Elijah Ferrian takes a tour of Tuscany at ‘NAMO’s second concept focussing on fantastic grilled fare and a comfortable ambience. Photos by Vinh Dao.

You know ‘NAMO for their Neapolitan pizza, but after experiencing their second concept, you will know them for the kind of cuisine and service that you would be getting in the rolling countryside of north-central Italy.

‘NAMO opened this second location as their first Tuscan-themed concept. They don’t want to be luxury or fine dining. They are simply looking to be a casual place that focusses on rustic Italian fare coming off of their custom-built wood-fired grill. The layout is open and relaxed, reflecting the colour and energy of Florence and the Tuscany region.

Head chef Ivan Barone, a native Italian with over ten years experience in Tuscany, marries his childhood spent preparing handmade pastas with local grandmothers, with the electric energy of Ho Chi Minh City’s hunger for authentic global cuisine.

One thing you’ll notice straight away is the fantastic service from the staff. The entire team is attentive, warm and genuinely helpful with guiding you on how to have an authentic and relaxed experience. Their service employees go through three months of in-depth training before they hit the floor and it shows.

They serve a wide variety of authentic Italian dishes at ‘NAMO Tuscan Grill, but they also take serious pride in the care that goes into their steaks. They dry age imported prime-cuts of beef for at least three weeks, and finish them with a fine American whiskey aging process for a taste unlike any other in Ho Chi Minh City.

Their bistecca alla fiorentina (VND190,000 per 100g), or ‘beefsteak Florentine style’, is perfectly cooked over their custom-built wood-fired grill following a simple seasoning of pure Italian olive oil, Himalayan pink sea salt and pepper. This is more than a perfect steak – it is an experience to be shared.

They also grill up a spicy brick-pressed chicken (VND390,000) seasoned with chilli and Tuscan herbs. It’s a favourite of the staff.

A medley of grilled sausages (VND380,000) ranging from chorizo, hot italian, lamb and duck is sure to please a table filled with fans of more exotic flavours and a variety to be shared amongst friends.

Crispy crab cakes (VND190,000) with a mildly spicy red bell pepper dip and arugula is a great way to start off any meal.

Don’t worry, there’s fantastic pasta here as well. Tuscan pork and beef ragu with handmade pici pasta (VND240,000) is a perfect representation of what Italian cuisine from this region is all about. Rustic, comforting and simple. When you think of being in the countryside hungrily waiting for your motherly host to serve you a dish, this is exactly what you’re expecting.

They focus on Italian wine, with glasses from VND125,000, sporting a lot of diverse reds from all over the Tuscany region.

‘NAMO Tuscan Grill also does a great set lunch time menu. Two courses for VND230,000, or three courses for VND299,000.   

146-148 Pasteur, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
TeL; 08 3822 1431
Open: Mon – Thu 11am to 10pm, Fri & Sat 11am to 11pm
www.namogrill.com