September’s Italian Food in Hanoi


A restaurant is a fantasy – A kind of living fantasy in which diners are the most important members of the cast. – Warner LeRoy

Cooking done with care is an act of love – Craig Claiborne


Special Main Course of the week – Petto oli Pollo Fritto Con Asparagi


I love that moment of dipping a spoon into a creamy Panna Cotta, the perfect dessert .


Pork Belly for a beautiful Friday night.10394621_351842848299764_2640162825828820302_n

“Special Italian food in Vietnam”

“Special Italian food in Vietnam”
5 of 5 starsReviewed August 16, 2014
I have been visiting il Faro with my girlfriend for our 3 years Anniversary. As in the photos, the restaurant revealed to be a great choice for a romantic dinner. The villa is located in a very quiet area close to the Tay Ho (West Lake) in Hanoi and it has a really charming look. We sat in the garden nicely furnished with Italian iron chairs and tables. Although I am Italian, I rarely eat in Italian restaurants since I cook anything by myself (including mozzarella, other cheeses or bread) however this try at Il Faro didn’t disappoint me. Me and my girlfriend shared the following menu:

Caprese salad: The salad was really nice with home-made (?) mozzarella (it had a nice texture, but a bit un-salty for my taste). The special touch was given by the sun-dried tomatoes that gave a special flavor to the dish

Mozzarella in Carrozza: This was for me the biggest surprise of the night! I am a fan of the traditional mozzarella in carrozza (with ham and mozzarella), but this variation made by the chef Nicola (Italian from Tuscany), really impressed me and it is definitively something I’ll reproduce myself. Instead of ham, the chef added anchovies to it and served aside a nice tomatoes and basil sauce. Really special!

Fusilli with Quail ragu and broad beans: The fusilli pasta were home-made and were perfectly cooked. As Neapolitan I was expecting a rich flavour ragu but I was pleasantly surprised by a very delicate taste, definitively different from the one I am used to.

Blu torched Salmon: the salmon was nicely served and prepared in a torched style that reminded me a bit of the Teriyaki Japanese cooking style. My girlfriend (Vietnamese) loved it.

Chocolate panna cotta: The panna cotta was very nice and I enjoyed the crunchy crumble it was served with, however from my experience living in Asia, I’d suggest it to be less sweet as Vietnamese people enjoy blender sweets.

Wine: We had a nice bottle of Sicilian Pinot, the best choice for me as I love the fruity Southern Italian wines.

Service: The service was very nice with the chef coming to meet us to get our feedback and the manager having a very friendly attitude. It wasn’t too crowded yesterday but nothing wrong happened. I’d suggest to have one stable waiter in the garden for an easier serving to the outside customers.

Overall, it was a very nice experience and I’ll definitively come back to check the little fine tunings and enjoy other recipes from the menu.

Visited August 2014
5 of 5 stars Value
5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
4 of 5 stars Service
4 of 5 stars Food

World of Cats – Fishing Cat

Water Cats in Vietnam

Petit Hanoian

Cats are afraid of the water. However, in Vietnam, there is a cat species which is good cat swimming and fishing …

Fishing Cat (scientific name – Prionailurus viverrinus) is a medium-sized wild cat. It lives in South and Southeast Asia, includes mangrove forests in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam.

Regarding the shape, Fishing cat is very similar with the wildcat but it is bigger. Like keen swimmers, rather than hunting terrestrial prey such as other species of cat, fishing cats search for food under water, especially fish. They can grab their prey from above, also can dive deeply to the bottom of the water to chase fish. Kittens are familiar with the water when they are very small.

Currently, due to excessive hunting for meat, fur or pet and destruction of wetland habitats make this unique cat species at risk of extinction if they are not protected well.

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Venetian recipe: Baccalà Mantecato – Whipped Cod Mousse

news-dried_salted_cod_fishYou cannot talk about Venetian food without talking about the ‘chicheto’, that wonderful ritual bite to eat with a sparkling glass of Spritz or an Ombra, a glass of local wine. And you cannot talk about the ‘chicheto’ without mentioning the Baccalà Mantecato: Dried Atlantic cod, soaked, poached and whipped into a mousse, then spread on a slice of baguette or grilled polenta.


700 gramms of unsalted Baccalà (stockfish already soaked) or if unable to source the dried fish, fresh Cod maybe used. 2 Cloves of garlic, half a cup of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.


Place the Baccalà in a large saucepan and cover with cold water, add garlic and bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until the fish is tender. Drain the fish and keep aside a little of the water, remove the garlic and the skin and any bones, then place in a bowl. While the fish is still hot begin whipping the fish into a cream, using a wooden spoon and at the same time add a thin slow drizzle of olive oil. Continue whipping until the fish reaches a creamy mousse like consistency. This is easiest with two people, otherwise just pause now and then to add the olive oil in stages. You might need to add a spoon or two of the cooking water if it is too dense, this will depend on the quality of the stock fish and how long it was soaked prior to poaching. After season to taste with fresh ground black pepper and sea salt.

Serve on Polenta or slices of Baguette, garnish with chopped parsley leaves scattered on top and a little ground nutmeg.


