Sometimes substitutions can’t be made. No other cuisine I’ve come across exemplifies this as much as Italian. From ingredients and tools to humbled learning and practice, everything plays an essential role. You can’t drive a car with three wheels; not well at least.

Zarelio Taverna does everything the right way. Their ingredients are imported from Italy. The pizza is cooked in a wood fire oven built by the owners. The people cooking your food learned how to do so in Italy, and they have been doing it for a while now. Sounds like a Porsche on a new set of Parelli, if you ask me.

They do a good assortment of pastas here and the appetizers are quite nice as well – what you want is the pizza. The reason is the wood fired, 850 degree, hand made brick oven. Not to mention the skill of the man managing this beast. The whole process of making your meal was filled with a lot of care really. This is what I want when eating Italian food.

The oven, being filled with fire and all, is very hot. As such, your pizza cooks in about 90 seconds. This does not mean it takes 90 seconds to make. The chef starts by rounding out the dough and slowly stretching it till a sort rimmed saucer forms. He then gets a rolling pin so small, it could really only ever be used for this specific purpose.

In the inner basin of the dough he uses the pin to roll out the base up to the crust, but not on it. This allows him to shape a pie that is a full size, but keep all the air from the ferment in the dough. giving you a thin bottom while still having a very charred and well developed edge. He spent more time shaping the dough than it took to cook the pizza. Time I’m happy to wait.

The oven really is a gem. The flavor of cooking with wood is one that just can’t be replicated. The texture and char you get are nigh unattainable when using electricity too. I don’t make pizza at home because you need a proper oven to do it well, skill can only go so far with bread before your tools hold you back. Give Hendricks a garbage Fender and he’d still be able to shred “Purple Haze”, however Escoffier would struggle making a soufflé with a toaster oven. It’s just how it is sometimes.

Zarelio Taverna, just south of the airport, is a place I wouldn’t go to for the ambiance, then again I can’t eat ambiance. It’s got a simple and consistent inside; same tables and chairs throughout. There is a large chalkboard wall with hand drawn caricatures of food and Italian icons. Smoking allowed at the tables outside.

The people who run this quaint venture are very nice and accommodating, I rather enjoyed my talks with them. The owner has spent time in Italy and the food reflects that.

You can expect to spend around 300 baht per person for a really good meal, made the right way.

Zarelio Taverna An Italian Journey

Open: 17:00-22:00 Tuesday-Friday

11:00-22:00 Saturday and Sunday

Closed Monday

The Good Stuff Chiang Mai

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