When we were in Phuket a year ago October, our friends Stuart and Piyawat took us to an amazing Italian restaurant called La Gaetana. What sets it apart from other restaurants is that the owner, Polermo native Gianni, takes such tremendous pride in his business and pleasure in serving his guests.
When Piyawat made the reservations, I don’t know if he mentioned that dinner was for friends who were visiting again, but Gianni greeted me so warmly that I felt like a neighbor who had been away for a year and returned.
Instead of essentially re-writing the entry from the first visit, I’ll just cut and paste key portions of it here along with some new pictures.
“… The venue was this hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant called La Gaetana. And let me tell you, it was without question the best dining experience I have had in Thailand.
That may sound like hyperbole, but Polermo native Gianni and his Thai wife Chonchita run the most charming of restaurants with the most attentive service I’ve ever received in the Land of Smiles. The restaurant, located in a warmly decorated 80-year old building, seats just 32 so reservations are a must.
The food is great, atmosphere is cute, etc. but what really makes the experience worthwhile is the passion with which Gianni and his staff, many of whom have worked there for years, attend to your needs. His tableside bottle-opening and decanting is a show in and of itself, and illustrates just how much care is given to each detail of the dining experience.
Here’s a video that shows it all.
This is exactly what I could imagine myself doing in the future. Running my own small restaurant in some idyllic town, spending my days making my guests happy and ensuring they enjoy excellent food, wine and service.”
And now, pictures from dinner the other night:
Gianni opens a bottle of champagne, chilling the glasses with ice, as Matt looks on.
Antipasto platter with meats, vegetables, and cheese.
Assorted crostini – small toasts with chopped tomatoes or fresh cheese and pesto on top.
Grilled portobella mushrooms with gorgonzola cheese.
Lamb ribs, beautifully cooked, with a side of homemade gnocchi in tomato and eggplant sauce.
For dessert, apple tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream.
After we left the restaurant, I noticed that the Chinese temple across the street was showing an outdoor movie, with a screen set up in the parking lot and the film being projected from a portable 35mm projector in a tent at the back of the lot. This is the way it was done in the old days – and to some extent, still is – in the countryside.
A view from the inside of the temple compound looking towards the screen. Rather a sparse crowd this evening.