Quality sandwiches and a relaxed setup make this deli a fine addition to the Thao Dien dining scene. By Dana Filek-Gibson. Photos by Vinh Dao.
Like many Saigon expats, the owners of The North End Deli, District 2’s newest hangout, landed in the business by accident. The pair, an Italian and an American, opened the deli out of their own selfish desire for a good sandwich – one that didn’t skimp on ingredients. As it turns out, everyone else was craving the same thing.
The resulting open-front shop, now a few months old, may be modest – no more than two outdoor tables and a pair of bar-style countertops – but the atmosphere is laid-back and its well-lit display case entices passersby to step inside.
The menu currently features 13 signature creations as well as a build-your-own option, most of which employ the shop’s nearly two dozen European imported meats and cheeses.
For sandwiches, tuck into the Hot Italian (VND 139,000), a baguette packed with smoked ham, pepper salami and coppa cold cuts as well as melted provolone cheese, tomato, onion, hot pepper and hot oil. The resulting combination is a filling, carnivorous feast with just the right amount of spice. Vegetarians can also appreciate North End’s menu, thanks to a mouthwatering Grilled Vegetable sandwich (VND 119,000). In deli-driven spots like this, it’s easy to make the meatless options an afterthought but this light, flavourful sandwich – filled with grilled eggplant, zucchini, onion, leek and goat cheese on focaccia bread – gives the rest of the menu a run for its money.
That said, North End Deli aims to be more than just a sandwich shop. In the future, the deli also plans to begin offering salads, lasagna and other meals. Already, a single-serving Fusilli Pasta Salad (VND 60,000) is available as an equally delicious alternative or a perfect side dish to complement your sandwich.
For co-owner Attilio Bottero, such a simple menu means that top-quality ingredients are key. North End Deli sources its produce from Dalat and uses other reputable local suppliers for an array of ingredients, including bread, desserts, cider and hot sauce. The deli’s laid-back approach seems to be working well; the shop is routinely open into the wee hours, attracting a late-night crowd which takes advantage not only of the food but also the drink menu, on which all cocktails and spirits cost under VND 100,000. If you have time to spare, enjoying a sandwich and a drink at one of North End Deli’s outdoor tables, a prime people-watching location, is a perfect way to spend an afternoon.