Italian Food Tour in Hanoi – This weeks menu

menu3Venetian cuisine is varied with many traditional recipes from the famous lagoons and the countryside close by. This week we have chosen some favourites and some of the lesser known but very highly prized dishes from the Veneto region.

Stracetti Al Radicchio, fine slivers of tender veal cooked with a chicory leaf marinate. Crostini Di Zucca In Saor, marinated pumpkin with sun-dried black olives.

Risotto Al Ragu Di Quaglia E Funghi, a delicious risotto with a quail and white mushroom ragu. Bigolli All’Anatra, fresh egg pasta with a duck ragu.

Agnello In Crema Di Asparagi, Lamb fillet with an asparagus cream. Fegato Alla Veneziana, finely sliced veal liver cooked in the venetian style with lemon and gently stewed onions.

Sorbetto Vino e Frutta, a sorbet of wine and fresh fruits. Crespelle con Fragole e Cioccolato, light crepes with a strawberry and chocolate garnish.

10609531_349188588565190_5960174740529984396_nCelebrating the Veneto region with many delicious dishes from Venice and Treviso.

“Italians will appreciate this very much”

“Italians will appreciate this very much”
4 of 5 starsReviewed August 10, 2014
I am no Italian food connoisseur. I can only say that I was happy with my food. We had an Italian cured meat platter, a Ravioli dish and a crepe. Asorted homemade bread basket was complimentary.We only had fruit juice so can’t comment on their wine. Our bill was 650k VND.

My impression though is that everything food wise is on the top standard so Italian food lovers and Italians will appreciate it very much. Along with a la carte menu they also had a special menu which changes every week. In our case it was a menu specialize with Northern Italian Cuisine near Florence……

I originally asked if they did Lasagne. They didn’t because the pasta can only keep for a day so unless there is specific demand it’s not too cost effective. I appreciate their honesty and integrity towards fresh ingredients….I also wanted Risotto but they only had 1 and it was a starter dish so I decided against it. Food arrived around 20 minutes after order so reasonable. Waiter and waitress had good attitudes and service was good. Their English could improve but it was no major issue for me. My partner was Vietnamese. A couple of the staff could do with wearing proper uniforms but again I wasn’t too disheartened by it. There were a couple of bits inside the dining area where they could do with a lick of paint but considering the restaurant is fairly new I am in a sense happy that they focus on serving good food for now. I am sure they will fix those teething problems.

I was happy in the end. One to check out if you are in the Tay Ho area.

Visited August 2014
4 of 5 stars Value
4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
5 of 5 stars Service
5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful?Yes
Jess A, Manager at Il Faro del Mediterraneo Restaurant, responded to this review, August 13, 2014
thank you so much for your review & feedbacks steve, i will make sure as soon as possible that these things are corrected.
hope to see you soon
best regards jess

Italian Food Tour in Hanoi – August – The Veneto Region

cucina_03cucina_07cucina_11Il Faro Italian Restaurant is celebrating the Veneto cuisine with a dedicated menu. Veneto is a rich region under many aspects, above all the gastronomic one. It’s easy to see why, given that Venice for centuries traded with distant lands in the East and the Venetians integrated the use of exotic spices into their recipes. The 4 key points are polenta, rice, cod and beans.

Some favourite Venetian Dishes: Sarde in Saor, sweet and sour sardines. Bigoli in Salsa, thick coarse spaghetti seasoned with a sardine and onion sauce. Risi e Bisi, risotto with beans and Bruscandoli, radicchio from Treviso which has many delicious varieties. Baccalà Mantecato, a creamy soft Cod mousse served with polenta. Fegato alla Veneziana, liver cooked with figs. Trotta in Gradela, delicately flavoured grilled trout, Filette di Coregone alla Gardesana, white fish baked with capers and anchovy fillets. Triglie al Cartoccio, reef mullets wrapped and coated with spices creating a heady burst of aromas. Frittelle, sweet fried dumplings and many more traditional Venetian dishes.

The dishes on offer each day will be subject to the fresh ingredients available locally in Hanoi.

Molise Recipe – Minestra Maritata, Wedding Soup

minestra_maritata-300x225This delicious traditional recipe from Molise is for a wedding soup with meatballs, chicken, endive and escarole.


For the meatballs – 1 lb of ground beef or veal, 1 egg, half cup of bread crumbs, 1 clove of minced garlic, sea salt and black pepper. For the soup – I chicken (cleaned. heart, liver etc removed), 1 escarole head and 1 endive (or use other greens such as cabbage, kale or spinach) 2 medium chopped onions, half a cup of chopped celery, half a cup of chopped carrots, 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese .


In a large soup pot place the chicken, chopped onion, celery, carrot and a pinch of salt then cover with water and simmer for 1 hour. Prepare the meat balls: Mix the ground meat, egg and bread crumbs, garlic, salt and pepper, and shape into little balls, then bake the meat balls in the oven for 25 minutes at 350 F or until browned. Boil the endive and escarole until tender then drain and set aside. Remove the chicken from the pot and bone the chicken and return the meat to the pot. Add the meatballs and endive and escarole and heat, then serve with grated parmesan cheese and fresh ground black pepper with crostini-toasted bread garnished with olive oil.