Da Mattia Restaurant
: By Brian Baxter
Classic Italian - and the best Tiramisu in town
One of the pleasures of having friends visiting is showing
off aspects of Chiang Mai - not least its range of eating
places that must be the envy of all other cities in the
Kingdom, excepting only the much larger capital. Two friends
were here for a longish stay and we set ourselves the
enviable task of finding somewhere to enjoy a good evening
meal, without repetition and with the accent mainly on Thai
food. About ten days in, a plaintive voice suggested
‘somewhere without chillies, please’. As any reader of this
column will know, my thoughts immediately headed towards
Italy and a few hours later we were seated in the
comfortable and friendly Da Mattia, which is presided over
by a chef-proprietor, and offers some of the most authentic
and best quality food to be found here.
We decided on wine with the meal, almost a prerequisite of
Italian dining, and were a little daunted by the prices so
we settled for a litre of the house red (480 baht) - quite
pleasant it is, too. What a pity that the tax on wine is so
ridiculously high and that mark-ups are also steep. The menu
itself is large and offers the usual range of pastas, pizzas
and classic starters and puddings, plus a good selection of
fish and meat dishes. A word of warning - portions are ultra
generous so consider sharing a first course to leave room
for a home made sweet. In the event, we indulged ourselves
and my fish salad, with a good quality dressing, came on a
vast platter - simple, perfect and fresh.
My friends went for baked green mussels and a plate of cold
cuts that were equally generously served and pronounced
For the main course, I went for risotto with cheeses, and
deliciously creamy and filling it proved. My companions went
for spaghetti carbonara and pizza (pasta dishes are around
180-200 baht). All were happy eaters.
What may only be called sheer greed tempted us to the
puddings and two of us chose a single scoop of ice cream,
pistachio and chocolate. The other choice was tiramisu and
this was declared the best any of us had tasted. Once again
the portion was large.
The chef hearing our groans of delight and pain (how often
those go together!) offered us a digestive and we settled
for a small grappa. I must mention that he had no idea that
the meal might feature in the Mail as I did not take notes
and the paper’s photographer was lighting up the town
elsewhere. The gesture seemed typical of the establishment,
with its attentive staff who speak good English.
The restaurant divides into two simple areas, an outside
courtyard and an inner area of similar size. Tables are well
spaced unlike traditional trattorias and all dishes are
cooked to order with many home made ingredients. On an
earlier visit a Thai friend and I were asked how we would
like our pasta cooked and found that Prosecco was served by
the glass as an excellent aperitif.
You will find Da Mattia in the first turning past the new
Shangri-La Hotel, on the left at the top of this attractive
soi which features many shops and places to eat. They close
on Sunday but are open for lunch and dinner throughout the
week. Our total bill with wine and service and an indulgent
meal came to 900 baht each. It would easily be possible to
eat well for half that with a little more restraint than
holiday makers normally exercise. Certainly I shall be
heading back there and will save room by sharing that sweet
Da Mattia: Chang Klan Road. Tel: 053 274 062.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Vietnamese spring rolls are always a favorite, as opposed to
the deep-fried Chinese style. The Vietnamese variety is easy to prepare, and all
ingredients can be found in Asian (super)markets.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Boil rice
vermicelli 3 to 5 minutes, or until al dente, and drain.
Fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip one wrapper into the warm water for 1
second to soften. Lay wrapper flat. In a row across the center, place two prawn
halves, a handful of vermicelli, basil, mint, coriander and lettuce, leaving
about 5 cm uncovered on each side. Fold uncovered sides inward, then tightly
roll the wrapper, beginning at the end with the lettuce. Repeat with remaining
In a small bowl, mix the fish sauce, water, lime juice, garlic, sugar and chili
sauce. In another small bowl, mix the hoisin sauce and peanuts. Serve spring
rolls with the fish sauce and hoisin sauce mixtures.
Rice wrappers (20 cm diameter)
Large cooked prawn, peeled, deveined
Thai basil chopped fresh
Mint leaves, chopped, fresh 3 tbspns
Coriander leaf, chopped, fresh 3 tbspns
Lettuce leaves, chopped
Garlic chili sauce
Peanuts, finely chopped
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