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‘NAMO: Introducing the Flavors of Southern Italy to Saigon

'NAMO has quickly earned a stellar reputation for its authentic handmade Italian pastas that rely on fresh, imported ingredients. Under the guidance of their executive chef Ivan, the restaurant brings the flavors of southern Italy to Saigon.

Ivan has been the executive chef at 'NAMO since it's founding over two years ago and he recently sat down to explain where the inspiration for the restaurant’s many dishes comes from. Ivan’s love of food lead him to the famed CFPA culinary school in Casargo, Italy, 5-star kitchens, such as Villa D Esteand now to Vietnam where he can share the lessons he learned in his grandmother’s kitchen.

'NAMO handmakes most of its pastas. Intimately feeling and responding to the dough, the chefs shape each type of pasta, adding salt and imparting love into each loop, fold and string just as has been done in Italian households for centuries. Ivan shares that his “secret recipe” makes 'NAMO’s dough stand out – it is always “al huevo” or as Ivan explains “needs eggs” as opposed to additions of bland water. Guests can witness the careful process that makes these flavorful noodles thanks to 'NAMO’s open kitchen.

'NAMO pays similar attention to its ingredients. As delicious as they are, Vietnam’s near limitless fresh vegetables, grains and fruits are not always suited to Italy’s unique flavors, and therefore along with their pizza ovens from Naples, 'NAMO imports yeast, flour and various vegetables and spices. And the most important import is the San Marzano DOP tomatoes. Grown on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, the bright, oblong tomatoes make for a far more flavorful sauce than what many are familiar, courtesy of their sweet, non-acidic flavors.

Some people in Vietnam may have an incomplete understanding of Italian food. As Ivan explains, “My goal is to introduce the authentic tastes of southern Italy to Saigon.” Ivan adds that people should abandon their fears of carbs when eating pasta because they are important “stress-relievers,” especially when prepared as carefully as he does, resting the dough for at least 24 hours before being made into pasta. They immediately think pizza and spaghetti, but don't know about the rich assortment of unique, complex dishes. For example, as Ivan is proud to reveal, there are thousands of types of pasta, and it is ‘NAMO’s goal to help introduce people to some of these less famous delights.

At ‘NAMO, customers can explore this cuisine such as the Fusilli Pesto, which combines medium-sized corkscrew noodles with rich basil pesto sauce, green beans and roasted tomatoes. ‘NAMO pairs linguini noodles (a name meaning “little tongues” in Italian), which are long flat noodles, with succulent, spicy, lobster in another favorite dish. But the most unusual and popular of all ‘NAMO’s handmade pastas is the Crab Tagliolini Al Nero. Fresh squid ink is used to add color and subtle flavor to the long ribbon-like pasta which is served with savory crab ragu.

‘NAMO always places the customer first and one of its aims is to illuminate diners on aspects of Italian cuisine. 'NAMO caters to diners by asking guests for feedback on their meals and what changes or additions they would like to see to the menu. Always eager to be creative in the kitchen, Ivan loves creating new dishes and has just debuted a number of new dishes, highlighted by cold angel hair pasta with uni, Hokkaido scallops and salmon caviar. 

A visit to 'NAMO is not only a chance to enjoy a warm, relaxed atmosphere perfect for an intimate date, celebration, or casual meal with friends and family, but it is an opportunity to experience authentic southern Italian cuisine in the heart of Saigon.  

NAMO Restaurant's website

028 3822 7988

Operating hours: Sun - Thu 11:00am - 10:00pm, Fri - Sat 11:00am - 11:00pm 

74/6 Hai Ba Trung, D.1, Ho Chi Minh City