Best Italian Restaurants in Saigon

food - Saigon/HCMC: Sept. 17, 2018

Foreigners come to Vietnam, and especially Ho Chi Minh, its most international city, with curious palettes for the local cuisine. But, no matter how delicious Vietnamese food is, eventually everyone craves grub from their place of origin!

Luckily Saigon is a metropolitain playground for foodies. It seems that most of the businesses open in Saigon are offering something or other to eat but what you may not know is that with the influx of expats that have entered the city over the last few decades an impressive number of restaurants have emerged offering all manner of international cuisines, including Italian.

italian restaurantsImage source: crazyitalians.com

Italian food is loved and valued worldwide, but is undoubtedly the most appreciated by the people who call the boot-shaped European country their own. Italians need their comfort foods. Luckily for them, and all lovers of Italian food, there are a handful of exceptional options in Saigon to choose from. So whether you’re looking for a low-budget lunch or a night-time fine dining experience, City Pass Guide has tested and tasted Italian dishes across the city to bring you what we think is our list of the best Italian restaurants in Saigon.

Pendolasco

Address: 36 Tống Hữu Định, District 2
Opening Hours: 10:30AM - 10PM
Price: VND160,000 to VND450,000 for a main course.

If you’re looking for a bona fide Italian dining experience in a serene environment, you have to check out Pendolasco, situated in its own French

villa in the heart of Thao Dien. Pendolasco, a favourite amongst foodies in District 2, is notable for its famous pizza alla palla for which its Pizza Master chef Manuel Reale won the Prestigious World Pizza Championship in Parma in 2017.

italian restaurantsImage source: Pendolasco

Pendolasco is one of the longest-running and best Italian restaurants in Saigon. The lovely garden atmosphere combined with the selection of traditional foods cooked up by world-class chefs from the old country, it provides one of the all around best Italian food experiences you’ll find in Saigon.

Boasting a selection of nine fresh pastas and four dry, the chefs are veritable scientists who have mastered the art of cooking pasta that is both pleasing to the taste as well as the stomach.

The Carbonara pasta with pork cheek is a crowd favourite. This homegrown culinary mainstay from Rome is traditionally made with a sticky egg-based sauce and bacon, but Pendolasco’s chefs have added delectable chunks of pork cheek, which make each bite explode in your mouth like a juicy bacon-flavored bomb.

Along with pizza and pasta, Pendolasco has a revolving door of main dishes made by chefs who understand that, as owner Carlo Anzon said, “Cuisine is not static, it is a dynamic art.”

Our favourite dish: The pasta Mare e Monti, a Central Italian pasta dish made with seafood and clams with a porcini mushroom base. The flavour is warm, subtle and earthy.

Ciao Bella

Address: 11 Đông Du Street, District 1
Opening Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. everyday
Price: VND145,000 - VND355,000 for a gluten-free pasta

Ciao Bella has a quaint but cosy location in the Bến Nghé Ward of District 1. It is mostly well-known amongst expats who have been living in Saigon for a good amount of time and know a bargain when they find it.

Ciao Bella is well-lit by sunlight during the day. Although it doesn’t have the most extensive menu out of the restaurants featured on this list, the Italian food Ciao Bella offers is simple and well-made. This characteristic of Ciao Bella is not one that the owners came across by happenstance. At the top of the restaurant’s menu is a quote by Leonardo Da Vinci which reads: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

italian restaurantsImage source: tripadvisor.com

Ciao Bella has gluten-free pasta options and their menu is rounded off by a modest, but tasty Neapolitan pizza selection. Ciao Bella is also known for having a relaxed attitude about the food that they serve. While some places might give you a hard time for say, asking for ‘pink sauce’ with your carbonara or (shudder) pineapple on your pizza, Ciao Bella is one of the best Italian Restaurants in Saigon because they are more than willing to cater to even the most particular of customer tastes, while serving classics the way they were meant to be served.

Our favourite dish: One of Ciao Bella’s most popular offerings is a signature dish called “Posh Carbonara,” which is a rich and hearty plate of spaghetti with garlic cream, poached egg and prosciutto, topped off with truffle oil.

italian restaurantsImage source: ttm82

Pizza 4P’s

Address:
8 Thủ Khoa Huân, District 1 
8/15 Lê Thánh Tôn, District 1 
MD2 Đại lộ, Nguyễn Văn Linh, District 7
151b Hai Bà Trưng, District 3 

6th Floor, 65 Lê Lợi, Saigon Centre Shopping Mall, District 1 
Opening Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. everyday (Last Order: 10:30 p.m.)
Price: VND250,000 - VND500,000

Although, Pizza 4P’s in largely known as a fusion restaurant, it also has its fair share of classic Italian offerings, the quality of which grant it a formidable position on this list as one of the best Italian restaurants in Saigon.

Pizza 4P’s opened in Vietnam 10 years ago with the realisation that local people love bread and might appreciate some decent gourmet pizza with excellent crust. The establishment, with five locations across Saigon, prides itself on its mission of "Delivering Wow, Sharing Happiness."

Pizza 4p’s also strives to participate with local farmers to bring diners a genuine ‘farm to table’ experience. For example, when the founders had trouble sourcing ricotta cheese for their pizza and pasta dishes, they decided to cut out the middle-man and start making it themselves. They cultivate their cheeses in the central city of Dalat, where they also source the vegetables for their dishes.

The use of fresh cheese in their offerings makes each dish outstanding. Pizza 4P’s “Ricotta Cheese Parma Ham Wrap” is a refreshing and popular appetizer. Cool, savoury and with a touch of rocket, it has a unique taste that makes it an excellent starter.

