Photo by Rodney Hughes

For a city nestled within South-East Asia, Saigon has a lot of fantastic Italian food restaurants, and Pendolasco is no exception. The establishment has been serving up delicious pizza, pasta, and seafood to the city for almost 20 years now and shows no signs of slowing down. With a second location in District 2, delivery, and a gigantic menu, the Pendolasco team has you covered no matter what Italian food it is you’re craving.

 

The downtown location is prominent on Nguyen Hue, but the tiny entrance is deceptive; once you walk into Pendolasco you find yourself underneath a canopy of greenery and a beautiful selection of seating either outside under the Saigon sky or inside by the candlelight with air-conditioning. The space resembles an authentic Italian trattoria and for a minute it’s easy to forget that outside is the bedlam of District 1.

 

The menu reads like a novella in terms of length and the poetic names of the dishes; nizzarda (VND190,000) mixed vegetables with tuna, egg, and cheese or the caprese ai 3 pomodori (VND260,000), mozzarella cheese with basil, fresh tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and black olives.

 

“Having such a long menu means that anyone can find something they want, no matter where they’re from or what they like,” says Matteo Giandomenico, manager of the District 1 location. “We will even be happy to cook something off-menu for you.”

 

He adds: “It’s great working here. Everyone on staff is part of the Pendolasco family, that’s part of the Italian experience and we keep it as authentic as possible.”

Photo by Rodney Hughes

Photo by Rodney Hughes 

Upping the Game

 

There is a new menu that launched this past June, including additions such as nero di seppia con calamari e trancetto di tonno scottato (squid ink risotto with cherry tomatoes, squid, and seared red tuna, VND310,000). This particular dish is not only stunning with the delicately seared tuna on a bed of dark risotto, but also succulent and flavoursome. Be sure to check your teeth and lips in the mirror after ordering this dish — the squid ink can stay with you for quite some time.

 

The weekday set lunch changes each day and offers a different combination of starter and either pasta, main, or pizza, plus one drink, for VND180,000.

 

Pendolasco isn’t just a restaurant but an authentic experience, crafted by a group of passionate Italians who have made it their mission to keep creating and serving traditional Italian food to every customer.

 

Even though the restaurant prides itself on authenticity, Chef Alessandro Ferreti still has creative licence in the kitchen to create new and exciting dishes. The ostrich carpaccio with rocket, shaved parmesan and roasted cherry tomatoes, carpaccio di struzzo scottato con rucola, scaglie di grana e pomodorini arrostiti (VND240,000), is an exotic choice from the specials menu and an extremely light and tender option compared to the typical beef carpaccio.

 

“It’s amazing working in this industry and being able to work with the customers to give them a good meal,” exclaimed Matteo, “The only thing better than seeing a happy customer leave [Pendolasco], is seeing them return eager for more.”

 

Pendolasco is at 87 Nguyen Hue, Q1, HCMC. Their District 2 branch is at 36 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, HCMC

Photo by Rodney Hughes

Photo by Rodney Hughes

Sian Kavanagh

A Liverpool-born writer who has lived in Amsterdam, Oregon, US and now Ho Chi Minh City, Sian recently graduated with a BA in Journalism from the University of Oregon. When she's not busy with Word Magazine, Siân is volunteering in media production for the Vinacapital Foundation, and is passionate about salsa dancing, exploring Vietnamese cuisine, and hanging out with her 11-year-old French Bulldog.

Website: www.sianjkavanagh.com

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