As some of you may know, I wrote part 1 of this article a few months ago whose content based on my Vietnamese taste and top rankings on TripAdvisor. I was extremely happy and surprised by your comments and fascination for Italian delicacies in the heart of Saigon. However, it seems to not really works since many expats confirmed the list is not 100% Italian authentic and suggested me some other restaurants. I truly appreciated all and decided to give it a try at some of the places below. Join me and pop by here if you fancy a change of taste in Vietnam.
Hidden away down a lane on Nguyen Hue walking street is a true hidden gem of Italian cuisine, featuring a quaint and cozy restaurant with a spacious courtyard called Pendolasco, which is so far one of the oldest Italian restaurants in Saigon since its establishment in 1998. With the Italian owner, Italian manager, Italian chefs, where can be more Italian authentic than Pendolasco? The staff members speak English fluently, are well-mannered and welcoming. The clearest evidence can be seen through one person's review that when she went there and told them about her boyfriend's birthday, they even sang a cheerful birthday song to him with an adorable message on a plate. The menu varies from fresh appetizers, pizzas cooked to perfection with incredible toppings, pasta, risotto and more delectable offerings based on traditional artisanal methods to a large list of international wine, as well as desserts and beverages. There is also a set lunch at 180,000VND at both branches with a starter, a main and a drink included.
Pendolasco Thao Dien organises a pizza class for kids from 5 to 12 on Sundays (starts in September), where children can make their own pizzas, instructed by chef Manuel Reale, who proudly won the pretigious World Pizza Championship in Parma 2017 (follow its facebook for more information: https://www.facebook.com/Pendolasco/)
Website: http://pendolasco.vn/en (English, Vietnamese)
Opening hours: 11:00am-10:00pm (Everyday)
Price range: 90,000 – 600,000VND
Address: #87 Nguyen Hue Street, District 1, HCMC
Tel: (+84) 28 3821 8181
*Pendolasco 2 Thao Dien:
Address: #36 Tong Huu Dinh Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, HCMC
Tel: (+84) 28 6253 2828
Having an outstanding view of Saigon Opera House – the great exemplary architecture of French colonialism in Vietnam, Opera is a perfect place for a welcoming and casual trattoria dining. There is also an option to eat outside on the terrace but tables are limited so you had better reserve and request for this in advance if it’s your preference. With the passionate and expert Italian chef, Opera will take you on a phenomenal trip to uncover the signature taste of Italy’s hearty cuisine from wood-fired pizza, pasta to homemade Italian dishes prepared from an open kitchen. Moreover, the breakfast menu featuring the well-loved Vietnamese pho and special buffets at Sunday noons never fail to please its customers. Some reviews also praised for the great variety of gluten-free food available for coeliacs and the friendly waiters who always ensure that people with food allergies are well-catered for. Prices are rather high as the restaurant locates in a 5-star hotel with well-trained service staff. Still, you get what you pay for and having a meal here will definitely not disappoint you.
Website: http://www.saigon.park.hyattrestaurants.com/opera/default-en.html (English, Vietnamese)
Address: #2 Lam Son Square, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC / Lobby level of Park Hyatt Saigon
Tel: (+84) 28 3520 2357
Price range: 1,000,000 – 2,000,000VND
3. La Bettola
Set in a lovely villa, not too casual nor too classy, La Bettola is a rare Italian restaurant in Saigon that stays true to Italian taste. Customers can choose to dine either indoors or outdoors in a covered patio. The service staff is very attentive and the Italian owner/chef Giuseppe Amorello who puts his heart into making real Italian dishes sometimes walks around, greet all customers and answers any questions to make sure everything is prepared to their liking. He even revealed that the wood-fired oven was custom-made so that they could get just what they were looking for in the quality of pizza and bread. Needless to say, pizzas are fantastic, homemade pasta – lasagna, gnocchi and ravioli - risotto as well as other various meat and fish are top-notch. The homemade mozzarella cheese is also really popular. There is a set lunch with 2 courses at 180,000VND and 3 courses at 290,000VND from Monday to Friday with different menu weekly. One special thing to note, every Friday night from 6:00pm-9:00 pm starting this week August 4th, there will be gastronomic ‘All You Can Eat’ buffet available in the outdoor gallery (no drinks included). However, reservation is always a must here.
