Options for dining out on Koh Samui are far more sophisticated than you would expect on a small island in the Thai Gulf. Swaying palms and white sand beaches obviously appeal to quality chefs as much as they do to tourists and second home buyers. As a result, many of the island’s kitchens rival those in most cosmopolitan cities and the menu choices are so varied you could dine out every night for months without becoming jaded.
With such high standards, competition is understandably fierce, especially between restaurants that serve the island’s favourite fare, namely, Thai or Italian cuisine. The latter is so prolific on Samui now that it’s actually possible to find regional specialities, as well as the usual pasta and pizza crowd pleasers. This means opening a new Italian restaurant either requires absolute confidence, proven skills or total audacity.
Fortunately, Brio Wine Bar and Restaurant at the Samui Town Centre complex relies on the first of these qualities. The chef used to run the kitchen at one of Samui’s top Italian eateries, Prego, and the menu of fine Italian cuisine has already created a buzz that’s drawing people from around the island.
The contemporary, urban ambience at Brio may not be to everyone’s liking. It’s a long way from the beach and the decor resembles a restaurant in Bangkok more than one on Samui. But the plush furniture in creams and browns lends a sophisticated ambience and once you’re seated, presented with the extensive menu and served complimentary home-made focaccia bread, the need for tropical views soon fades.
A delightful selection of appetizers not only includes classic carpaccio, but also a special version of this popular dish with a truffle sauce that adds an irresistible richness to the flavours and bodes very well for the main courses. These feature a wide selection of pastas and a long and varied pizza menu with imported cheeses and meats from the home country.
Meanwhile, for those who favour meat or fish, there’s a succulent beef tenderloin, tender chicken breast filled with valdostana cheese or a a salmon fillet in a spicy sauce all served with fresh, locally sourced vegetables.
To wash down these well prepared Italian treats, Brio offers a good selection of New and Old world wines, including rich, full bodied reds from a well chosen cellar that includes French, Italian, Chilean, or South African vintage.
The desserts at Brio are equally irresistible. The tiramisu is an excellent blend of indulgences, as is the white chocolate souffle topped with Grand Marnier reduction. Rich Vittoria coffee adds the final touch and the staff are consistently attentive and friendly, without being obtrusive.
Brio is an excellent new choice on Samui for lovers of fine food in comfortable surroundings. It is also an appealing alternative to the long-established Italian favourites on the island.
FOOD and PRESENTATION 8
DÉCOR and AMBIENCE 8
Restaurant guide rating for ALL categories is out of 10:
Very Good 7-6
Our highest score is 10
For a restaurant to attain 10 points it would have to have maintained the score of 9 for at least 1 year.
Note: For restaurants that have been recommended by others but have not been rated yet I have put TBR (To Be Rated) against the name.
Open 11 am – 2 pm lunch (pizza and pasta). 5pm-10pm dinner. Samui Town Centre, Bophut. Tel 077 427591. www.briosamui.com