ITALIAN expat Claudio Ceriani is the first to admit that success doesn’t come easy. Since arriving in the Kingdom 28 years ago he’s operated (and since shuttered) restaurants in Pattaya and Cha-Am, been burned literally, figuratively and financially, and had to negotiate all kinds of cultural pitfalls in his pursuit of a culinary smash hit.
That hit finally materialized in 1996 when Claudio opened his first iteration of Mamma Mia on Hua Hin’s Damnernkaseam Road. Now in a new, better location on Naresdamri Road (near the pier), the restaurant will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year – an impressive achievement that’s testament of Mamma Mia’s unwavering focus on quality.
“Doing business in a town like Hua Hin, which can be very quiet in the off-season, can be very tough. You have to be ready for highs and lows, and never compromise on your offerings.”
Throughout all of his culinary adventures Claudio has always adhered to two guiding philosophies – to offer the best representation of northern Italian cuisine that he can, and to treat his guests as though they are visiting his home.
“At Mamma Mia we offer traditional mamma-style cooking,” he says. “We may not be professional cooks with backgrounds in five star hotels, but we are passionate about creating delicious homemade food using family recipes – and we pride ourselves on great presentation, too.”
Bread and pasta are all made fresh daily, ingredients are sourced from local markets as well as the nation’s foremost importers, and Claudio has carefully constructed his menu to offer a decent selection of appetizers, soups, salads, pastas, risottos, premium steaks and seafood, and wood fired pizzas. There’s even a small menu featuring seasonal dishes you won’t find elsewhere. Quality over quantity is the mantra here.
You can start your meal with a Snails a’ la’ Bourgogne (B360), say, or Pan-seared Hokkaido scallops with green and bell pepper salad (B420), before moving onto mains like Grilled lamb loin in black truffle sauce with diced roast potato, sage and rosemary (B690), and Rigatoni pasta with melted spicy sausage, cherry tomato and ricotta cheese (B330).
Team all of this with one of the restaurant’s many fine wines, and finish with a dessert like the classic Tiramisu (B260), and you have yourself a fantastic meal at great value for money – all served in a homely atmosphere by the sea.
“When people visit Mamma Mia for lunch or dinner they should expect nothing less than a great experience,” says Claudio. “Customers should always enjoy friendly service, great food, and excellent value. And this is what we will always endeavor to deliver.”
8/4 Naresdamri Rd. Hua Hin. Open daily 11.30am-2pm; and 5.30pm-10pm. Parking available. Tel: 1032 512 250