Don Joe expands

by Miss Terry Diner

The authentic Italian restaurant on the ocean side of Walking Street has been a favorite of the Dining Out team for many years. Called Don Joe, after the energetic owner Joe Parlati, who comes from Verona (just ask him), it has recently undergone not just a refurbishment, but a total make-over. Having taken over the premises next door, Joe has expanded to include a coffee and ice cream parlor, a pasta making station, a new stone oven for the pizzas, a new temperature controlled wine cellar (with Italian wines, naturally) and a total renovation of the air-conditioned indoor dining areas and a brightening up of the outdoor sea view terrace. As I mentioned, a total make-over. However, don’t fret, Don Joe’s happy smiling waitresses in the white shirts and caps are all still there.
For those who are unsure of the location, Don Joe is at the southern end of Walking Street (almost opposite Tony’s Nightclub) about 50 meters past the Marine Bar, heading towards Nang Nual, the Siam Bayshore hotel and the Bali Hai pier.
The range of dishes in the menu has also been enlarged with now a greater selection of pastas, prepared as you watch. There is also a rotating daily specials menu, and as Joe said, “We try to keep the prices down.”
The antipasti range in price between B. 60 for the traditional Bruschetta to B. 450 if you want a plate of assorted Italian cheeses (some of which will come from Verona), or you can even serve yourself from the central buffet for B. 150.
There are 14 pasta dishes covering regatoni, lasagna, penne, tortelloni, tortelli, fettuccine, spaghetti and gnocchi, with the majority around B. 200.
Next up are 16 meat dishes (B. 250-450) and 14 seafood dishes (B. 200-500) and then 14 pizzas (B. 180-300) and a limited selection of Thai favorites, but that is almost blasphemy in such an Italian stronghold! And yes, there is a selection of Italian desserts.
Wines are generally around B. 1,500, but 1 liter carafes of house wine are only B. 600. Joe can explain and expand on all his wines (which will all come from Italy, as there is nowhere else, according to Joe).
The menu may be extensive, but the best way to eat at Don Joe is to ask Joe for his suggestions. He and new manager Michele then put their heads together and in our case we began with antipasti which, as well as the usual hams and salami, had very large pickled onions stuffed with tuna. Magnifico!
We then had another sampler of the culinary treats in Don Joe’s, including green olives stuffed with hazelnut and large sweet chilli stuffed with cheese. At this stage we were feeling more than slightly stuffed too and Joe suggested it was time for a Monte Ceriani Soave 2006. The vineyard is “nearly in Verona” said Joe, but no matter where the grapes were grown, this was a very nice wine.
The next dish was a bright red Canadian lobster with pimentos and pasta (made on site of course). There is no getting away from the fact that seafood from cold waters is more tasty than that from tropical seas.
We followed the lobster with some sample meat dishes with a very tender beef fillet grilled with balsamico and a pork fillet in wine sauce with porcini mushrooms and Brussels sprouts.
The food was excellent, and the presentation and service likewise. We finished with a Limoncello (lemon grappa), which just has to be the best way to finish an Italian meal.
We have known and dined with Joe Parlati over many years. The food continues to be some of the best Italian cuisine in town and the latest expansion seems to have breathed new life into the restaurant. Michele is continuing the Don’s tradition in the kitchen, while Joe continues his tradition as a wonderful host. Great food, great location and a great evening is assured. As Joe said, “You’re not a going to a restaurant, you’re a coming home.” Very highly recommended.
Don Joe, Ristorante Italiano, 112/2 Moo 10, Walking Street, South Pattaya, telephone 038 710 733, open 4 p.m. until midnight low season (opening earlier high season).

Thod Mun Gai (deep fried chicken cakes)

This is an interesting variation on the more usual fish cakes (Thod Mun Pla). Like its fish counterpart, it is important not to overcook, as the final dish can get rubbery in texture. It is also important to drain the chicken cakes well as otherwise they can be unacceptably oily.

Cooking Method:
In a bowl combine the minced chicken with the pounded coriander, garlic and pepper. Now add the egg and knead thoroughly. Add 100 gm of bread crumbs and continue mixing. Now add the salt, sugar and fish sauce and continue to mix well.
Shape into balls and then roll in the remaining breadcrumbs until they all have an even coating.
In a deep frying pan heat the oil over a medium heat. Slightly flatten the chicken balls and deep fry quickly until golden brown. Remove and drain well over paper towels.
Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce.

Ingredients                 Serves 2-4
Minced chicken                 200 gm
Bread crumbs                   200 gm
Pounded coriander root, garlic
and pepper                      1 tspn
Egg                                1
Vegetable oil                    3 cups
Salt                               1 tspn
Fish sauce                    1 tbspn
Sugar                            1 tspn