Samui Wining & Dining
Sizeable Delights

Olivio serves up authentic Italian dishes agains the backdrop of the borderless sea.

 

14-15Size does matter. Yes, the saying is as clichéd as a wrinkly rocker dating a teenage ingénue, but you know it is one of those whimsical truths of life that governs almost everything from the cup size of a bra to a Starbucks coffee. In the universe of food, we all enjoy molecular dining every now and again, for the novelty of sampling culinary exquisiteness using nothing but a pair of tweezers and a microscope (so that you don’t erroneously stab at the vast vacuum that surrounds the proton-sized amuse-bouche). But a soulful experience comes in all shapes and sizes, in the same way that Adele can belt out a tune as finely as the blink-and-you’ll-miss, all five feet two inches of the late Amy Winehouse… Only there’s no need to squint for Adele’s stage presence.

    There’s nothing molecular about Italians at all. From people to architecture; from culture to food, the Mediterranean country is renowned for its blatant allure. Olivio, the Italian restaurant located at Baan Haad Ngam Boutique Resort and Spa in North Chaweng is the perfect example. Residing in a tranquil area away from the ball of energy that is Central Chaweng, Olivio is ideal for love-birds and families to share a meal in a peaceful atmosphere. Akin to a charming Italian first date, the restaurant will sweep you off your feet with a gentlemanly pick up from your hideout in Mae Nam, Bo Phut, Choeng Mon or Chaweng. And once you step out of the car, the flirting immediately begins.

      The lush green path that hovers above a pond filled with Koi carp, culminates in a stunning panoramic view of the turquoise sea that is guaranteed to blow you away. Pause for a moment to take in the magnificent vista: there’s Choeng Mon on your left and the entire Chaweng bay to the right. Let your line of vision guide you to the furthest ends of the earth, because there aren’t many places on the planet where you can visually caress its curvature. Before you accept the sea’s blissful invite to drop through the precipice that lies far, far ahead, take a look around you. The combined effect of the landscape and the amber-hued wall, the white floor tiles and the floating lotus enveloping the circumference of the restaurant really does say it all: ‘You take as long as you need here’.

       Take your time to read through the extensive offerings on the menu: there are almost 20 choices each for appetisers, primos, secondos and desserts. From Caprese to green salads; from gnocchi to risotto; from veal to sea bass… Everything you could wish to sample in an Italian restaurant is here. Try Olivio’s lunch time ‘noodles promotion’ between noon and 4 pm: for 130 baht, you can sauce your hand-made capelli d’angelo, spaghetti, farfalle, fusilli, penne and fettucini with carbonara, bolognese, napolitana, arrabbiata, Pesto or garlic chilli sauce. On top of the regular menu that spans almost 15 pages, there are chef’s specials every month, offering dishes from 150 baht. The succinct menu presents a few choices of appetisers, first courses, main courses and desserts cooked up with seasonal ingredients. While you are here for lunch, enjoy Olivio’s 2 pm – 7 pm happy hour, when selected cocktails and beers are 'buy one get one free'.

       Going back to our original ‘size’ argument, it’s enthusing to know that Olivio doesn’t let satisfying your trained taste buds overlook the need to fill your eager stomach. The culinary journey begins with a basket of home-baked bread consisting of warm bread sticks and rolls to serve with dips that are also made fresh daily. The olive paste is crafted with imported Kalamata olives, while the salsa and pesto are made with the freshest ingredients grown locally – greatly reducing the food miles, while guaranteeing the fragrant nature of these simple delights. Complement your meal, and the environment, with Olivio’s monthly wine promotion: for 990 baht a bottle, take your pick between a selected white or red wine.

       As the cool South African white trickles down our chilled glasses, our starters appear on our table just moments later. The benevolent portions of our Insalata Caprese and salmon with mesclun mix with black olive dressing are invigorating. The mesclun mix salad is peppered with one-inch cubes of lightly fried salmon. The juice of the fish is encapsulated in the golden crisp exterior of the meat; each cube is a gastronomic explosion in the mouth. We can definitely live and die on this beautiful marriage of texture and flavour for the rest of eternity!

      Having indulged ourselves in the freshly baked bread and the gorgeous appetisers, we welcome the arrivals of our spaghetti bolognese and carbonara. The carbonara is cooked up with generous bits of bacon, egg, cream and parsley while the tomatoey bolognese sauce is pregnant with quality meat. But the best of our primos lies in the pasta. Pin-rolled daily, the spaghetti is all fresh egg goodness and perfectly al dente.

      Having spent a fulfilling time here at Olivio, we struggle to fit an extra molecule in our over-stretched stomachs. We walked out in shame knowing we failed the pastry chef for not attempting the salivating classic Italian dessert menu. But then again, our failure paves a return trail to Olivio, and we’ll remember how size – especially our stomachs – matters when it comes to braving the all-encompassing Olivio menu.

 

 

Kawai Wong


 


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