I dragged myself away from my rice-noodle-chopstick existence for a meal in another world last weekend. Out near West Lake, a green building housing a new Italian restaurant has sprouted. I'm not sure who's behind it though I must say there hasn't been an Italian in sight on my two visits so far. Not that that means anything. Or maybe it does.
A distinct lack of Italian passion for food and the dining experience is the pre-dominant atmosphere at Cielo (Heaven). To be fair, the food is palatable and pleasant enough on the eye. Sixteen pizza choices, Italian in style with minimalist ingredients, include proscuitto e funghi, tonno e cipolla and quattro formaggio. Gnocchi, tagliatelle, ravioli, tortellini, pappardelle and lasagne feature in the homemade pasta section of the menu. An odd addendum at the back lists a page of Vietnamese Western standards like spring rolls, fried noodles with beef and mixed fried rice. Not sure what that's all about.
Even for the not so discerning diner (i.e. me), certain aspects are letting down the Italian side here. Calling on Antonio Carluccio and Stefano de Pieri both. In their absence, some simple advice from a gutter-grovelling Hanoi street-food muncher: get the white wine chilled before the customers arrive, dress the salad in the kitchen rather than sending cheap olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper on a fancy stand to the table and go easy with the salt in the pasta sauces. One more thing - the entire staff sitting on their Khyber Passes is not a good look!
A bit of sorting out on all fronts and Cielo deserves another go by my reckoning.
Starters 10,000 - 50,000VND (USD62c-$3.10, AUD75c-$3.80), Pastas 45,000 - 70,000VND (USD$2.80-$4.40, AUD$3.40-$5.30), Pizzas 45,000 - 80,000VND (USD$2.80-$5, AUD$3.40-$6.05), Wine 190,000 - 450,000VND (USD$11.85-$28.05, AUD$14.35-$34)
172 Xuan Dieu
Tay Ho District