La Ristorante Bella Italia

Don’t even think about trying to find La Ristorante Bella Italia without this newspaper in your hand. It’s definitely not on the beaten path. But if you’re willing to go in search of it, you will be rewarded with delicious pasta at a very reasonable price.

For all the Magellans out there, from the intersection of Kampaeng Din and Sri Dornchai, proceed south on Kampaeng Din. If you’re going in the correct direction, you will pass the exit to Suriwong Book Centre’s parking lot on your right. Turn right at Ragang. There is, of course, no street sign, but there is a small sign on the post in green, yellow and red advertising Tony’s Pub. Don’t get confused. Just follow that sign. You will see La Ristorante Bella Italia at the corner of Ragang Soi 3 on the left side of the street.

Now that you’ve arrived safely, you have a problem. The menu is huge, and the choices are many. So order a glass of wine at 70 baht, or a beer at 50 baht and up, and take your time choosing your dinner. Franco and Roberto also serve a variety of coffees and soft drinks, starting at 20 baht. The Dining Out team sampled three pastas and a second course. And, of course, we sampled two delicious desserts. We did not go away hungry, but we did leave happy.

There are several nice things you should know about La Bella Italia. First of all, the food is very, very well priced. Pasta dishes begin at 30 baht and meat dishes begin at 60 baht. Which brings me to another nice thing; most pasta dishes come in two sizes, medium and large. There is also a special menu section entitled “Traditional Italian Dishes”. These must be ordered one day in advance, and are made fresh at your request. They are dishes that require long cooking or preparation time, and may often be prepared and frozen elsewhere. Franco and Roberto assured us that dinner at Bella Italia would never include a dish that has been frozen. So order lasagna or osso buco or suppa di pesce ahead of time and enjoy, enjoy! There are also interesting notations throughout the menu. “We will be glad to tell you about the ingredients used and explain the cooking process,” means exactly that. It’s “transparency” in the business world, but unusual in the competitive world of restaurants. You can also request your favorite Italian dishes or provide your favorite Italian recipes, and you are invited to participate in the development of the wine list.

Plates of spaghetti Bolognese, penne with pesto sauce and spaghetti with an Italian sausage cream sauce were placed before us. A basket of assorted bread arrived. The Bolognese sauce was a classic, although far lighter than many we have tasted with the same name. Flavorful and spiced just right, there was no discussion. It was simply delicious. The pesto was freshly made with local basil and garlic ground with pine nuts and olive oil. I know pesto aficionados who would enjoy this dish daily. It was straightforward and, although served with pasta the day of our visit, would be excellent on a variety of dishes. I must confess that I love Italian cream sauces, and the Italian sausage cream sauce served on homemade spaghetti was a favorite. The sausage is also homemade, and the spices are a delightful blend. This is a flavorful sausage but not highly spiced. Our second course was grilled Italian sausage served with a variety of fresh local vegetables. This was a delightful course, priced at 65 baht, filling and tasty.

Of course, no Italian meal is complete without panna cotta or tiramisu and we sampled both. Priced at 50 and 65 baht respectively, they were delicious and satisfying. La Bella Italia also offers fried ice cream, gelato fritto, and plain ice cream. Gelato fritto is priced at 30 baht per scoop and plain gelato is priced at 15 baht per scoop.

We will definitely return to La Ristorante Bella Italia. Grazie to Franco and Roberto.

La Ristorante Bella Italia, 98/1 Ragang Road, T. Hayya, Muang, Chiang Mai, 50200. Telephone 09-851-7607 or 04-614-2783. Open daily except Sunday. Parking on the street.