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Who doesn’t like Italian food? No one, everyone we know seems to love it and why wouldn’t you, it is a cuisine which has spread worldwide to many households and restaurants.
Italian is popular on Koh Phangan as well, the perfect alternative to native Thai cuisine if you want something comforting and full of fresh flavours.
Leo Beer and Phanganist drove over the beautiful hills of Haad Rin to visit Monnalisa Restaurant and owners Marco and Tony, Tony’s wife is the chef there and she was busy making fresh pasta in the kitchen as any dedicated Italian chef would be.
Marco came to Koh Phangan for the first time in 2007 and had been here for just a week before he knew he wanted to live here.
In July 2008 they opened their first restaurant to test if it would work near Drop In Bar and then after a year moved to their current location in the centre of Haad Rin.
Apart from being Italian, why did you decide to open a restaurant here?
It is what we can do, we know about food so it is easy for us!
And why the name Monnalisa?
Everyone knows about the ‘Monnalisa’ so it is easy to remember.
Monnalisa prides itself on its traditional Southern Italian food mainly inspired by the region of Napoles and chef Cinzia is Italian herself with lots of experience in Italian kitchens so you know that the recipes are genuine and made with honesty.
‘Everything is homemade, the less we can buy the better, our most popular dishes are pizza and our totally homemade pasta’.
Do you think the tourists like coming for Italian meals?
Yes because everyone knows pizza and pasta, they know what they are eating and that it will be good where as with Thai food they may not know what it will be like.
How do you keep the quality to good standards?
We only use Italian products, the quality is important because everyone can do pizza but we do it right!
You have been open for 9 years, do you have many locals and regulars?
Yes, yes! Because they taste the best food! There are so many different kinds here but they try everything and find what they like.
How do you want people to feel here at Monnalisa?
For the Italian people, like they are at home. It’s clean with nice service and fast, we cook pizza in two minutes.
Do you still like having the restaurant in Haad Rin?
For now yes, we opened in Thong Sala before to try but here is the best location for the business.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy all of the island, everything with my family, we don’t go to party anymore.
What would be your favourite dish on the menu?
Ha-ha everything! The pizza and homemade pasta, we honestly like everything though because before we put something on the menu we try it, we are the first customers and we eat every day here.
And does Chef Cinzia enjoy cooking still?
Yes, Tony wants her to stay home but she doesn’t want to. Her passion is to make the homemade pasta!
Monnalisa is a warm and friendly Italian which has gained great success in its 9 years here because of its genuine Italian cuisine.
You can sit with friends over a bottle of wine and delicious pizza from the fire oven or lovingly made homemade pasta, fresh that day.