The Passion behind Pendolasco
The man behind Pendolasco, the popular Italian restaurant in the Thao Dien area of Saigon’s District 2, is shy yet charismatic Carlo Anzon, born in Milan but with roots in Sicily. As we chat in the pretty garden dining area over an espresso, his passion and hospitality is infectious. I feel as if I’m a guest in a private villa enjoying a relaxed Sunday afternoon.
Long before finding his way to Ho Chi Minh City, Anzon’s love affair with traditional Italian food began as a child collecting menus on travels throughout his home country with his parents. Charmed by the interest shown by the young boy, restaurant owners were happy to give him one, and what began as a hobby is now a thriving restaurant business. Fascinated, I ask him whether he still has any of those old menus. “120”, he says.
His interest in Vietnam began in the 1970s with his first visit taking place in 1976. Anzon’s first few years were spent in Hanoi, where he met his wife, a Vietnamese national, and his relationship with the country deepened further. Engaged in what he refers to as serious business – Anzon was country manager for an Italian company selling home appliances, Trade Commissioner for the Italian Ministry of Trade and Honorary Consul for Italy before the opening of the Italian Consulate in 2014. It was a while before he took the plunge into full time restaurant ownership - a bold move in 2004, but Anzon is a man who follows his heart.
Pendolasco is Getting the Basics of Italian Cuisine Right in Saigon’s District 2
Now in its 21st year, it is safe to say he has found a winning recipe. His formula of traditional Italian food in District 2 of Saigon, prepared with high quality ingredients served in a charming setting has turned out to be a winning one. He has a loyal following.
Central to the menu is Pendolasco’s homemade pasta and pizza, as well as the delicious breads. The pizza dough is carefully created using Italian flour and yeast cultivated in the Pendolasco kitchen and allowed to rise over a full 24 hours. Rushing the dough makes it difficult to digest he explains to me. The pizzas are cooked in one of the three high tech Italian wood burning ovens. Similar care is taken over the preparation of the fresh pasta which has been popular with Pendolasco’s customers for many years. Many say that it’s the best pasta in Saigon.
Anzon’s attention to detail does not stop here. Ingredients for the toppings and sauces are given equal importance. The imported cheese is carefully chosen - can’t be too fatty or it will burn I’m informed. Fresh vegetables are sourced from local suppliers who use minimal chemicals and triple washed to ensure the best hygiene standards.
Outstanding Italian Food & Wine Options in Pendolasco’s Menu
A new best seller is pizza pala. Made from higher grade flour, the base is lighter and crispier and provides an ideal background for more delicate and sophisticated toppings, such as truffle oil or salmon. Oval in shape and larger than standard, it’s the best pizza choice in Saigon for sharing between two people. No need to agree on a topping – you can do half and half. Only available on Fridays and Saturdays, Pendolasco’s busiest times, this is often a sellout item. Once the freshly prepared dough is gone, pizza pala is off the menu.
To refresh the menu, Anzon gets inspiration from what he refers to as his bible - a recipe book of regional Italian specialties passed down from his grandmother. This year they will expand the meat dishes to add a veal tenderloin main option.
To compliment the food, Anzon ensures that Pendolasco has a lovingly put together wine list. To help guests choose a wine suited to their preferences as well as their wallets, there is a helpful description for each wine with details of the grade and alcohol content. Italian wines account for 70% of the large selection, with new world wines and a small number from France making up the balance. These are all on display in the temperature controlled wine cellar inside the restaurant. One of the top wine by the glass selections in Ho Chi Minh City includes a selection of premium Italian wines, giving wine lovers an opportunity to enjoy a single glass or two without the expense of consuming a whole bottle in one visit. Once a bottle is opened, you have the option of leaving it in Pendolasco’s temperature controlled cellar or taking it home. This is ideal for couples, single diners or those simply wishing to treat themselves to a fine wine to complement their experience.
Pendolasco: A Perfect Environment for Authentic Italian Cuisine in Saigon
The decor has evolved organically over time. There is no great architectural plan - just simple traditional pleasures: a comfortable relaxed environment, authentic regional Italian dishes prepared with the best ingredients and good wines. All that is required is your company for an outstanding Italian restaurant experience in Ho Chi Minh City. Remember that Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are busiest, so book a table or you might be disappointed.
Pendolasco invites you to experience a wonderful slice of Italian food in Saigon that all can enjoy.
Pendolasco Garden Restaurant
Happy hour - 50% off a wide selection of drinks Mon - Fri from 2:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Image source: Pendolasco Restaurant