This November marks the 5th annual Italian Cuisine Weeks. Celebrated around the world, the culinary festival aims to promote Italian food, wine and cooking traditions as inherent features of Italy’s cultural identity. Italian restaurants all over Vietnam are proud to take part in this initiative. Despite challenges from Covid19 to the F&B industry, our Italian restaurants still stand together, continuing to offer food made with the true Italian spirit of comfort and deliciousness.
Participating restaurants from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and the central regions will be offering exclusive menus for the weeks of November 12-29.
Vietnam’s most cosmopolitan city, Saigon, has become a culinary playground. Adventurous palates and exacting tastes energize the tireless chefs, who delight in both innovativing for fusion twists or remaining true to traditions they hold dear. The city also provides an ideal setting for the social side of dining to flourish: many spots provide family-friendly outdoor areas and designs with an eye for the warm and the homey. Even menus encourage sharing, or at least enough indecision to spark the “Let’s just order everything then!” impulse.
Then there are the sensibilities shared by Italian and Vietnamese cuisines: a hyperfocus on the quality of individual ingredients, rather than on specific technique or manipulation of flavors. Every element must speak for itself, making freshness and immaculate sourcing the cuisines’ secret sauce.
From no frills cafes to luxe eateries, Italy’s culinary imports have found a true home in Saigon. Here, a sweeter, saucier version of spaghetti Bolognese is a kid’s menu staple, while variations on pizza appear on many bar menus as a nod to the dish’s customizable and shareable nature.
With the Italian Cuisine Weeks now rolling across the country, don’t miss your chance to sample the creations of some of the country’s finest chefs. Here is where to do it in style in Saigon.
Come a Casa
In a quiet corner of Thao Dien lies cozy Come a Casa, a concept combining the family ristorante, grocery store and an artisanal pasta shop. Proudly serving dishes that are “homemade from scratch” Come a Casa is all about sharing the love and nourishment through family recipes.
In addition to using quality products imported from Italy, Come a Casa also sources domestically. Their ricotta cheese is made from local milk, the flavor of the fresh dairy shining through in individual dishes. The restaurant’s minimalist interior, flooded with sunlight throughout the day and bathed in warm luminance when the sun sets, reflects the unpretentious food.
Many varieties of pastas are hand-made daily, running the gamut from long-strand bucatini and tagliatelle to stuffed ravioli, to rustic gnocchi. Come a Casa’s specialties for the Italian Cuisine Weeks include some of the classics, like made-from-scratch maltagliati cozze e fagioli (pasta squares tossed with fresh mussels and beans); scaloppina pizzaiola (tender cutlets with savory tomato sauce and herbs, served pizza-style); for something sweet, semifreddo al tiramisu is both airy and rich, making for a perfect ending.
Address: 39 Nguyen Cu, Thao Dien, District 2, Saigon
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R&J Restaurant & Lounge
Boasting interiors both exuberant and welcoming, R&J Restaurant & Lounge is the pinnacle of sophisticated Italian dining in Saigon. Located in the splendid Reverie Saigon, R&J dazzles with vibrant Italian mosaics, elaborate candelabras and a distinct collection of dining chairs. The menu is a collection of chef’s favorites from the North to South of Italy, made with time-tested recipes and seasonal ingredients sourced for seasonality and quality.
For their Italian Cuisine Weeks menu, R&J Restaurant & Lounge focuses on the hyper-seasonal, elusive white Alba truffle. Growing wild in parts of Europe and most famously in the forests of Piedmont in Northern Italy, the tuber is available only between September and December.
Cherished for its pungent yet pleasing aroma, the white Alba truffle’s strong earthiness is perfect for elevating certain pastas and savory dishes. To celebrate the ingredient, R&J offers a menu that makes good use of this synergy. Start with hand-made pasta or risotto, dressed in a simple butter and Parmesan cheese emulsion to allow the truffle to shine. The main course offers a fully decadent experience, presenting a choice of Wagyu beef or black cod enhanced by the truffle’s aroma.
