La Gaetana enjoys a formidable reputation in Phuket as a small, family-run Italian restaurant with an eye for details.
Giovanni Ferrara ('Gianni') and his Thai wife Chonchita are the hospitable owners of La Gaetana and excel in making diners feel comfortable and ensuring that a gourmet meal is enjoyed here.
Where Is It?
On Phuket Road, downtown Phuket Town. Coming from McDonalds, go to the crossroads of Phuket Road with Ongsimpai Road.
Turn left at the crossroads' traffic light and La Gaetana is on the opposite side, right there on the corner. Park in the Chinese Temple on the left a few metres down Phuket Road.
Cheerfully classic; the main dining area of this 80-year-old building sports a red floor, dark wooden ceiling and bright mustard walls with nuances of lime green. There's an antique cupboard to store wine glasses in next to a clever bar and tasteful trinkets and oddities abound.
The next room features an open kitchen with several tables for diners who prefer fans to air conditioning and here the décor is no less eclectic. Converted from a Chinese-style backyard and kitchen, it features turquoise walls, a water trough transformed into a mini fountain to the side and lots of knick knacks, with a varnished stairway.
There's a classy yet laidback atmosphere in La Gaetana. Diners don't exactly wear tiaras and Rolexes but eating out here is a bit of an event, albeit a laidback one. Gianni is a wonderful host and a hyper professional sommelier.
With only 32 covers, the restaurant is intimate and with light background jazz, the foundation for a wonderful evening dining out is established even before you arrive.
There are 23 labels in all with only one being non-Italian (a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon house wine). Gianni expertly decants at tableside and his decanting gear, once laid out, is quite impressive.
It's all a great show and adds to the atmosphere. We sample a 2004 'Beneventano' Aglianico red, which is excellent and truly complements the food.
By the way, the dry Martini I have for aperitif is spot on as Gianni asks me exactly how I want it.
A mixed carpaccio of salmon, tuna, beef and an especially tasty smoked duck breast is a great opener, along with rocket salad with parmesan in balsamic vinegar. A great touch is the warm baguette slices in a wicker basket accompanied by sachets of homemade butter.
Imported baked Portobello mushroom in gorgonzola sauce is next and a rare treat it is. Following a homemade sorbet we continue with cannelloni in a bolognaise sauce that approaches perfection.
The secret to dining here is to take your time and let the dishes complement and fill out the evening. This is fine Italian dining at its zenith and is not to be rushed and the wonderful thing is that Gianni has trained his kitchen staff so well in expert food preparation. There is also an extensive selection of extra-virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars in decanters on a dresser by the door to raise culinary standards even higher.
In keeping with the restaurant's high standards, the service at La Gaetana is exemplary.
Trained by Gianni, many staff members have worked there for several years. Young, polite and professional, you will be well looked after.
La Gaetana Restaurant
- Opening Hours: for lunch Monday, Tuesday and Friday. Closed Wednesday.
- Location: 352 Phuket Road. Phuket Town.
- Remarks: Evening reservations necessary.
- Tel: +66 (0)76 250 523 - Mobile: +66 (0)81 397 1227