The capital’s panini specialists are wowing diners with a new range of flavours. Words by Marissa Carruthers, photography by Rudi Towiro. 

Chiara De Lucia knows that home is where the heart is. Her family philosophy is a key ingredient in Da Sandro Panini Bar’s success, with the Italian paying testament to friends and family by naming each dish after them. The restaurant’s name is also a tribute to her late grandfather, nicknamed Da Sandro, who had a passion for cooking and was behind several of the recipes.

“My granddad was always making paninis and his motto was ‘simple and delicious’,” De Lucia recalls. “That’s what we do here – provide high quality food that has a few simple but delicious ingredients.”

Since opening its doors last October, Da Sandro has brought a traditional taste of Italy to Cambodia. The clue is in the title as the eatery specialises in freshly baked paninis and toasts packed with quality imported produce from an internationally renowned Italian supplier, the Ferrari and Visma Group.

As its popularity has grown, the menu has followed suit with a range of hot dishes and platters added. Now customers can try vegetable lasagne ($7.50) with a mix of seven varying vegetables, pasta salads and platters of cold cut meats ($5/$8), cheeses ($9/$15.50) and a mix of both ($11/$18.50). 

“All of the dishes are from family recipes that we used to eat at home,” De Lucia says. “Everything we make here is healthy and fresh. The bread and ciabatta is baked at a bakery every day and has no preservatives. The vegetables are bought daily from the market and all the cold cuts are from one of the best producers.”

The Nora salad ($6) is a new addition and fine example of how a few quality ingredients can explode when combined. A Sicilian and Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese called Primo Sale and chunks of pan-fried chicken breast sit on top of a bed of plump baked cherry tomatoes, grilled vegetables and black olives.The Tina panini ($8.50) is also a treat. The filling is made of paper-thin strips of bresaola – a speciality air-dried beef – with lashings of shaved Parmesan and rocket to add peppery kick. The Vale toast ($4.50) is proof that simple is best, with ham, mozzarella and fresh tomatoes making a winning combination.

As well as adding to the food offerings, De Lucia has put more emphasis on creating an atmosphere where customers can relax with friends over a glass of wine or beer after work. In the evenings, lounge music fills the venue and the recently launched aperitivo evening sees Da Sandro transformed on the first Thursday of every month, with a free buffet, live music and DJs.

162Eo Street 63, Phnom Penh.
Tel: 010 644 987.
Open daily from 11am to 9pm. Delivery is offered.