Italy exports chefs, recipes and ingredients worldwide, each vying with the next to serve the most delicious and authentic cuisine. Chiang Mai too enjoys this plethora of Italian restaurants offering a fantastic range of styles, flavours, prices and settings. You can go to a five-star hotel and indulge in some of the finest ingredients and refined of cooking this side of the Mekong, or visit a humble mum and pop restaurant serving authentic home cooked food that transports you back to your backpacking days exploring the cobble streets of a medieval city. Whether you like your pizzas thick or thin; your carbonara with cream or without and your wallet destroyed or teased, there will be somewhere for you. This is by no means a definitive list of the best Italian restaurants in Chiang Mai – after all taste is subjective and Italian cuisine is a broad stroke – but some of our favourites here at Citylife. We will keep exploring and expanding this list as we go…
Italian gourmet cuisine in a crystal house.
Gioia means joy in Italian. And as we all know, Italians find some of their greatest joy in cooking…and eating (together). Gioia restaurant brings this homey cooking vibe to its diners, while offering a glamorous setting in a crystal venue surrounded by tropical trees.
An inviting menu of classic starters will kickoff any good feast, so order some fresh tomato-topped bruschettas, a plate of tender and crunchy fried calamari, some slithers of beef carpaccio or an indulgent crab meat au gratin. Then there is a generous selection of hearty soups and bountiful salads, both featuring produce fresh from the surrounding mountains of Chiang Mai. If you prefer, you can mix and match your own pastas by ordering your preferred pasta to match with your favourite sauce, or go for some of the chef’s recommended pastas which include the sous vide semi-dried tomato and garlic pasta, the black ink pasta with seafood or the lovely spaghetti with French sea crab. Then there are the risotto dishes as well as a great selection of proteins from prawns to fish, beef to chicken. Gioia has curated some of the most beloved dishes in Italy which makes this a sure-thing destination where every member of any party will find a dish they will enjoy.
Casa Restaurant and Pizzaria
This charming and friendly family-style restaurant doesn’t bother with white napkins and crystal wine glasses; it is all about flavour here. Fans of this restaurant come because of the authentic tastes, generous portions and very reasonable prices, all served up in a casual and non-pretention restaurant.
Original fancy-free recipes focus on authentic flavours of Rome. Simple dishes such as the ubiquitous carbonara are cooked without interpretational fanfare and reminds us what a carbonara should taste like. The pizzas are delightfully thin with the anticipated crunchy crust for texture and topped with only the freshest of local or best of imported ingredients. A simple dish of pasta with porcini, garlic and cheese with a sprinkling of garlic may sound plain, but the flavours burst in the mouth and are so well balanced the dish is elevated to something very special.
The menu is vast and there is surely something for just about anyone whether pastas, pizzas or meat dishes as well as anything in between. The pasta is all homemade and fresh as are the sauces and even the cheeses and breads.
This is a tiny little restaurant with fewer than half a dozen tables, and it’s also becoming more and more popular with local expats, so make sure you book!
The wine list is also very solid and offers reasonably priced house wines up to some more fancy fare.
Casa Restaurant and Pizzeria
224 Ratchapakinai Road, (in front of Wat Chiang Man), T. Sriphum, Muang, Chiang Mai
Open: 11am-2.30pm, 5pm–9.30pm (close on Sundays)
Tel. 094 634 2110
Delivery: LINE Man
Sipolle by Chef Dan Italian Food Chiang Mai
If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, you are in for a treat. Chef Dan has 25 years’ experience in multiple world kitchens and his restaurant is one of the more popular in the city, with a definite need for reservations in spite of its large indoor and outdoor dining area as well as five private rooms which seem to be always full.
What initially sets Sipolle apart from the crowd is the incredible amount of freshly imported produce, arriving daily from seafood markets in Japan, cattle farms in Australia, cold seas of North America and all manner of far flung places around the world. But ingredients do not make a restaurant, and Chef Dan wields his kitchen chops by serving up a very large menu covering all Italian favourites from fresh pastas to some serious meat offerings which should keep the carnivores blissfully happy; pizzas to seafood dishes as well as a fabulous selection of starters hot and cold to get the mouth watering.
Dishes are not shy in portion and tend to highlight its main ingredient(s) as the produce is of such good quality. Flavours are authentic but with an understanding of Thai palates, so there are some dishes which perhaps may have more punch and flavour than their original Italian ancestors, but the crowds who fill up this large restaurant nightly aren’t complaining.
The wine menu is excellent with top shelf wines and champagne from both old and new worlds at bewilderingly lofty prices down to some more sensible and solid table wines, making it affordable for most diners.
Sipolle is a sure thing. Dishes arrive with great consistency and Chef Dan only serves the best produce, which keeps the menu changing enough to entice return customers again and again.
Sipolle by Chef Dan Italian Food Chiang Mai
116/99 Sukhaphiban 5 Rd., Chang Khian, T. Chang Phueak, Muang, Chiang Mai
Open daily: 11am – 2pm, 5pm – 10pm
Tel. 087 912 4892
Delivery: Own delivery
Arcobaleno Italian Restaurant
An incarnation of Chiang Mai’s oldest, and for decades most famous, restaurant Babylon, Arcobaleno is run by the late Babylon’s descendants and serves up some of Chiang Mai’s favourite Italian dishes.
The family-run vibe makes for a casual and friendly restaurant which values its clients, many of whom return year after year, decade after decade.
Authentic freshly made pastas and pizzas as well as meat and fish dishes make for a comprehensive menu and while many new dishes have been added in recent years as a greater variety of produce can be imported or locally sourced, old favourites aren’t forgotten. The creamy rich crab meat au gratin, suckable and succulent ossobuco and spinach ravioli, amongst many other dishes, remain consistent and unchanged for what surely must be nearly four decades.
The menu is vast and you are guaranteed a great selection of pastas, pizzas, meat and seafood dishes, ranging from veal scaloppini alla marsala to quality steaks, pork piccata Napoletana to grilled trout.
Don’t forget to leave room for some desserts covering all the classic Italian favourites, tiramisu, panna cotta, zabaglione as well as some fancy Grand Marnier soufflé and a selection of delicious homemade ice-creams.
Best of all prices are very reasonable and there is a fine drinks and wine selection to wash every bite down.
Arcobaleno Italian Restaurant
60 Na Wat Ket Alley, T. Chang Moi, Muang Chiang Mai
Open: 11am – 2pm, 5.30pm – 10pm (close on Wednesdays)
Tel. 0-5330-6254, 08-6672-1532
Delivery: Grabfood, LINE Man, Foodpanda