Website: http://www.la-bettola.com/ (English)
https://www.facebook.com/labettolasaigon/ (English, Vietnamese)
Address: #82 Xuan Thuy Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, HCMC
Opening hours: 10:00am-10:00pm (Everyday)
Tel: (+84) 28 3898 9600
Price range: 115,000 – 350,000VND
4. Pasta Fresca
Recently opened in July 2016 by two long time best friends from Tuscany, Federico Pinzi, head chef, and Valerio Di Veglia, manager, Pasta Fresca is a small place to share their passion for Italian delicacies. The restaurant is intimate yet photogenic with great care in the decorative details, as well as a lovely small garden, colorful tables, and great service. The whole menu including food and drinks is not extensive, as in its name, the restaurant specializes in pasta with ingredients chosen upon your preference: you pick a pasta style and a sauce style, then Federico makes the dish right in front of you. This place is very popular and the number of tables is limited so it is best to book a table in advance.
Website: http://www.la-bettola.com/ (English)
Address: #28 Thao Dien Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, HCMC
Opening hours: 11:30am-2:30pm, 6:00pm-10:30pm (from Tuesday to Sunday)
Tel: (+84) 169 451 3422
Price range: 45,000 – 300,000VND
5. Chef Mamma’s
Founded in 1996, Chef Mamma’s is where Vietnamese meets Italian cuisine, just like its owners – Ms. Thu Thuy and her husband Mr. Nunzio Biviano, the friendly Italian chef with over 40 years experience of cooking who sometimes offers free candies or desserts. Wholehearted service with the motto “Customers’ health comes first”, the restaurant uses not only olive oil for cooking but also fresh and raw ingredients imported from Italy in order to preserve the original and special flavors. Covering a large menu of over 150 offerings from Italy and Vietnam like pizza, spaghetti, risotto or broken rice, food lovers will be pleased savoring the dishes while discovering the differences of the culinary culture between two countries. The place is very clean with an open kitchen so you can see how your good is cooked and sophisticated details in decorations like Italian maps and pictures. There is also a private zone for smokers inside. Furthermore, Chef Mamma’s is located near Tan Son Nhat Airport and inside Saigon SuperBowl Center so you can play bowling then enjoy the Italian/Vietnamese meal, perfect for weekend hangouts with friends.
Address: #A43 Truong Son Street, Ward 4, Tan Binh District, HCMC
Opening hours: 10:00am-10:00pm (Everyday)
Tel: (+84) 28 3848 6478
Price range: 50,000 – 150,000VND
6. VIII-RE OttavoRe
This classy and high-quality Italian restaurant VIII-RE or Eighth King located in the heart of Phu My Hung has slowly made local converts and is poised to gain wider attention. But first, aren’t you curious about its name? Why the Eighth King? Well, according to legend, there are seven kings that ruled over Rome before the Roman Republic and Empire. And it has always been a very popular Roman acknowledgment that if you put great passion into something and you do it well, you will become the Eighth King of Rome. Interesting, isn’t it?
VII-RE has an open veranda with high ceiling and no air-conditioner (but still very airy), 2 lounging areas and a massive tree trunk as a table for parties. Upon arrival, customers are served an amazing straight-from-oven bread sprinkled with sea salt and olive oil vinegar. Most of the ingredients in this restaurants are imported from Italy, from flour, cheese, mains including seafood, meat to wine. Though in its ‘baby stage’, the restaurant still receives huge compliments and popularity for its attentive service and a wide menu, including pasta and risotto made to perfect al dente with great pizza and grill selection. And if you want to order some wine, the friendly staff will ask you to step into the glass wine cabinet then personally choose your favorite.
Website: http://www.ottavore.com/about/ (English)
Address: #27 Le Van Thiem Street, Tan Phong Ward, District 7, HCMC
Opening hours: 5:00pm-11:00pm (Everyday)
Tel: (+84) 28 5410 7232 – (+84) 909 158 351
Price range: 150,000 – 780,000VND
Carpaccio, previously known as Pomodoro, takes you into a paradise of authentic Italian food with fresh ingredients paired with traditional artisanal recipes cooked by well-trained chefs that will light a firework on your palate and draw a big happy smile on your lips. The menu overall consists of classic Italian dishes with the basics covered in every aspect: meat, fish, pasta, and pizza. Prices are affordable and the service staff is excellent with good English. Customers are also served fresh crusty breadsticks with creamy butter or olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping while looking over the menu. The décor reminds customers of an old Italian wine cabinet with a nice brick ceiling, walls and interesting photos of old Italy. Though has a good location near many attractions, it is not packed frequently as there are many tables.
