We think it is charming at first sight. A white picket gate invites us to enter a small, candlelit courtyard featuring a jaunty red umbrella and some low, comfy-looking chairs. The house, made of wood and glass, is subtly lit to highlight glimpses of the treasures within.
The Receptionist is a black cat who sits on the stairs whisking its tail to jazzy blues as Nanti Leoni arrives like a whirlwind to show us around. We are soon joined by her husband Marco, apron-wrapped from the kitchen. They lived for twenty or so years in Italy and are still madly in love. Nanti is full of chat and tells us the saga of their Harry met Sally love story. Although originally from Bangkok, she sounds a bit like an Italian, talking a mile a minute with great energy. In Rome they ran three successful wine bars and have moved to Chiang Mai for a more gentle pace of life. Nanti’s photographs of the streets of Rome line the walls, and the kitchen and family dining table open up to a lush tropical garden. So Italian. So Thai.
“I know my wines,” grins Marco as he shares his brief, but impressive list of Italian wines, many produced by people he knows personally. “I have also cooked all my life and I want to invite people to come here and spend some time with us: sit in our kitchen as we make your antipasti, chat and drink while I cook pasta, listen to music and try different glasses of wines while I pop a pizza into the oven.”
They have spent a couple of years in sourcing produce and products and experimenting to make sure everything is just right.
“Many of the wines I know and love back home don’t travel well,” said Marco, “so I had to explore what Chiang Mai had to offer. I’m still exploring to make sure our guests always have the best quality food and wine.”
Marco says his place is not a restaurant. This is their home and they have made their warm and welcoming place a spot where you can drop by for a sundowner and a chat or for a late night bottle of wine with a group of friends.
Of course you can eat too. But it’s best to book at least a couple of days in advance because there is only one large family table and this is going to become popular as word of mouth spreads.
There’s loads of room inside and outside to sip wine, cocktails and craft beers with delicious antipasti – fresh bread out of the oven, generous slices of meats, chilli jam, a bright, light salad, a little pecorino and olives. Just pop in!
Cocktails start at 290, wine from 300 a glass, from 1,480 the bottle.
For lovers of food and fine wine this is somewhere new and unusual. Come and meet Nanti and Marco who have opened up their home, their kitchen and their hearts.
Facebook: Alt House Gallery