Gianni De Burchio:
by Mark Whitman
Quality and originality at an Italian Restaurant
We all – I guess – have our small snobberies and prejudices
and this excellent restaurant nearly became a victim of one
of mine. I had often parked directly next to it at Somptech
Gold Place since I use the travel agent at the back of the
square and occasionally call in at the TAT offices there. It
looked immaculately clean with its crisp white tablecloths
and almost regimented seating but somehow the location put
No friend had said, ‘you must try…’ and there seemed a lack
of something ‘extra’ in the building and the surrounds.
Somehow I did not get round to trying it. My mistake as I
found when I did eventually go there with two friends last
month and again a couple of weeks later. It is a real find
and the owner–chef runs a highly professional kitchen,
sourcing his main ingredients from his native Italy and
ensuring that their quality is high.
Gianni de Burchio has entered a difficult market, since
there are countless Italian restaurants in Chiang Mai and
many of them offer good food. Happily this place can compete
with the best of them, offering a very comprehensive menu
allowing one to eat either cheaply or at the high end of the
market depending upon mood and budget.
For example there is a special buffet on Wednesday evenings
at just 149 baht, a choice of pasta with a beer at a similar
price throughout the week or a large basic pizza and a soft
drink at just 130 baht. Alternatively there are many ‘up
market’ choices and fine wines on offer. But the house wine
at just 350 baht a liter represents the best value I know.
The Chardonnay is o.k. but the red is quite exceptional for
the price. The ice cream is the best I have tasted in Chiang
Mai but there are only two flavors on offer and it is 70
baht a scoop. At this restaurant you can certainly make
choices to suit yourself.
You might be tempted by the Fiori di pomodoro di bufala and
pay 200 baht, but at least you will know that the Mozarella
is the real thing. Whatever you order make sure that you do
so carefully because if I have one criticism of the
restaurant it is the slightly chaotic service, which, though
very charming and attentive, can lead to confusion.
Any Italian restaurant stands or falls on the quality of its
pasta: staple fare but still something which can rise to
sublime heights. A friend on one occasion chose the ravioli
with black truffles and declared it was as good as any he
had tasted. On a second visit he was offered half portions
of the two variations of this dish – heaven in black and
I opted for the spaghetti piccanta on my first visit and the
pasta was perfectly al dente with a really rich and ‘rustic’
sauce, a style I prefer, with a thick and earthy texture.
Just short of the spiciness I would have anticipated (and
made myself) but thoroughly ‘moreish’. On another visit I
went for the scallops, lightly cooked and finished off with
a dash of brandy and served with a simple salad. Again,
first class. It is difficult to suggest a price level since
the large menu covers so many choices and for example some
pizzas and pastas are quite expensive because of the topping
or sauces. Allow anything from 150 baht a head to a thousand
plus with a full scale meal and wine. Prices are clearly
marked and there is no plus plus to worry about.
For starters there are most of the classic dishes which seem
simple to prepare: tonno con fagioli or a plate of very
thinly sliced tuna or salads and soups. They are, as we
know, also easy to mess up if the ingredients are not up to
standard or the dressings are poor. No problem here. For the
pudding we were urged to try the tiramisu and this was
shared by friends so I tasted only a little of it. As good
as that in Da Mattia and possibly Favola: no higher
compliment that that in Chiang Mai. As for the ice cream,
well the chocolate may have the edge over the vanilla, but
it is hard decision. A little expensive but if you are
feeling flush try both.
Plenty of bread and other tempting side orders with dips are
offered on arrival and local mineral water is readily
available alongside a large drinks menu at sensible prices.
The coffee has had good reports from friends too. So, all in
all, this is a new addition to my list of regular places to
visit. I still don’t find the location that appealing,
especially late in the evening but if you finish eating
before 11p.m. then that is fine. The restaurant opens very
late on some evenings to accommodate a bar which opens in
the square. But if you are a ‘dinner at eight’ type person,
then no hassle. You will find Gianni de Burchio at Somptech
Gold Place, which faces the Somphet Market. It faces the
moat and is directly opposite the wooden foot bridge just a
few hundred metres along from Tha Pae Gate. They are open
from 11.00 in the morning for lunch and very late on Friday,
Saturday and Sunday. Telephone: 053 234 003.
Khrong Moo Sam Rot
(Sweet Sour and Salty Spareribs)
Spareribs are a favorite in most cuisines and can be done in
many ways. However, spareribs are also seen in Thai cuisine, with one of the
main differences being more in the size of the ribs, with the Thai preference
being for much shorter pieces, than say in the Cajun varieties. This recipe
gives you an alternative to try one weekend, and you can leave the ribs at
‘western’ lengths if you wish. All supermarkets have spareribs so you don’t even
need to chop them yourself.
Ingredients serves 4-6
Spareribs 1 kg
Flour 3 tbspns
Salt 2 tspns
Pepper 1 tspn
Pineapple juice ½ cup
Light soy sauce 1 tbspn
Brown sugar 1 tbspn
Vinegar 2 tbspns
Pineapple chunks bite-size 10
Chop spareribs into 5 cm
lengths. Mix the flour, salt, and pepper and roll the ribs in the
flour mixture then fry until golden brown, and drain.
Place spareribs in a pot with the pineapple juice, vinegar, sugar,
and light soy sauce and cook over low heat until the spareribs are
done, stirring to prevent sticking.
Place the spareribs on a platter with pineapple chunks and serve