Website: http://www.carpaccio.com.vn/ (English)
Address: #79 Hai Ba Trung Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC
Opening hours: 10:00am-10:00pm (Everyday)
Tel: (+84) 28 3823 8957 – (+84) 28 3823 8998
Price range: 50,000 – 400,000VND
8. La Hostaria
As one of the Good Morning restaurant chain, which was considered by The Guide magazine as the best Italian restaurant chain in Vietnam, La Hostaria is known for its a very wide and creative range of authentic ethnic Italian dishes, in addition to the traditional classics of soups, veal and fish dishes, risottos, pizzas and pastas. The Italian wines are excellent and the staff is very attentive. Right from the entrance, customers immediately confronted with the iconic Pulcinella on glass – a symbol of Napoli, reminiscing of southern Italy with traditional masquerade balls. The interior design of the restaurant is warm and intimate with a sense of ancient Italian architectural style, most notably the colored glass paintings, the stone ceiling and walls so even if it is midday, the place is still cool and airy. At that level of quality, the price remains quite reasonable. Most of La Hostaria’s guests are businessmen or guests coming from offices and buildings around Le Thanh Ton Street. It can be a bit busy at times but there is always room at the bar to have a drink while waiting for a table.
Website: http://www.hostariasaigon.com/ (English)
Address: #17B Le Thanh Ton Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC
Opening hours: 11:00am-3:00pm, 6:00pm-11:30pm (Everyday)
Tel: (+84) 28 3823 1080
Price range: 200,000 – 600,000VND
9. Buzza Pizza
Buzza Pizza is a very good Italian restaurant and famous among the locals, which takes the production of a pizza very seriously. Pizzas are baked in a wood-fired oven instead of conventional ovens like other places and take about 5-10 minutes to be served with perfect quality at 30cm. Hospitable service with several English speaking staff but the place is a little noisy, especially during lunch and dinner time, as it is patronized by many families. Though cheaper priced than other pizza places, the food was on par. An amazing bonus for customers is that if you spend 600,000VND, you get a VIP membership card and you will get 50% discount on pizza, pasta, risotto and 20% discount on take-away pizza (with 1 drink per customer is required and the expiry date is 1 year after the issuing date).
Website (3 restaurants): http://www.buzzabbq.vn/en/branch.html (English, Vietnamese)
5-7-9 Nguyễn Trung Trực, P. Bến Thành, Dist.1
51-53 Nguyễn Thị Thập, phường Tân hưng, Dist.7
1 st floor, Siêu Thị Emart, 366 Phan Văn Trị, Quận Gò Vấp Dist.
Price range: 49,000 – 199,000VND
10. Oliver’s Pizza
Nestled in a quiet alley, off an interesting street full of great shops and cafes, Oliver’s Pizza is quaint with only a few tables inside, giving it a very cozy feeling. The major difference from other pizzerias is that they serve tasty and fluffy Romana-style pizzas, which originated in the Italian capital with rectangular shapes and medium-thick dough bases. The dough is matured for 24-72 hours at just above freezing temperature, giving it a hearty yet light, richer and fuller flavor. Pizza is available by slice so you don’t have to have a huge meal and can get a snack after work, by half tray of 4 slices or full tray of 8 slices up to 10 different kinds. The side salad is fresh and a perfect complement at reasonable prices. They also have 2 combo options. In addition to red, white and rosé wines, there are also beers and good Italian coffee. The owner/chef Olivier is really friendly and courteous and the service is terrific.
Website: https://www.facebook.com/oliverspizzasaigon (English, Vietnamese)
Address: #80/5 Mac Dinh Chi Street, Da Kao Ward, District 1, HCMC
Opening hours: 11:00am-2:00pm, 5:00pm-10:00pm (Everyday)
Tel: (+84) 933 502 638
Price range: 100,000 – 300,000VND
Comment below and tell me about your Italian taste buds!