What better way to celebrate Pepenero’s fifth anniversary than for this bijou restaurant in Maenam to be awarded the highly coveted ‘Ospitalita Italiana’, an internationally renowned award recognising excellence and authenticity. This award presented by Sig. Francesco Pensato, honorary consul for southern Thailand, is a quality endorsement issued by the Italian government to Italian restaurateurs and their establishments all over the world that guarantees the respect of the typical standard of Italian hospitality.
Over the past five years Pepenero’s owner Paolo Migliorini and business partners, wife Camilla and executive chef Alain, have worked hard to create between them a little oasis of Italian culinary heaven here on Samui, and this accolade could not be more well deserved. Located on the ring road in Maenam, Pepenero is a quite delightful trattoria styled restaurant where the ambiance of a traditional Italian home just envelops you as soon you cross the threshold. The cosy ambiance, highlighted by carefully thought out rustic design features is a real pleasure on the eye. Add to that the most divine aromas of fresh herbs, garlic and various bubbling pots of authentic sauces floating out from the kitchen, and you could be forgiven for thinking that you were back in the old country.
When it comes to the food chef Alain’s talent for preparing simple, fresh ingredients and turning them into delicious homestyle Italian cuisine is truly a sight to behold, his passion for his craft shines through with each and every dish. I think I can quite honestly say that the Bruschetta Portofino, fine slices of lightly grilled, garlic rubbed homemade bread topped with sweet ripe tomatoes drizzled with golden Olive oil and Pesto is without doubt the best I have ever tasted. The careful balance of deep, long lasting flavours is Bruschetta at its finest and just one of several different variations of the classic recipe that are available on the menu.
We were then treated to two pasta dishes of exceptional quality. Linguine Al Ragu Di Mare, a seafood creation in a rich tomato sauce and Tagliatelle Duck Ragu in which slow braised duck had been shredded and blended with complementary fresh herbs in such a way as to enhance and emphasize the ensemble wonderfully. One of the signature dishes on the menu, a definite must try, is the Roasted Pork Pepenero consisting of tender slices of rolled, herbed Pork served simply on a bed of smooth and lightly creamed potatoes flavoured with aged Parmesan, just melted in the mouth. The White Snapper A La Ligure was a generous portion of oven roasted fish fillet, again just simply prepared in Olive oil and ripe Cherry Tomatoes, that flaked apart at the mere touch of a fork.
An impressive wine selection, many of which are on display on the beautifully designed wall of bottles in the restaurant, boasts over thirty different labels and around twenty different wines to choose from by the glass. If you are unsure of which particular wine to select to complement your dishes Paolo has an extensive and passionate knowledge of the subject and will be delighted to assist in your choice. The care and very real concern for his guests’ well being and comfort are primordial to Paolo’s hosting skills and come quite naturally to this effusive and charming owner.
We would like to offer our congratulations to Paolo and all his team at Pepenero for the work that they have put into this fabulous restaurant over the preceding five years and for receiving the recognition that they all so richly deserve. In Paolo’s own words, “ Pepenero’s goal is not to be an Italian restaurant abroad, but a real piece of Italy.”
This is Italy, pure and simple.
Neil CretneyStay updated with Samui Times by following us on Facebook.
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