Boccalino restaurant - Seoul, South Korea
Visually, New York-based AvroKo has fostered the balance by drawing on and combining multiple stages of Italian design, from modernism to 19th-century classical motifs. Thus at the heart of the restaurant a chandelier made up of over 100 individually-blown glass lenses sparkles over a long, sleek central table where patrons dine communally in the evening hours, and floor to ceiling windows illuminate surfaces of marble or Venetian plaster splashed with bold geometric patterns.
In the buzzing open kitchen, a team led by head chef Loris Pistillo turns out faithful renditions of classic Italian dishes that incorporate contemporary touches and local ingredients, with a fileto di maiale (pork tenderloin) featuring renowned black pork from Jeju Island and a riboletta soup with Korean white beans among the standouts.
In the adjacent Bar Boccalino, the lights are dimmed and the classicism largely ditched in favour of sharp angles and touches of dark wood, creating a slightly risqué air that ensures the venue remains vibrant until the wee hours.