Chaweng was once dotted with little beach-hut resorts, owned by local families. Now nearly all of them have disappeared, either swallowed up, side by side, to make a much bigger resort, or torn down and restyled. One of a handful that remains is Malibu Koh Samui Resort & Beach Club; although now everything’s been modernised, and there’s all the comforts of home. But what’s really super is the greenery: mixed in and around the charming little bungalows and cottages are some of the biggest trees and bushes on the island – it’s real picture postcard stuff!
The restaurant here, Marzano Pizzeria, is not one you’ll see in tourist brochures, although that fearsome online judge and jury, TripAdvisor, has nothing but glowing praise for it. On the other hand, it’s one of those gems that Samui’s residents, and one or two others in-the-know, have got etched in their minds. It’s a lovely little restaurant, light, bright and airy, and right on the edge of the beach. It has a modestly good selection of quality European dishes, such as burgers, sandwiches and salads. It offers all the favourite Thai dishes that everyone always asks for. But what makes people travel all the way across the island to go there are the pizzas.
Putting it simply, you’re either a pizza aficionado, or you just grab a pizza for a change of dietary direction from one of those chains on the high street. Sad to say, those USA-style pizzas with 30 centimetres of doughy soft base, no matter how
addicted you might be, are not the real thing. If you’re reading this and getting annoyed, try this simple test. Buy an American-style pizza base, cook it without any topping, and then eat it. What do you taste? You’ll end up with your jaws
stuck together by tasteless dough. On the other hand, the Neapolitan-style pizza, with its thin and crispy base, as actually has a pleasantly yeasty bouquet with a hint of herbs – people eat it every day in Italy, plain with no topping, with just a sprinkle of olive oil. Just the base, alone, tastes great!
But here’s another little test. Next time you go to your favourite Italian restaurant, order a pizza and see how long it takes. Even real Italian eateries need some time to get the oven up to temperature: it’s too expensive to keep it running full-tilt all the time. But here at Marzano, the oven is running full-time every day, at the full temperature of 400 degrees – there is that much demand. To get a pizza with your choice of toppings takes about six minutes, or a few more if the chef’s already busy!
The pizza dough is prepared and made fresh every day (as is the range of pastas). And the toppings are, as you might expect, extensive. There are 14 different ‘à la carte’ pizzas for you to choose from. Or, if you wish, you can customise a pizza to your own inclination. And a tip here: check out the mussel toppings (with or without extras); the mussels with white wine, cream sauce or tomato sauce will have your taste buds in such a quiver of ecstasy that, at just 220 baht they’ll be shouting for more.
Another welcome feature is the chef’s chalkboard. This is a sort of menu supplement which gets changed every week or so. And if you’re lucky it might just be featuring the quirky selection of Thai-style pizzas. The seafood tom yam is a fave, as is the green curry chicken. And if you’re feeling adventurous, go for the ‘pad kra proaw nua’ – chopped beef in a deliciously
succulent rich and spicy sauce with basil.
Marzano is a low-pressure high-chill restaurant. There’s no need to order food (although I challenge you not to!) They have great Italian espresso, a super range of cocktails and wines, and a happy hour that runs from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm – perfect for sundowners. And this means you’ll be able to enjoy special prices on a whole range of beers, too – how about San Miguel, Heineken or the Japanese Asahi at just 70 baht a bottle! Excellent!
And so to the treasure map. If you’re on the beach, then Malibu and Marzano Pizzeria are just a little way south of the famous Ark Bar. Coming in off the beach road, locate Starbucks at the frontage of the entrance to Central Festival. Just
across the road is a tiny lane with an exchange booth on the corner. Turning into this will take you to lots of bamboo cladding and a very modern reception area. Then just follow your nose between the lovely little bungalows and the
gigantic trees to the beach.
What your nose will be telling you is that this is the way to a hidden gem of a restaurant that’s not expensive, and with some of the best pizzas anywhere – you can even taste the flavour of their pizza bases in fact; they’re just that good!
Rob De Wet
For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7733 2855.