Autentico Italiano© by John Axelrod Contact

where to find the best italian food outside Italy

Tuscan Gourmet in Seoul South Korea
(Edited after 3, yes, 3 meals)
©John Axelrod 2016

Tuscany is a word that immediately conjures up images of Florence, the rolling hills and olive tress of the countryside, the towers of San Gimignano and all the Chianti and Brunello wine and food of its region. Hard to imagine Tuscany transplanted to the Plaza Hotel in Seoul, on the square of the city hall. And yet, here is an autenticoitaliano dining experience that rivals Enoteca Pinchiorri, the palace of Tuscan cucina. However, Chef Maurizio Ceccato comes from the Veneto, thus, he highlights Tuscan flavor but offers a full panorama of Italian delicacies, from South to North.

Korea has been called the “Italy of Asia.” Both have a high temperament and crazy, insane drivers, both highly huge garlic in food, and big families are a tradition in both cultures. Most of all, both adore classical music. Lucky for me I am conducting Rossini’s Guillaume Tell Overture with the Seoul Philharmonic and eating in Tuscany.

The first word is this: Service is everything. They are proud of what they offer. Even a Trip Advisor reviewer agrees, calling it the best Italian restaurant in Asia. I had at least 5 waiters attending to every need. Instead of ordering a Tuscan meal, after my long travel from Sevilla, I settled for a more northern Veneto Venetian menu, (or Napolitano, depending on your preference). Naturally, I ordered a Tomassi Ripasso. Starting with a delicate capesante pan grilled and sautéed with peas and burrata, then onto a linguine gragnano vongole with the perfect balance of garlic and parsley, and then finally, grilled astice, lobster, with a paprika sauce and a melange of vegetables. Perhaps my only criticism on my first visit was the tiramisu which was more of a semi-freddo than a true classico.

And yet, when I returned, chef Maurizio heard my prayers (or read the review!) After two further meals, including a tasty eggplant parmigiano and scottadito Australian lamb chops (with, by the way, the Carnival of Love Shiraz from Mollydooker - see Velvet Glove review), and another exquisite Caesar’s salad and Spaghetti with lobster and zucchini in zingy tomato sauce, the tiramisu was this time, the perfect consistency: soft, sugary and subtle. Bravo! It reminds me of the old adage: You don’t ask, you don’t get. I asked, and Chef Maurizio delivered, thanks to the impeccable hospitality of the manager, Bo Yeon Li.

This is not for the quick cheap Italian bite. Some may be put off by the extensive and expensive award winning wine list, due to import taxes. But to find all the great Italian wines, plus French and even the best of the New World and American wines in South Korea? I tip my hat in respect.

If price is not a concern, and quality is, fortunately Tuscany is a true treat. For real high-end dining in Seoul, you cannot find better than this. Complimenti!

Address: 119 Sogong-ro, Sogong-dong, Jung-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea

Phone: +82 2-310-7200