Buonissimo-Italian wine shop/delicatessen

Where you can sit down to eat!

When you first walk into Buonissimo, you may be unsure of where you are, and what you are standing in. It is, at first glance, a delicatessen. Refrigerated glass cabinets with cheeses and meat abound. However, you could be in a wine bottle shop, as there are racks of wines for perusal and sale. Then again, you could be in a restaurant, as there are a few tables and chairs set up restaurant style.

The answer to this conundrum is a passionate Italian called Sergio, who has been running his food and wine business for many years. He also had a restaurant, and only recently decided to bring them all under one roof on the Chiangmai-Prao Road. However, he really couldn’t get them all under one roof, so there is also a piazza and garden restaurant alongside. Confused? Don’t be. Sergio will explain it all, complete with that unmistakable Italian ‘English’ and much waving of the arms. Sergio is Italian!

After a tour of the premises, including the temperature controlled wine cellar, we chose the homely dining area upstairs. Comfy, nice tablecloths and cutlery, and attentive service. We felt immediately ‘at home’.

The menu is Italian, with 213 Italian choices. That should cover everyone’s tastes. The menu also covers everyone’s pockets, with many dishes being extremely inexpensive. It is also in Italian (naturally) and English and in Thai.

It begins with antipasti with a garlic pizza at the low end (B. 59), going on up to the classic Parma ham and melon at B. 269, but with the bulk of the items under B. 150, even including smoked salmon.

Around 30 pasta items are up next, spanning two and a half pages, covering spaghetti, penne or fettuccine, with around half of the items under B. 100, including the carbonara of eggs, bacon, cream and cheese, with the rest of the choices generally under B. 150.

Risotto dishes come in at between B. 160-220, and the following soup choices between B. 55-99, with a spinach and mushroom soup catching my eye at B. 59. The salads (B. 60-159) have every word ending in ‘o’ that you could ever want - tomato, tonno, pomodoro, parmiggiano, oregano, pecorino Romano and even a formaggio (wasn’t he married to Marilyn Monroe?).

Ten fish choices are up next (B. 150-240) including a cannelloni stuffed with shrimps and spinach at B. 220. A similar number of meat choices follow, ranging from a roast pork with vegetables at B. 110, through many others up to an osso buco con piselli which features New Zealand beef and is then a little more highly priced at B. 360.

Finally there are the pizzas! (Could you imagine an Italian restaurant without pizza?) These range from B. 79 for the classic margherita through to B. 160 for the most expensive.

Finish with the desserts and sorbets and beverages including house red, white or rose at B. 65 per glass. You can also choose your own wine from the wine cellar and they will only add 10 percent on top of the shop price. Another bargain!

Sergio gave us many choices to try (too many, Sergio, I was full to overflowing) beginning with antipasti, and I found the deep fried mozzarella just delicious. We also tried the vegetarian pasta, which benefited from a liberal dose of the grated parmesan, presented in its own wooden topped container.

Pizza? Yes, we had a pizza, all thin and crispy in the correct Italian manner, and yes, I’ll have another next time too! Brilliant! We also tried the inexpensive roast pork, which was sensationally good, and the osso buco just fell apart, it was so tender.

Finally, we pigged out on lemon sorbet and grappa! A memorable evening, thank you Sergio.

Summing up, Buonissimo is Italian, run by an Italian and serves very good Italian food. Buonissimo in Italian means very good. Is it? Yes, Buonissimo is actually very, very good. Well worth a visit and won’t destroy your wallet. Highly recommended.

Buonissimo, La Trattoria del Sergio, 111/5 Moo 3, Chiangmai-Prao Road, Faham Muang, Chiang Mai, telephone 053 853 098-9, fax 053 849 744, email buonissimo [email protected], website www.buonissimo.co.th