PHUKET: Tucked away in a small soi off Rassada Road in Phuket Town, just after Krungsri Bank, you will discover one of the island’s many hidden gems.

Unlike the ever-changing coffee shop and restaurant scene in town, Spaghetti & C has been around for longer than I can remember. Nee, the owner, has been serving up some of the best Italian dishes in town for years.

If you get the chance to talk to her, Ms Nee is a very kind, sweet woman – always remembering her regulars and welcoming newcomers – but more often than not she is in the back, cooking up a storm to bring you some real home-style Italian food.

For appetizers, Spaghetti & C serves up caprese salad and some wonderfully flavorful bruschetta, but the cream of the crop is the parmigiana (baked eggplant with tomato and mozzarella).

If you are an eggplant lover, this baked dish comes straight out of the oven and into your heart with its savory tomato sauce and stringy cheese.

Sadly, there are only a handful of places in town where you can get a proper pizza. Thankfully, though, Spaghetti & C is one of them.

This place is perfect for all pizza lovers, especially those on a budget. A medium margherita pizza is only 100 baht, and nothing to scoff at. And if you happen to have an extra 30 baht lying around you can upgrade it to a large.

Just like with the parmigiana, the pizza’s sauce is incredibly flavorful and the cheese is more abundant than if you went to a fancier, more expensive place and ordered the same thing.

Sure, it’s ‘elegant’ to have little dots of cheese on a giant crust and five or six basil leaves thrown on top, but we all know what most people love on their pizza… and most everything else.

The most expensive pizza price on the menu is a mere 170 baht, and includes such varieties as Salmone, Quattro Formaggi, Napoli and Diavoli.

For main entrees, Ms Nee offers pasta, such as traditional carbonara and pesto in addition to lasagna, tortelloni and ravioli. The most expensive item on this list is only 160 baht, and that’s for salmon and ricotta ravioli!

Included on this list of pasta is the sole reason why many loyal patrons go back time and time again: gnocchi.

With three varieties offered – tomato-mozzarella, blue cheese and four cheese – you will realize that the gnocchi at Spaghetti & C is no doubt what you have been yearning for.

If you have ever attempted to cook gnocchi yourself, you will know just how easy it is to over or under cook it. But Ms Nee has it down to a science, and with her excellent sauces and no-fear attitude with cheese, it is hard to stop your heart from melting along with every bite.

I recommend using her homemade chili olive oil to drizzle on everything. It gives the perfect amount of heat without taking away any of the flavor.

Not a fan of tomato sauce? Not a problem. Spaghetti & C offers an amazing dish called Scaloppine al Limone, which is two thin fillets of chicken lightly breaded and fried to perfection, with the most wonderful, savory, creamy lemon sauce you could ever imagine – and it comes with fries.

You will not be disappointed with this dish, and from that moment on, you will always order it, or at the very least convince the person you are with to order it just so you can dip your food into the sauce.

Whatever your Italian food desire is, you can find it with Ms Nee at Spaghetti & C in Phuket Town. Great food, good prices and happy stomachs.

— Sylvia Joy