Dining Out Pulcinella da Stefano

The Dining Out team recently visited an old friend, Pulcinella da Stefano, one of Chiang Mai’s established Italian restaurants. The restaurant has been in its present location near Thapae Gate for about 10 years, and hungry diners are always delighted to discover it. Chef Sebastiano Berardi joined the restaurant about three years ago. A native of the Lake Como region in Italy, he brought some of his favorite recipes with him. We were delighted to meet him and sample his food, and to talk about Italian food in general.

The menu is quite large, and several set menu options are offered. These are well priced at 190 to 370 baht for a dinner that includes appetizer, main course, dessert and special coffee. We began our meal with a classic bruschetta, homemade garlic bread served with sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Like many simple dishes, bruschetta depends on excellent ingredients. The most difficult ingredient to find in Thailand, interestingly, is an intensely flavored Mediterranean tomato. Chef Berardi bakes his own crusty Italian bread and makes many of the cheeses that are served in the restaurant. And he has found good tomatoes. The tomatoes and cheese are served attractively arranged on the plate with a sprinkling of minced herbs and fresh basil leaves. The bread is served separately. This appetizer is priced at 50 baht.
We followed the bruschetta with another favorite, carpaccio di tonno, tuna carpaccio. This is another dish that requires the freshest and finest of ingredients. Chef Berardi marinates fresh yellow fin tuna in lemon and olive oil, and then slices it thinly. It is served with finely minced fresh herbs, and is a truly delicious dish. It is so delicious in fact that Gina and her dinner partner left not a single scrap on the plate, and unblushingly mopped up every drop of the fine olive oil with their bread. This dish is priced at 190 baht, and is highly recommended. The restaurant also offers carpaccio di carne, imported beef carpaccio, at 190 baht. Other appetizers include focaccia with the option of several toppings, salad, cheeses, cold cuts and stuffed mushrooms. Appetizers are priced from 35 to 260 baht.

The pasta menu includes vegetarian, seafood and meat selections. We chose homemade gnocchi with fresh asparagus served in an asparagus cream sauce and topped with ricotta cheese. These wonderful little dumplings are made with a potato base and shaped to hold the sauce, which is creamy and rich. This dish is also highly recommended. The restaurant offers a variety of pastas, vegetables and sauces in its vegetarian selections. The vegetarian lasagna, an old favorite, is unfailingly delicious. An outstanding meat lasagna is also on the menu, as is spaghetti alla carbonara, spaghetti with bacon and egg. Pasta dishes with seafood include mixed seafood in tomato sauce and a variety of other seafood dishes. The pastas at Pulcinella are homemade, and the taste and texture of each confirms that. Pasta dishes are priced from 110 baht.
The risotto at Pulcinella is creamy and nice, and again both vegetarian and meat dishes are offered. Prices begin at 150 baht for the vegetarian risotto. Gina’s personal favorite is the Italian sausage risotto, again a simple dish dependent on excellent ingredients.
The large menu at Pulcinella includes many meat, seafood and other dishes as well as pizza. The osso buco at 280 baht is a classic, and like all good osso bucos, it has a rich and tangy deep flavor. Another interesting dish is the duck breast with Balsamic vinegar and blueberry sauce that is priced at 240 baht. Seafood dishes are also varied. The restaurant offers New Zealand mussels in herb butter at 180 baht, rainbow trout with sage butter at 260 baht and a variety of other seafood dishes.
We wisely ended our meal with panna cotta, priced at 60 baht for a perfect – and delicious – serving. The tiramisu at 60 baht is also excellent. Coffees and teas, fruit drinks, soft drinks, wines, beers and spirits are available.
Pulcinella da Stefano, 2/1-2 Chiang Mai Kao Road, Muang, Chiang Mai 50300, telephone and fax 053-874-189. Open daily at noon. Paid parking is available at the nearby Amora Rydges Hotel.