Address: The Reverie Saigon (level B1), 22-36 Nguyen Hue, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Saigon
The Long at Times Square
Boasting the longest bar in Saigon, The Long is helmed by an Italian master instilled with the finest traditions of Naples. Ingredient quality remains at the forefront of the simple, trattoria style food, offering creative twists on both Asian and Western dishes. The pizzas come highly-recommended, hand-rolled from dough made from imported flour and fired-up in an artisanal wood oven.
Address: 22-36 Nguyen Hue, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Saigon
In the true Italian tradition, Red&Round is all about bringing people together to relax, and enjoy simple, hearty fare. Located in a suburban ward of District 7 at 15 Hung Gia, the eatery stays true to its mission to bring “authentic Italian happiness” to the local community.
The idyllic setting features overhanging plants and brick motifs – a rustic-industrial style that bestows a sense of home and warm nights on a lively porch. On the menu are classics done well, using quality imported ingredients and passed-down recipes for heart-warming food reflective of the Italian spirit.
Their specials for the Italian Cuisine Weeks epitomize comfort food. Homemade gnocchi – tender dumplings made from flour and potatoes – come coated in fresh mozzarella and tart tomatoes. The extra-indulgent pizza, crust stuffed with ricotta cheese, arrives drizzled with spicy olive oil and delicate prosciutto di Parma. Lasagna vegetariana overflows with mushrooms, eggplant and bell peppers dressed in rich béchamel sauce, promising complete satisfaction.
Address: 15 Hung Gia 3, Tan Phong Ward, District 7, Saigon
All participating restaurants in Saigon:
Dolce Vita Ice Cream
A beloved spot in Thao Dien, Dolce Vita Ice Cream offers delightful gelato crafted from scratch. The Italian born pastry chef works with carefully-selected ingredients, both local and imported, for the widest variety (24 flavors available at any time!)
Address: 46 Nguyen Cu, Thao Dien, District 2, Saigon
La Forchetta is all about the cozy, homemade feeling. The perfect neighborhood restaurant, their extensive menu offers something for the entire family. From delectable pizzas to pastas, every dish comes at friendly prices perfect for sharing.
Address: 45, 47 Noi khu Hung Phuoc 1, Tan Phong Ward, District 7, Saigon
LUCA Pizza&Italian Restaurant
A crowd favorite in Vung Tau City, Luca serves up all the Italian classics including familiar appetizers, pizzas, pastas and even some Vietnamese dishes. The pizzas are baked in a state-of-the-art Moretti oven imported from Italy. An extensive wine list offers many bottles from Italy, along with Italian coffees and cocktails crafted from international spirits.
Address: 230 Phan Chu Trinh, Vung Tau City
Nestled in a bustling part of Thao Dien, Pasta Fresca specializes in craveable pastas and pizzas all made from scratch, with a touch of fun creativity. Boasting lovely outdoor grounds for an ambiance that can be fun and even romantic, Pasta Fresca is both the family-friendly restaurant and destination dining spot.
Address: 28 Duong Thao Dien, Thao Dien, District 2, Saigon
Pendolasco Restaurant has been keeping the original flavors of Italy in Saigon since 1998. With an open kitchen, traditional wood-fired oven and spacious seating and garden areas, the restaurant aims to share the beloved traditions of Italy in a beautiful, relaxed space.
Address: 30 Tong Huu Dinh, Thao Dien, District 2, Saigon
With 20 locations all over Vietnam, Pizza 4P’s is the ultimate mainstay for sustainably sourced ingredients and simply delicious cooking. With a mission to share happiness and support a better society, Pizza 4P’s offers a large menu built around the seasons, full of creativity and a freshness that truly shines through.
Address: Multiple locations
Chef Manuel Reale brings over 20 years of Italian culinary expertise, as well as experience from pizza-making competitions all over the world. He takes his love and knowledge of Italian cuisine to Pizza Reale, delivering the true Italian day-to-day experience to Saigon.
Address: 29 Nguyen Dang Giai, Thao Dien, District 2, Saigon
Specializing in unique Italian pizzas and dishes, Tonda Pizza uses high-quality imports from Italy with a focus on organic produce and healthy ingredients, such as using only extra-virgin olive oil and less refined flours.
Address: Vincom Mega Mall, Thao Dien, Saigon & Crescent Mall, District 7, Saigon