tartare sauce as well as fried pasta sticks – a surefire crowd pleaser. The Pesce E Crostacei is a lobster bisque soup with a shellfish or two, but the soup itself was overpowering in its marine flavor.

Here’s another possible lunch set. The starter here is a Fritto Misto, or deep fried squid and crab served with a lemon and tartare sauce as well as fried pasta sticks – a surefire crowd pleaser. The Pesce E Crostacei is a lobster bisque soup with a shellfish or two, but the soup itself was overpowering in its marine flavor.

Fritto Misto.
Fritto Misto.
Pesce E Crostacei.
Pesce E Crostacei.

Finally, the pasta is Aglio Olio E Pancetta, a classic of garlic, chili, and pork belly. It’s best ordered for those who already love creamy pastas rather than those who would call it lian – a Thai word for overly buttery or greasy dishes.

Aglio Olio E Pancetta
Aglio Olio E Pancetta.

Dishes outside of the lunch set menu, while delicious, are still Chidlom prices – the Ravioli Foie Gras, is six pieces of foie gras tucked in ravioli layered with a rich truffle cream for 650 baht. 

Ravioli Foie Gras (650 baht).
Ravioli Foie Gras (650 baht).

The Spaghettoni di Mare, ripe with large prawns, squid, clams, and mussels, is 690 baht, and people can pick their level of spices from one to three (“Italians pick one, Thais pick two or three,” Berta said).

Spaghettoni di Mare (690 baht).
Spaghettoni di Mare (690 baht).

The Tartufata pizza is topped with black truffles and mascarpone cheese, eight pieces for 680 baht – slightly steep for pizza, but way too steep is the Filetto Rossini (1,550 baht), a tenderloin steak with a hat of seared foie gras. Seriously, go for lunch rather than dinner.

Tartufata (680 baht).
Tartufata (680 baht).

“I want to make dishes enjoyable by all crowds, to combine their preferences. It’s all about picking the right food to propose,” Berta said. “I don’t really have to adapt. I’m not going to make ingredients that don’t belong in Italian food, like ginger or lime. But in my experience, Thai people prefer dishes made from seafood sauces or bisques rather than heavy cream bases.”

Perhaps unlike the stereotype of the fiery, adamant Italian, Berta is mellowed-out from working all over Asia, including Bali, and not as incensed as other Italian chefs in Bangkok are when durian pizza is mentioned. Still, he won’t make “strange mixes” that Italian people won’t make, such as chicken on pizza, which he was often requested to make while working in Dubai.

Read: Mamma Mia! Bangkok’s Award-Winning Italian Chef Shares Food Horror Stories

Filetto Rossini (1,550 baht).
Filetto Rossini (1,550 baht).

Berta, 39, said the Ospitalita Italiana inspectors checked his menu, wine list, and whether there was an Italian speaker in the restaurant. In Medici’s case, it was Berta, but in other restaurants, it can be the manager as well.

The menu also has ample vegetarian options, even in the set lunch, where one can get one of the salads or a tomato soup with the gnocchi or margherita pizza, followed by any of the desserts. Vegan options pepper the main menu, such as the Carpaccio di Anguria (290 baht), which Berta is especially proud of.

Carpaccio di Anguria (290 baht).
Carpaccio di Anguria (290 baht).

Modelled off of beef carpaccio, slices of watermelon are grilled for 40 minutes, then caked overnight, smoked, frozen, and sliced. The whole process takes almost two days, before it’s served with avocado salsa and crispy bean curd.

Even after finishing the entire plate, it’s hard to pin down the exact texture of a watermelon carpaccio – juicy, yet smoked, yet not meat.

The watermelon, like most fresh produce used at Medici, is locally-sourced.

“You only need Italian ingredients where it makes a difference, such as olive oil, cheese, and cold cuts. For the rest, it’s good to support local businesses because Thailand has very good crops.”

The restaurant also boats opera performances by Fivera, Thailand’s only pop-opera band, on Tuesdays through Saturdays, rotating between rock, Broadway, jazz, opera, and pop-opera. Yes, that means listening to Phantom of the Opera while munching on a slice of margherita.

Giuliano Berta.
Giuliano Berta.

Medici’s decor is of dark wood, wrought iron, and velvet seats, yet another Gatsby-themed restaurant. If one can get over the strong, musky perfume smell that permeates the entire hotel, and then a lunch at Medici is certainly a good deal to try authentic Italian food for a shabu-shabu buffet price. There is no end date set yet for the lunch set, which is available every day.

Medici Kitchen & Bar is open from 12pm to 2:30pm for lunch, and for dinner from 6pm to 11pm every day. Located on the LG floor at Hotel Muse, they’re a short walk down Langsuan Road from BTS Chit Lom.


This review is unsponsored and based on a hosted visit. 

Photos by Tappanai Boonbandit

Medici’s set lunch menu.
Medici’s set lunch menu.

Related stories:

The 52 Italian Restaurants in Thailand That Italians Won’t Scoff At

There Are 44 Italian Restaurants in Thailand Rome Approves Of

Mamma Mia! Bangkok’s Award-Winning Italian Chef Shares Food Horror Stories

Steer Clear of Fake Italian Food, Ambassador Advises Thai Diners