Samui Wining & Dining
TRANSFORMERS
A favourite Italian restaurant, Prego, gets a complete makeover.

A favourite Italian restaurant, Prego, gets a complete makeover.In 2003, a top-notch Italian chef, Marco Boscaini, came to Samui and helped set up one of the island’s first Italian restaurants, the simply named Prego. Given his passion and dedication, people knew it would be successful, but they had no idea to what degree. In its first nights it exceeded expectations, and very soon became one of the first restaurants on Samui to raise the culinary flag for quality Italian dining. Prego’s success has continued ever since, and the restaurant has made a name for itself as an excellent place to eat, drink and enjoy all things Italian.

          

Recently however, it closed its doors. Not because it had fallen out of fashion or favour. If its lights went dark, it was only because after a dozen years in operation, it was being given a total makeover.

          

And total means precisely that. Everything changed. Marco and the Prego team have transformed the lot. From floor to ceiling, the entire restaurant has been redone. Its tables, seats, colours have all been changed, as well as all the plates and cutlery – right down to the tiniest teaspoon for espresso. It’s still in the same place, opposite Amari Koh Samui on Chaweng’s beach road, in the northern part of town. Opening hours are incidentally slightly changed - from midday to midnight, daily.

It’s decidedly bigger and better. There’s a nice bar and lounge facing the road, and as a new part of the dining room, an air-conditioned section for those nights when the temperature soars. All other areas are agreeably cooled by fans, A favourite Italian restaurant, Prego, gets a complete makeover.and the entire restaurant is open to the breezes. The kitchen has also been totally changed, and is now in a new area, with all the equipment having been especially imported from Italy.

          

Marco is still at the helm. He’s still cooking the same types of dishes that his diners love so much, and you’ll find all the favourites have been kept, while other dishes have been fine-tuned. And naturally there are plenty of new ones that have been added. The staff continue to be extremely welcoming, and offer top-notch service throughout the meal. They are discreetly on hand should you need them, and they’re very skilled at anticipating your wants and needs.

          

Prego has improved itself across the board in one massive step. And now it’s opened its doors again, you’d expect the trumpets to come out for the occasion, with some sort of fanfare. But it’s been a quiet affair, and Prego has let its diners judge for themselves. The feedback is all good. People like what they see. The restaurant is sophisticated and its atmosphere is, as ever, extremely cosy and relaxing. You can bring your family or hang out here with friends. You’ll find it a very convivial place – after all this is a restaurant that’s Italian and definitely carries the laid-back cachet of the entire Mediterranean.

          

The menu is extensive and covers everything you’d hope to find in an Italian restaurant. The fact that this one is far from home gives it even more kudos. Expect the best imported meats and foodstuffs, though wherever possible chef Marco relies on home-grown products, especially the vegetables and spices.

          

But start off with a drink, perhaps one of the unique cocktails here, that Prego had a mixologist invent. Try the Bumblebee Bruiser, a creation that sounds enigmatic but which is definitely on the ‘I’d-like-another-one’ list, or the Pomelo Caipirina, all Latin charm and Asian indulgence. A favourite Italian restaurant, Prego, gets a complete makeover.There’s a range of traditional cocktails, too, of course.

          

The menu itself starts with antipasti and various salads and it’s hard to give particular recommendations as the list is exquisite. But try the burrata cheese on marinated tomato, for a savoury taste, or the Insalata Mediterranea with the sheer green of its lettuce, combined with artichoke, olives and topped with mozzarella. There’s also a delightful Salsiccia in Insalata comprised of grilled Italian sausage with fresh rocket, dried tomatoes and pinenuts. You’ll also love the Cippino, a chunky fresh seafood soup with tomato, white wine and herbs.

          

Next on the menu, you’ll find a select range of pasta and risotto, including Marco’s own Lasagna Bolognese. He also makes an excellent hand-rolled type of pasta, simply called ‘pici’, which you can enjoy with a Chianti wine beef ragout. A slightly richer dish would be his Saffron Pappardelle, with a ragout of roast lamb and porcini mushrooms. Dishes like these are hard to resist. There’s more lamb on the menu with an oven baked rack, along with fresh herbs,A favourite Italian restaurant, Prego, gets a complete makeover. pecorino polenta and a vegetable caponata. Fish comes in the form of a grilled seafood platter with authentic Mediterranean tastes, or pan-roasted sea bass fillet. You can also have baked salmon or lobster, which comes with garlic chilli linguine and parmesan basket.

          

If you’re not in the mood for mains such as these, you’ll love the pizzas, which you can order either small or large. There’s an entire array of these, including the folded variety, known as ‘calzone’. Be adventurous and build your own out of a host of ingredients with sauces, meats, seafood, vegetables and no less than seven different cheeses, all imported from Italy.

          

No feast at Prego can be considered at an end if you haven’t ordered one of the remarkably good desserts. Try Marco’s very own tiramisu or the deliciously orange-flavoured Panna Cotta, just to mention a couple of options.

          

With its flexible menu that oozes a love of Italian food, everyone who comes to Prego will find something to enjoy. The dishes are the creations of a maestro, and exude the traditional much-loved tastes of his home country. And with the re-opening of the restaurant, Prego looks set to head for further culinary heights.

          

Dimitri Waring

 

 


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