Pizza 4P’s is probably most legendary for its homemade burrata cheese, which can also be individually purchased at each location. By dipping the burrata cheese in salt brine, which hardens the outer layer, a kind of bag of melted cheese is created. Once opened, the burrata spills all over and enhances the flavour of whatever dish it finds itself on.

Pizza 4P’s also partners with Saigon’s own Maison Marou to create seasonal desserts which are unique to each of the restaurant’s locations.

Our favourite dish: The House-made “Smoked Cheese Bolognese Spaghetti” is a standout. Any fan of Italian food has surely eaten Bolognese spaghetti at some point but an added morsel of smoked burrata melted over the pasta bring out the flavour of the Bolognese beef and takes the dish to another level.

italian restaurantsImage source: Pizza 4P’s

Carpaccio

Address: 79 Hai Bà Trưng, District 1 
Opening Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. everyday
Price: VND140,000 - VND425,000

You can find Carpaccio Italian Restaurant on a busy section of Hai Ba Trung in District 1 just past the Park Hyatt Saigon.

At first glance it seems quite humble in stature, in fact if you’re not careful you can easily pass it. However, upon walking into this restaurant that opened more than 18 years ago, the ambience changes immediately and the depth of the restaurant becomes apparent. Immediately, guests are enveloped in an Italian aesthetic, which is meant to make Italian folks far from home feel embraced by the familiar.

The staff, most of whom have been at the restaurant throughout it’s different incarnations, also help to give the restaurant a warm, familial environment. The traditional trattoria atmosphere pairs well with the homestyle cooking that makes Carpaccio a favorite for many who can’t go without Italian food in Saigon.

italian restaurantsImage source: tripadvisor.com

The items on the menu are listed in Italian, untranslated, giving an even stronger air of authenticity. There are nine different kinds of pasta on deck. Although classic dishes like the Bolognese tend to be the most popular, they also have deep culinary cuts like “Pomodoro de Basilico,” a signature dish made with diced fresh tomato sauce with fresh basil, which will smell and taste like home if you’re Italian.

Carpaccio makes our Best Italian Restaurants in Saigon list because of their excellent food but also because of their dedication to quality. Chefs are flown in from Italy periodically to reinvigorate the menu with new dishes, which are rotated regularly. With a more than decent wine selection, delectable meats and cheeses imported from the motherland and gracious hosts that are more than willing to guide the dining experience for newcomers, Carpaccio is great for an authentic dining experience that won’t break the bank.

Our favourite dish: Anyone visiting should try the dish that has provided the namesake for the restaurant. Carpaccio di Filetto con Rucola e Grana, which is slices of raw marinated beef, lemon juice, olive oil, arugula (rocket) and flakes of Parmesan cheese.

italian restaurantsImage source: fbcdn.net

R&J

Address: The Reverie Saigon (level B1), 22-36 Nguyễn Huệ Boulevard, District 1 
Opening Hours: 5PM - 0AM | 6PM - 10PM
Price: VND288,000 to VND688,000 for a main course.

R&J (short for Romeo and Juliet) provides the finest of dining experiences of the restaurants that have made the list. Situated in the luxurious Reverie Hotel, it boasts an absolutely stunning decor that unites both a classic and a contemporary flair.

Patrons will find themselves surrounded by gold tones, Italian mosaics and magical candelabras. R & J is appropriate for large gatherings but it is ideal for an intimate dinner. Although it’s on the pricey side, those with deep enough pockets will have their taste buds wooed by what R&J’s cuisine.

italian restaurantsImage source: thereveriesaigon.com

Perhaps the best representation of R&J’s extensive menu lies in it’s “Romeo and Juliet” offerings. The Romeo and Juliet menus are a pair of five-course dinners, which are individually picked for couples. The meals begin with crisp, subtle flavours and build in potency with each course.

Some standouts on the Romeo side of things are the Napolitano, which is comprised of Paccheri pasta, 12 hours long slow cooked Neapolitan meat ragout in what they call a “grandma recipe”. Also, the Polipo, made with Pan-seared Japanese octopus, lemony potatoes salad, salmon roe, and tarragon.

Some diners have listed disappointing experiences at R&J on TripAdvisor and Facebook forums regarding the quality of the food for the price. However, the restaurant seems to have taken the time to refresh their recipes and to strive for the top-notch quality expected of a 6-star hotel. It is not the cheapest Italian restaurant in Saigon but it is certainly one of the best.

Our favourite dish: The coup de grace on the Juliet menu is the Wagyu course, made with slowly baked Wagyu beef brisket, purple potato, and porcini mushroom flavoured with spring truffle.

italian restaurantsImage source: tripadvisor.com

The Long @ Time Square

Address: 22 - 36 Nguyễn Huệ Boulevard, District 1 
Opening Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 0:00 a.m.
Price: VND138,000 to VND238,000 for a pizza

The Long @ Time Square restaurant is located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, stretching between the two popular streets of Đồng Khởi and Nguyen Hue. The Long is more of a cafe type venue with a simple yet very slick and modern design.The restaurant’s guests can sit either inside or outside.

italian restaurantsImage source: thereveriesaigon.com

The menu is presents only the best Italian fusion dishes created by the restaurant’s chef from Napoli, Italy. This might be one of the best places to experience true Italian food, because a lot of ingredients are transported directly from Italy.The Long also features an enormous amount of homemade gelato flavours - 32 at last count.

Our favourite dish: The pizza! It is authentic, artisanal and some of the best in town.

Video source: The Long Times Square

Banner Image source: Pendolasco