Pan Pan has every right to be classified as the ultimate Pattaya survivor. The popular Thappraya Road base was opened by Luciano in 1989 when green fields were everywhere and hi-rise condos nowhere. Initially, there was a large car parking area out front which vanished as Pattaya city authorities built the main road linking Pattaya and Jomtien. Always with a shrewd eye on the future, Luciano built a new car park at the rear and added a glass canopy extension which resembles in minor form The Winter Gardens in the UK’s holiday resort of Blackpool. Yet the profile of the original building still remains intact.
Like most cuisines, Italian dishes mirror The Boot’s rich political and geographic diversity which is captured in Pan Pan’s lengthy and tantalizing menu. Mediterranean influences bring fish and olives into culinary creations, whilst various types of pasta hail from southern Italy and exquisite desserts such as tiramisu find origins in the north. Whether you are in search of an unforgettable plate of pasta or a fresh platter of seafood or a crispy-base pizza, even a tender lamb shank, the choices run to well over 150 items.
Pattaya, of course, is home to many Italian eateries: well over 100 at the last count although not all have survived the pandemic. They range from market stalls, red sauce cafes and fast food joints to a handful of tip-top restaurants. Pan Pan, which has additional branches in Ban Amphur and Terminal 21, can best be described as a classy neighborhood restaurant since it is run as a family concern with some of the staff having been on the payroll for decades. Apart from the dining area, there is an adjoining snackery for proper coffee, home-made cakes and naturally ice cream. The British call it afternoon tea.
Ah yes the desserts! If Pan Pan is to be famous for one element, that’s got to be the cold cabinet and freezer for the finest selection of the richest sweets in the entire city. Until you have tasted Torta Capri (old recipe Capri-style chocolate cake) or Tartufo (rich chocolate ball stuffed with ice cream, whipped cream and Kahlua liqueur) you haven’t experienced the true nature of sin. But if you are on a diet, there’s a very passable sugar-free chocolate sherbet or an Amarena cherry yoghurt.
Pan Pan’s client base is obviously a mixture of nationalities. There’s a high proportion of loyal Thai diners, especially at weekends, many of whom date back to the 1970s and 1980s when Luciano ran food outlets in Bangkok: his very first being a small kiosk in the Asoke district of the metropolis. It’s noteworthy that many of the Pan Pan reviews on the internet are written in Thai. But the new and returning customers on a typical evening come from every continent. As the Egon Ronay guide once said, “If you can detect the sound of several languages in a restaurant, that’s the place to head for.” Carry on Pan Pan.