Samui Wining & Dining
Going Italian

Visiting Olivio, Chaweng’s top beachside Italian restaurant at Baan Haad Ngam Boutique Resort & Spa.

18

 

If the only thing that Olivio Italian Cuisine had going for it was a picture-perfect location then that’d be the end of this story right away. But Baan Haad Ngam Boutique Resort & Spa, where it’s housed, and Olivio have a pedigree beyond contestation. Right from the resort’s inception, the restaurant was designed to be spearheaded into the island’s culinary awareness. It was established and subsequently lovingly expanded and tended during the first seven years by the legendary Luigi Fadda. He’s not only a native Sicilian but also a member of that elite group of gourmets known as the Chain De Rotisserie. He’s now moved on from Olivio. But he left a heritage – he insisted on leaving a heritage – which continues to re-present his dishes right down to the last nut and bolt. Or, more appropriately, the last pinch of pecorino and splash of salmoriglio.

       This dedicated attention to detail shines through when the resort’s finance department has to authorise the food and beverage purchases each month. The imported herbs, spices, sauce-bases, ricotta and cheeses keep on coming in. Yes, you can now get so many alternatives from the big hypermarkets. But the spirit of Luigi is still very much alive here. And that means genuine Italian ingredients. And that’s why the ‘southern Italian home-cooking’ menu continues to attract not only the visiting cognoscenti but also everyday lovers of Italian cuisine, alike.

       There’s a whole page-full of antipasti, such as the ‘Seaweed Linguine with Ragu of Duck and cherry tomatoes’ and the ‘Ruccola Salad with Fried Snow Fish’ and Parmesan cheese’. And that sets the tone for the rest of the menu. You won’t find just a couple of primi piatti or merely one or two salads to choose from. And, wonderfully, there’s a huge vegetarian section that runs onto a second page. It’s hardly surprising to discover that Olivio is where the Italians come in their droves to eat, every August, when Italy takes a national holiday and the island teems with groups and families looking for a taste of home.

       Luigi now works at the Chill @ Hip Restaurant and Beach Bar at Punnpreeda Hip Resort in Bang Rak. But he still keeps a fond and fatherly contact with his protégées at Olivio, of which the chief amongst the team of chefs here is Khun Maitree Thobumrung (usually known by his nickname of Khun Mai). One of the features of Olivio is that the pasta is made in-house and not bought-in, as is so often the case. More than that, it’s freshly made each day and it’s the traditional wheat pasta and not made from semolina.

       “In the high season, we usually need to make two batches,” explained Khun Mai. “The restaurant becomes quite busy in the afternoon and then there’s a lull before dinner. We have tables out on the terraces and also on the beach and you’d be amazed at the amount of angel hair spaghetti we can get through in a day!”

       The menu is certainly impressive but at first sight seems to be daunting – there’s just so much to look through! But that’s instantly overcome when you’re presented with an iPad, set into a leather book-style holder and monogrammed with the ‘Olivio’ logo. There’s a photo album of thumbnails that pinch-out to reveal every dish in superb hi-res detail – what an excellent idea! If you’re not Italian or have a clear insight into the meaning of all those Italian names, it’s a joy (and a relief) to browse.

       And that goes for the Thai menu, too, although in this case the actual menu itself comes complete with photos and descriptions of each dish. There’s a full range of all the traditional items including salads, soups, noodles, stir-fries, curries, and seafood and meat dishes. But what’s the betting that, after a few moments leafing through this, you’ll grin shyly and ask to see the iPad. It’s just so seductive and seems purpose-made for the job!

       But there’s more. The restaurant is open all day, with the dinner settings appearing at 6:00 pm and the kitchen finally closing at 10:30 pm. The ‘happy hour’ is from 2:00 – 6:00 pm, with all drinks (not just cocktails or local beers) coming on a two-for-one basis. And . . . they are also offering you a complimentary pick-up and return service from, and back to, your home or resort anywhere within the Chaweng, Choeng Mon, Bo Phut and the Mae Nam area.

       Olivio Italian Cuisine really has got its finger on the pulse of what hospitality is all about. The service is superb, friendly and attentive, the food is fabulous and with generous portions and, furthermore, it’s the best Italian restaurant that’s right on Chaweng Beach.

 

Rob De Wet


 


Copyright 2017 Samui Wining & Dining. All rights reserved Siam Map Company Ltd.