Phuket Town is a great place to dine, you can escape the tourist crowds and find some delicious authentic cuisine, be it local or international. Offering a different dining vibe, the city streets are calm in the evening with pockets of people enjoying fine food behind closed doors in chic eateries that are fun to seek out. A fine example of a hidden treasure is Salvatore's Restaurant on Rasada Road. The unobtrusive trattoria is a converted double shop house that serves a taste of Italy in a classy Mediterranean style setting.
The amiable owner is Salvatore Cossu, a Sardinian with a jovial Italian accent and excellent culinary skills who is also a gracious host. Salvatore spent four years at cookery school in Switzerland and opened successful restaurants in Holland and his home Sardinia, before heading east. After spending his holidays in Thailand he decided to take the plunge and move to Phuket some 23 years ago. Over the years he has opened four restaurants in Patong, but has now found a place to lay his hat and call home in Phuket Town.
With his original team of chefs that joined him 23 years ago, Salvatore has fine tuned his menu and created a warm and friendly family restaurant popular with Thais, tourists and long stay expats, ensuring a steady stream of customers all year round. I visited on a weekday afternoon, which admittedly was quiet, which I attribute to the difficulty in parking, but don't be put off because in the evenings it is much easier to find a space nearby.
Salvatore has added his personal style and flare to the interiors as well as the menu, as he admits the décor is his own unique design. The colourful walls are bright and welcoming, and fitting for a casual and cosy trattoria. There are ornate pillars and archways adorning the walls as well as a whole range of decorative plates from Italy. The large eye catching paintings are produced by several different artists including Salvatore's own daughter.
Salvatore's aim is to bring pleasure to dining and create a restaurant with a comfortable and relaxed ambiance: "We should eat for pleasure and get together with family and friends to enjoy a good atmosphere at meal times" he said. This dining ethos has similarities with Thai culture, which is perhaps why Salvatore's has such a strong following from the local community.
The menu has classic dishes from Sardinia and each region of Italy with a good range of fish, seafood, meat, homemade pastas and desserts, proving that Salvatore's is much more than a pizzeria. The main focus is the fresh and authentic ingredients, many of which are not available in Thailand and are specially sourced and imported by Salvatore himself from all over the world.
"I buy the best sole fish and oysters from France, fresh lobster arrives live from Canada each week, the steak is imported from Australia and many ingredients are from Italy and Sardinia such as bottarga and sea urchins," said Salvatore. On my visit I sampled three dishes, the crab gratin, spinach and ricotta ravioli and foie gras, served with bruschetta and finished off with chocolate mousse. The dishes were excellent, my favourite was the crab gratin which had a delicious crust of baked cheese covering the soft velvety sauce and crab meat.
The foie gras was served with apple, which complemented the flavour and smooth texture of the duck's liver well. The ravioli was made with fresh pasta with a creamy sauce that was very moorish. The chocolate mousse was divine and so chocolaty, I had no problem finishing every last spoonful. The menu prices range from THB 500 to THB 1,200 per meal, which will probably deter the average Thai family and budget backpackers, but the quality of food is unquestionable.
Salvatore's is more popular in the evenings than lunchtime and to overcome the lack of day time trade, the owner is considering renovation next year to the pizzeria half of the restaurant, which is currently used occasionally for private parties. The renovation will bring a new evening dining option to town with a reasonably priced set menu that will include good quality wine. I won't give away all the details, but will be sure to update readers when the changes are in place. In the mean time, give Salvatore's fine Italian fare a try next time you are in town.
|Opening hours:||12.00pm - 2.30pm
6.00pm - 11.00pm
Polpa di granchio gratinato
Crab meat gratin
Ravioli di ricotta e spinaci ai tre formaggi
Homemade ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach in three cheeses sauce
Fegato d'oca all'aceto balsamico (Foie Gras)
Pan-fried goose liver with balsamic vinegar sauce served with apple and green leaves salad
Bruschetta al pomodoro
Home baked focaccia bread bruschetta with fresh tomatoes
Made with Lindt chocolate
15 Rasada Road, Tambol Taladyai, Phuket Town, Phuket 83000