At the top of Le Duan street in District 1, shielded behind a wall of trees and under a canopy of shade, is Tavola (1 Le Duan Street, located inside Petro Vietnam Tower at 1-5 Le Duan). It occupies the ground floor of PV Tower, within walking distance of Notre Dame Cathederal and some of the city’s best shopping. Serving a mix of classic and modern dishes made from the finest ingredients in authentic Italian style, Tavola is a peaceful oasis of Italian elegance and fine dining in the center of Ho Chi Minh City.
Tavola, which literally means “table” in Italian, opened in November 2017. Its founder, Tran Thi Hoai Anh, has a background in marketing and international business development, and wanted to create a restaurant in Saigon that captured her love of Italian cuisine. She assembled an Italian dream team that included Mariasole Capodanno, a Milan-based F&B consultant, to create a signature Italian experience, and PierFranco Mannazzu, a veteran Italian chef, also from Milan, who has worked in some of Milan’s most fashionable and elite restaurants. These three have combined their talents to create a stylish, elegant and modern environment with an outstanding menu of classic and modern Italian cuisine.
A good dinner begins with great drinks, and here Tavola does not disappoint. For the traditionalist, try the Old Fashioned (VND220,000), or try signature Tavola Sunset (VND180,000), a gin infusion with egg white topping. Wine-lovers will be pleased to find a wide selection of international wines, which are also integrated into the design as a wine library on the far wall. The interior has an opulent, luxuious feel dominated by polished brass, glass and black marble. Enormous windows connect the indoor and outdoor dining areas, while no wall separates the indoor dining area from the kitchen. Chandelliers of incandescent bulbs cast a soft yellow light over the spaces.
The menu at Tavola is a mixture of classics and modern dishes with a pervasive focus on using quality ingredients. They source both local organic fruits and vegetables as well as authentic Italian products. Breakfast and lunch dishes include pastries, soups, salads and sandwiches, as well as some classics, all made with a focus on natural flavors.
The dinner menu begins with a mouthwatering array of starters, which include cold cut and cheese platters. The Tavola Signature (VND450,000), their most popular starter, includes an assortment of thinly-sliced and delecate cured meats, three types of cheese, and bed of garden herbs and a side of bread and honey. Served warm and perfectly Instagrammable, this is more than enough for two people to get started.
Further down the menu, you’ll find a selection of gourmet authentic italian pizzas, handmade pasta and risotto, and Tavola’s signature fish and meat mains. In an establishment with unimpeachable quality and attention to detail, the Tagliata di Manzo (VND900,000), a sliced ribeye steak, is a guaranteed winner. Lightly seasoned and gently seared, the focus of this dish is the meat itself, rather than a contrived sauce of some sort. It is served beneath thinly shaved sheets of parmigiano reggiano and on a bed of rocket, and comes with sides of steamed zuccini and twice-fried chips.
Tavola is an ideal place for lovers of fine Italian food, stunning interiors, or anyone in need of an elegant evening away from the noise of the city. Besides the open dining room and outdoor seating on the first floor, there are larger rooms upstairs that can be reserved for large groups. After dinner, the chef comes around to the table to pay his respects, and you will be eager to pay yours as well. For an authentic Italian oasis in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, pull up a chair at Tavola.
Images by Vy Lam