Art is passion, and passion abounds in the Nimmanhaemin area of Chiang Mai. Capturing the spirit of this arts, culture and entertainment center is a unique retail area called Think Park. At the southwestern corner of Nimmanhaemin and Huaykaew, across from the Maya Lifestyle Mall, its small arts and handicrafts shops and street café-style restaurants, located in a labyrinth of cobblestoned and wooden pathways allows patrons to feel like they are entering into a different world. And one of those worlds belongs to Italy, where Italian Chef Robby produces his pizzas and pastas with passion.
Source: Google maps
The best part of the visit at this humble and homey shop was watching Chef Robby practice his art with meticulous care. From kneading the dough, to creating a fresh lasagna layer by layer, he obviously enjoyed creating authentic dishes and serving his customers. It’s a small operation, with just the chef and one industrious wait staff, with probably about 10 tables, and a limited size kitchen, so one will need a little patience during busy times—but the wait is worth the taste. We arrived on a Thursday evening, about 7 pm, and seated ourselves among about four other tables of guests, outside, with a front row view of the kitchen. The outside seating is in a courtyard area with some greenery and small artisan shops, giving it a cozy yet cosmopolitan feel.
We ordered a half liter of the house red wine for 300 baht; I’m afraid I didn’t ask for the brand or type, but it had the smooth but not overly sweet taste of chianti. The bruschetta Pomodoro starter that we ordered came out fairly quickly, with four thin crusts of toast topped with marinated tomatoes and garlic (120 baht). The taste was light and fresh, not too heavy on the garlic.
Next came the pizza calabrese (260 baht), with a thin and delicious crust covered with small salami slices, fresh tomato sauce and a good amount of cheese. The pizza was satisfying with a big enough portion to have about half left over for my favorite breakfast menu item!! The highlight of the food, though, was the handcrafted lasagna al forno, or as the menu proclaims, “the classic” (280 baht). The pasta and cheese layers were silky smooth, and the meat sauce (apparently a combination of ground beef and pork) was full of rich flavor.
The menu contains the basic Italian classics, at prices that are comparatively reasonable for non-Thai food choices in the area…and in fact, a bit cheaper than some of the other foreign food restaurants in this trendy area. When you’re in the mood for some authentic Italian food in Chiang Mai, I highly recommend Ciao Ciao Italia.