Ticino provides Summer Delights

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I will start this review by admitting that Ticino is one of the Dining Out team’s favorite restaurants, partly through the excellent fare, partly through very reasonable pricing and partly through the personality of the “capo” Peter Faessler, a professional restaurateur from Switzerland (who has some secret desire for Vespa motor scooters).

Beautiful snow fish.
Beautiful snow fish.

Ticino is on the “Dark Side” and you turn off Nerm Plub Wan signposted to Tara Pattana and Uraiwan Grand Villas, then take Soi 1 on your left and follow it up and around, past Uraiwan (on the right) until a fork in the road, where you take the well sign-posted fork to the right, and Ticino is 100 meters along on the left. There are also the GPS coordinates if you have a smart phone. (I do, but it is smarter than me and I can’t find maps, let alone coordinates.)

As you enter the restaurant you are assailed with a row of Vespas and a lone Motobecane. On the right is a sit-up bar, aptly named the Vespa Bar, or straight on and into the gazebos dotted around. The gardens have hanging multicolored lights to illuminate the garden settings. Large decorative “structures” break the symmetry and I decided last time we dined there that these were Italian garden gnomes on steroids, however, there is a great deal of privacy offered by the natural plant forms.

Grannie’s secret recipe lamb.
Grannie’s secret recipe lamb.

The menu choices are numerous, so we sipped on a glass of wine while perusing the menu. Wines are generally in the B. 1270-1380 range, so not over the top, and Ticino has some interesting labels in their cellar.

Knowing Peter Faessler’s discerning taste in wines, I followed his recommendation of the cherry-red house wine being a hand-picked Montepulciano d’Abruzzo D.O.C. Made of 100 percent Montepulciano grapes (i.e. no usual blend with 15 percent-20 percent of Sangiovese), vintage 2012 with 13.5 percent ABV it results in its ruby red color, its intense and persistent yet smooth fragrance.

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It originates in the Cittเ di Orvieto (in the region of Umbria, central Italy on its west coast, halfway between Rome and Florence), some 300 meters above sea level on volcanic, pebble-rich soil. Arguably costlier than the five liter offerings of Mont Clair or Peter Vela, the 0.7 liter bottle is B. 1220, or B. 280 per red wine glass.

This hearty Montepulciano, given a moment to breathe, and according to Peter, reveals lovely whiffs of black olives, blackberries and the sweetness of vanilla. It’s slightly Asian spiciness and dense gritty tannins are a perfect match for red meats and aged cheese. That’s the reason why he serves it in various sized carafes – give it air to breathe and it just doubles the joy.

The new Summer Delights offer includes home smoked salmon with selected savories and garlic bread. You then can either go on with seafood being sizzled shrimps with asparagus and a bouquet of Mediterranean garden delights. Alternatively a slow-simmered hearty lamb stew with grilled egg plants and potato. And the sweet finish is a home made raspberry cheesecake. Taking everything as a set is B. 690.

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I chose the lamb stew; cooked strictly according to Grannie’s recipe secrets in the kitchen. It was superb, whilst Madame plumped for the snow fish, and found it excellent. According to Peter, the Thai lamb was never in the race and, while the whole world thinks the Kiwi lamb is the best, he personally found the Australian free-range lamb being tastier, “meatier”, juicier and leaner (less fat).

If you haven’t been before, then do go! Ticino is probably the most underestimated restaurant in Pattaya. One reason has been the fact that it is situated on the outskirts of the Dark Side, and up till now has been difficult to find (two days with pack horse and cut lunch!). With everybody owning a smart phone these days, the co-ordinates will get you there GPS N 12.9180 E 00.9334, or by map readings, just go to the website (http://www.ticino.co.th ); email [email protected].  Open 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. six days (closed Tuesdays). Off-street car parking. Close to Swiss Paradise, telephone 084 676 7376 if you get lost. (I lied about the pack horse and cut lunch!)