Samui Wining & Dining
Chic yet solidly Italian, Coco Tam’s X Peppina is pulling in the crowds at Fisherman’s Village.

Chic yet solidly Italian, Coco Tam’s X Peppina is pulling in the crowds at Fisherman’s Village.Guests are flocking with great enthusiasm to a stylish yet affordable restaurant set on the beach road in front of The Wharf in Fisherman’s Village. It’s unmissable, thanks to its chic design, but it’s not just the structure that wows, it’s the food and drink too, all of it served up in an extremely relaxed setting. Coco Tam’s X Peppina is a combination that works, and the meld is exactly right; you’d have to go a long way to find something similar.


If you’re coming by car, then park for free at The Wharf and simply walk up to the beach. The only real difficulty is deciding where to sit. Unlike most restaurants on Samui, there are two floors to choose between. Let’s start with the downstairs part. This is a proper full-scale dining room, but it’s totally open-sided, ideal for the tropics. Even more so as it opens out quite dramatically over the beach. In fact, if you like you can eat directly on the beach itself, just a few steps away from the water. Just choose one of the dining tables placed on the sand. Another very popular option is to sit at the counter that runs almost the entire length of the restaurant and which also directly fronts the beach.


The view from the upper level is just as amazing, and you can see not just the ocean, but also what’s going on in the street below. Not only are there no walls up here, there’s no ceiling either, making everything open air. However, if the weather’s bad, a canvas roof neatly slides into place. Guests sit on comfy chairs and enjoy the lounge-like atmosphere here. It’s also a place to stage parties and events of all kinds; it’s exactly right for this as it’s quite separate from the downstairs area and is accessible via a private staircase.


Most of the time though, guests come up here to relax and enjoy drinks while gazing out to sea. You can, if you want, enjoy the same fare as downstairs, so if you prefer to eat up here, just make your wishes known to the staff. They’re here to help and are very welcoming.Private Escape Samui offers brilliant days out on the water.


But no matter where you sit, as the evening takes over from the day, you can enjoy the usually spectacular sunsets. Then, as darkness falls things get even more laid back. There’s a range of beers, wines and cocktails to be had. Enjoy them too at the small thatched beach bar adjacent to the restaurant.


The food is authentic Italian, and nothing but. Many of the ingredients are imported directly from Italy as you won’t find them in Thailand. For example, if you start with the enticing and moreish cold cuts and Italian cheese (don’t order it if eating alone, however, as it’s on the large side) you’ll find a selection that’s stepped directly out of its home country,along with house pâté, olives and anchovies. Likewise, they use only the finest seasonal toppings for the pizzas, which remain true to the exacting standards of Neapolitan cuisine – think hand-rolled dough that’s allowed to naturally ferment for at least 24 hours. The kitchen is open-plan, so you can watch your pizza being quickly fired in the utterly efficient pizza oven, which also hails from Naples. Choose between the signature Coco Tam’s with San Marzano tomatoes, crudo ham, Italian basil and burrata, or the 417,Private Escape Samui offers brilliant days out on the water. a delightful mix of spicy salami, red peppers, capers, anchovies, olives and garlic. Plenty of spaghetti and pasta also graces the menu, and you can enjoy dishes like linguini with crab sauce or pasta with ragout of pork cheek.


The restaurant excels in grilled meats, and offers a great selection; the chef and his team believe in drizzling meats with premium olive oil, and then rubbing them with salt, pepper and a medley of herbs. Lamb rack, grilled pork ribs and the pollo baby chicken are all great choices here. Finish off with one of the great Italian desserts – choose between chocolate lava cake, tioarta caprese or panna cotta.


The atmosphere is very laid-back, and in the evening there’s soft lighting thanks to candles on the beach. In addition, guests are wowed by a nightly fire show from 9.30 pm each night, and a live DJ every Monday and Friday evening.


Coco Tam’s X Peppina is open daily from midday until 1:00 am, with last food orders at 11:30 pm. It’s not really necessary to make a reservation as there’s so much space – simply drop by, which is what everyone seems to do. It’s definitely worth heading here for dining that won’t break the bank, and yet is always delectable and Italian to the core.


Dimitri Waring


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