Craving Italian food? If you’re on Samui then you won’t have far to look before you come across a dependable Italian restaurant – there are many. Most are good, too. But if you’re looking for a really superlative place to eat and drink, with affordability in mind, then there are far fewer. And still fewer if you’d like a great location too.
Walk in through the door and you find yourself in a dining room that has a massive wooden decked terrace, from where you can look out over the entire bay of Chaweng. The blue of the sea is incomparable, and contrasts the strips of white sand beach in the distance. But despite the distinctly tropical surroundings, the feel of the restaurant itself is totally Italian. And that’s not because it’s filled with scads of Italian knick-knacks (there aren’t any), it’s completely down to the team who’re in charge of Dr Frogs; they make it what it is. Massimo Marianni is in charge of the cooking, while Simone Marchiori is the food and beverage manager here. They come from the same area in Italy, and their parents were friends before they were. They indulge in a lot of light-hearted banter, and it really feels if you’re in some laid-back restaurant back in Italy.
Massimo is a classically trained Italian chef who offers both traditional fare and some new takes on dishes. He’s a master chef who uses fresh seasonal local produce, such as Phuket lobster and locally caught seafood, as well as products that he imports directly from Italy. It’s a simple recipe for restaurant success, but of course it’s one that takes dedication to perfect. Massimo’s been on the island for quite some time now – 13 years – and knows exactly how please the most exacting of guests. Simone looks after getting in the supplies and pretty much everything else in the restaurant. They’ve both obviously done a great job; Dr Frogs has a lot of repeat guests and the venue’s highly popular.
With its setting and atmosphere, Dr Frogs could certainly get away with cutting a few culinary corners, but the point is that it never does. Everything’s made from scratch wherever possible, and diners get exactly the kind of food they would in a reputable Italian restaurant. The food’s not just highly tasty, but the dishes have the ring of authenticity about them. For example, Massimo makes a lot of his own pasta which he then uses to create unforgettable dishes. Try Crespelle al Salmone Affumicato, where salmon and pink besciamella are completed with delicate ricotta. Then there’s Penne Alfredo, a favourite dish, where chicken breast comes with porcini mushrooms and peas in a creamy tomato sauce. You’ll find many dishes have a simple sophistication, such as the risotto which comes with salsiccia, or sautéed Italian sausage. It’s nicely presented, as is all the food here, and extremely satisfying.
Along with all manner of pasta there’s also a generous selection of pizzas, with a variety of toppings. Massimo uses a time-honoured recipe for the dough, and once the ingredients have been added, the pizzas are cooked to perfection in the oven. Massimo and Simone hone in on the fresh and seasonal and write up daily and weekly specials on blackboards in the dining room. These dishes vary according to the local catch or what’s around at the markets.
Fish and seafood lovers always appreciate the lobster that Dr Frogs features on its menus. Highly tasty, they’re prepared in a variety of ways. Just try the thermidor, oven-baked in tarragon cream sauce with shallots and parmesan on a bed of lettuce. There’s also a Thai menu which focuses on best-loved dishes, and as with the international fare, freshness and mouth-watering tastes are the main considerations here.
Good wine is part of an Italian meal for many of us, and Dr Frogs certainly has an impressive list of them; they come from all major wine-growing areas world-wide and there’s a range in price, too. You can also choose between a staggering 14 house wines, and then there are all manner of cocktails and long drinks as well, especially good for a sundown tipple. For this you may wish to reserve a seaside table, as they’re extremely popular. There’s plenty of live music too, with award-winning acoustic guitar player and singer, Oliver Jones playing every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Unlike most Italian restaurants, you can also turn up here from 7:00 am until 11:00 am and enjoy one of the island’s best breakfasts, a gourmet treat; or rather a whole series of them, depending on what takes your fancy. It’s a relatively new addition to Dr Frogs, and came about when the owner built a luxury hotel next door, Boujis Boutique Resort. It offers maximum privacy to its guests, but is all part and parcel of Dr Frogs. The restaurant stays open all day, every day until midnight, with the kitchen closing at 11:00 pm.
Last but not least, Dr Frogs hosts many a gathering. Plenty of people choose to come here for birthdays, anniversaries and corporate events. Then there are the intimate weddings that are held right on the beach, followed by receptions in the restaurant.
Definitely a rather special place, Dr Frogs with its blend of elegance, sophistication and great food and drinks is certainly worth getting to know. And because there’s so much going on there, it’ll probably take a few visits before you’ve
experienced all that Dr Frogs has to offer.
For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7744 8505.