Forget fine dining. You won’t find any ‘drizzling’ or ‘coriander emulsioning’ going on here. In fact, there’s nothing contemporary at all on the menu. But what there is here is 100% homemade, traditional and authentic Italian food. And there are many times when that’s exactly what you want!
La Taverna is located right in the heart of Chaweng’s lively nightlife area, just 10 metres down the lane which runs parallel to Soi Green Mango, off Chaweng Beach Road. And it’s everything you’d expect from a real Italian restaurant. Framed prints of Italy on the spotless white walls, soft atmospheric lighting, the friendly chatter of satisfied diners and the appetizing aroma of Italian cooking wafting in from the kitchen. Plus one of the friendliest and most interesting hosts you’ll ever meet, and that’s the owner – Carlo Magello.
“…But a word of warning if you order a pizza. They are absolutely HUGE. If they made motorbike deliveries from this restaurant, they’d need a Harley Davidson!”
He’s flamboyant and fun, and takes great delight in greeting every customer personally, making sure that everybody’s totally happy. And it’s entirely effortless. Which comes as no surprise when you hear that up until a few years ago Carlo was the Managing Director of Gucci (UK), mixing socially and professionally with the rich and famous, including royalty. And, having held that position for 15 years, if he doesn’t know how to be sociable, then no-one does.
Since Carlo bought the 100-seater, air-conditioned La Taverna in June 2007 he’s already transformed it into one of Samui’s finest Italian restaurants, and definitely the best traditional one. And earlier last year Carlo went one stage further by adding an elegant ‘restaurant within a restaurant’ as an alternative for his diners, which, although serving food from the same menu, is totally different in style. It’s intriguingly called X, and it certainly does have an exciting x-factor.
Covered by an elongated glass dome-like ceiling, and being festooned with luscious tropical pot plants, there’s a relaxing ‘conservatory’ feel to the place. And the discreet electric-blue spotlighting, combined with spacious seating for just 20 diners and an adjacent sophisticated lounge bar (you’re welcome to come here just for a drink too) creates a unique atmosphere of refined splendour. Plus, whilst you’re here, do visit the exceptionally lovely jade green bathrooms, complete with full-size ornate Balinese figurines – they’re so beautiful, you should take your camera along too!
Now that I’ve given you a guided tour, let’s get back to the food and what’s on offer. Well, think of your favourite Italian dish and the chances are that it’ll be there. But if you want to make doubly sure, you can always request a dish the day before and it will be prepared especially for you. Now that’s what I call customer service!
Just try the Antipasti Rustico with its Parma ham, salami, Mortadella cheese, tomato, roast peppers, artichokes and melon, and you’ll immediately be assured that it’s the real thing here. Then go for the Spaghetti allo Scoglio with its fresh seafood and tomato sauce, or the Bucatini alla Amatriciana with bacon, onion, chili and tomato sauce to prove the point – you won’t be sorry. My particular favourite is the Costolette di Agnello Australiano alla Griglia – grilled Australian lambs chops with a puree of potatoes and zucchini, and for very good reasons.
But a word of warning if you order a pizza. They are absolutely HUGE. If they made motorbike deliveries from this restaurant, they’d need a Harley Davidson! The most popular pizza here is the Capricciosa, with tomato, Mozzarella, ham, mushrooms, salami and olives, and I’m not surprised, it really is delicious. Especially so when enjoyed with a nice bottle of wine – Italian, of course.
“… just try the Antipasto Rustico and you’ll immediately be assured that it’s the real thing here.”
And you can’t eat traditional Italian fare without having a Tiramisu or a Panna Cotta for dessert. That and a freshly-brewed cup of espresso or cappuccino. And when Carlo spots you rounding off your meal he’ll be over like a shot with a bottle of grappa. He wants you to feel comfortable, like you’re eating at home – but with someone else doing the cooking!
Carlo’s not the only one here who creates this homely, friendly ambience. The ever-present smiling waitresses are constantly revolving around the restaurant also keeping everybody happy. And I must say that an evening’s dining at La Taverna really does feel more like being at a dinner party in a friend’s house than a visit to a strange restaurant in a foreign country. This is a truly authentic Italian dining experience and comes highly recommended.
The restaurant opens at midday and closes when the last customer leaves.
For reservations and further information telephone +66 (0) 7730 0421
Chaweng Beach Road, Chaweng Center