I have this strange tendency to eat more Italian food in Asia than I do anywhere else, except perhaps Italy itself. I find there are so many below par Italian chains that have dulled my love of the cuisine at home that I mostly don’t bother, although we are luckily seeing an upsurge in quality Italians with the likes of Pizza Pilgrims, Forza Win and Franco Manca. On the road Italian is a popular option for backpackers wanting a taste of the West after countless pad thais and there are a surprising amount of quality Italian restaurants in Asia. Pizzeria Regina on Gili Trawangan is among the very best of them.
Regina is run by an Italian chef who is there, every night, making the huge wood fired pizzas himself with expert hands in an open kitchen area. The pizzas hold the perfect balance of cheese, tomato sauce and toppings on a thin base, the crusts puffed up to perfection, slightly crispy. And although we unfailingly lament that “we could have shared” after we order, we immediately retract this thoughtless statement as we recall that cold Regina’s the next day is one of Gili’s simple pleasures. Service is quick, the staff are friendly and always smiling as they deliver complimentary bruschetta with tomato and pesto to your table. They even brought more up post dinner as an accompaniment to our second bottle of wine.
Regina’s is set back inland from the main road that runs around the beach of the island, and despite the fact that people usually have to stumble across the restaurant unless they actively seek it out, there are always plenty of patrons and Regina is a firm favourite of the permanent expats and dive contingent on Gili. If you’re feeling lazy or holed up by a thunderstorm, Regina deliver for a charge of 10,000 – or a deeply extravagant 15,000 is your place is ‘far’. That’s less than a pound.
I’ve had both pasta and pizza here and cannot shout about this Italian gem enough. Ingredients are fresh and plentiful – pizzas start at 50,000 IDR up to 85,000 IDR, with extras no more than 20,000 IDR each. Pasta dishes range from 40,000 to 80,000 IDR and are as sizeable as the pizzas are large. The carbonara arrived with crispy bacon on top and was the most authentic I’ve had in comparison to eating in Piazza Navrona in Rome itself. Drinks are reasonable too, with a glass of wine coming in at 45,000 IDR and local beer 22,000 IDR for a small and 37,000 IDR for a large, which is hardly more than you would pay in the local shop for your beer.
Pizzeria Regina is a wonderful spot in the growing quality restaurant scene on Gili T, and will remain firmly on my List every time I visit the island without question.