#199: Pinto Thai Bistro

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As of this posting Pinto Thai Bistro is the newest restaurant in Roseville (unless Cheese Louise has sneakily opened).  A little while ago when I was headed to Mary’s Pizza Shack for that post I stopped by to see if this new Thai place had opened yet, and they had.  I stepped inside to grab a menu and asked how long they had been open, to which the answer was just a few days.  Now that they’ve had a few weeks to find their feet it was time to have dinner and see what they are all about.  I was joined last night by some family at about 5:30.  I was about 10 minutes early and was met up by my brother and his wife moments later.  We stepped inside ahead of the rest of our party to get seated.

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Inside, Pinto Thai is larger than I had expected.  It is nicely decorated and modern feeling.  A little different than most Thai places around here is the bare floor and unfinished ceiling, which can carry sound pretty well.  The place was pretty quiet for most of our stay with just a few other customers, but with an infant that was talking up a storm (or trying to, anyway) it felt a little busier due to the noise.  One of the owners (I’m assuming) greeted us and took us to the end of the dining room, where she put a couple of tables together for our group, and had us seated.  She left for a moment to get the additional place settings and then asked if we would like to order drinks.  Their beer & wine license is pending, it would be a couple more weeks according to her, and she was very apologetic about it.  We all just went with Thai Iced Teas.

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Soon my mom and grandma joined us and we set about deciding on our order.  I must say that this is the most easy to read and American/English-friendly one I’ve seen so far.  Everything is described well and there is not a single word in Thai (aside from some phonetic English translations).  One thing that I wasn’t sure about was that most of the drinks were followed by “(refill)”.  I wasn’t sure if that meant a refill was the same price as the first, or if refills were included.  Thai Iced Tea was one of these and it seemed unlikely to me, at the time, that you would get a refill on that since most places don’t do it.  Turns out I was wrong, you get (at least one) free refill on the large Thai Iced Tea, so at $2.50 this is a great value, and the tea is freaking delicious too!

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We ordered our food, including a couple of appetizers.  When it was particularly quiet you could hear them making everything back in the kitchen.  The appetizers came about in roughly 15 minutes.  We had Chicken Sa-Tay (Grilled marinated chicken breast on a skewer, served with peanut sauce and cucumber salad) [$8.95] and Fried Spring Rolls (Spring roll wrapper stuffed with cabbage, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, served with sweet & sour sauce) [$6.95].  The spring rolls were extremely hot and had a crisp, flakey outer-shell.  A little dip in the clear-ish sweet & sour sauce and these were quite good.  The check sa-tay was delicious and full of flavor from the curry marinade.  The peanut sauce that this came with was crazy good, the best I’ve ever had.  There were lots of coarsely ground peanuts in it giving it a wonderful texture and crunch.  The chicken itself was perhaps a touch on the dry side but still pretty good.

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The main dishes started arriving about 5 minutes after the appetizers.  They didn’t come all at once, but instead were brought out one by one about a minute apart from each other.  It was a little odd.  They didn’t have any serving utensils with them and we eventually had to ask for them once the last dish arrived.  First up was my favorite, Pad Se-iew (Pan fried flat rice noodles with egg, garlic, carrots, broccoli and brown sauce) [$9.95] with chicken.  This was easily one of the best I’ve ever had.  The noodles were done perfectly and there was plenty of egg and sauce mixed in for a wonderfully rich flavored dish that had plenty of tender pieces of chicken.

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Next up was Basil Fried Rice (Wok-fried rice with egg, onions, red bell pepper, basil and garlic chili sauce) [$9.95].  This one was designated on the menu as spicy with a little hot pepper beside the name.  I found it to be maybe 2.5 out of 5 in terms of spiciness.  Enough to enjoy but not so much as to overwhelm any other flavor or clear out your sinuses.  The rice itself was very good.  I love freshly prepared fried rice and this was definitely that.  We had this with tofu.

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Lastly, we had the Pineapple Curry (Red curry paste with coconut milk, pineapple, tomato, red bell pepper and basil) [$9.95] also with tofu.  I was a little concerned about this one because at first glance it seemed to be lighter in color than most.  I had a very dull looking red curry at Papaya Thai (now closed) that was not at all good.  That concern was thankfully unwarranted, the curry was fantastic!  We did not receive any steamed rice along with this one automatically and had to ask for some, which was brought out in just a minute or so.  The pineapple was super ripe and delicious, contrasting with the savory red curry.

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I think this may have been the first time my grandma has had Thai food and she totally into it, particularly loving the pad se-iew and the pineapple curry.  I had noticed on the menu that they had mango sticky rice [$5.95] in the dessert section.  This is something I haven’t encountered outside of Thailand yet and was curious to see if it would be as good.  They also have fried banana with ice cream, fried banana with honey, and stand-alone ice cream.  The ice cream is Gunther’s, a local favorite out of Sacramento, which somehow I’ve still yet to try.  We ordered up two servings of mango sticky rice, one with white rice and the other with black.  These came out in about 5 minutes.  So far it looked like pretty much the same thing I had eaten before from the roadside stalls.  We were given a stack of small dessert plates and spoons.  The spoons were an odd choice.  We all agreed, after much fumbling with the slippery mango slices, that forks would have been better.  The rice was served warm with a sweet coconut milk-based topping.  The mangos were good, but I felt like they could have been a bit more ripe.  They had just a hint of tartness to them.  I remember the mangos in Thailand being extremely ripe, soft and sweet.  Still, this was really good and everyone liked it.

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Add another name to the list of very good Roseville Thai restaurants.  The food here was great.  The main issue I had here was that the pacing was way off, if you can call it pacing at all.  We were left without a visit for quite some time after being delivered our food, so it was a while before we were able to even order the dessert.  I felt like this could be one of two things.  The owners, who were doing all the service, were both very quiet and almost a bit timid.  In Thailand, and I’m sure elsewhere outside the US, you aren’t rushed through and given your check unless you ask for it, so I felt like maybe something like that was going on here.  On the other hand, they may simply not have the serving experience necessary to meet our expectations.  Perhaps they could use a dedicated and experienced server to handle the front of the house.  That said, they were both very friendly and seemed eager to please their patrons.  I still think this is a great Thai place and worth the slower than usual paced service for the excellent food.  Take-out is certainly a good option as well.

As of now I’m waiting on the next restaurant to open, so stay tuned.  In the meantime I might go check out a cafe in an Indian market on Foothills that a fellow Roseville foodie/blogger let me know about.

Website: http://www.pintothairoseville.com

(Scanned) Menu: Click Here

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