With a newly renovated Opera bar, main dining room and private dining room, and verandah, diners now have more room to enjoy the comfortable ambiance and delicious food.
One of Opera’s assets has always been its ability to attract customers who are not staying in the hotel. And the newer, brighter, fresher version of this top-notch Italian restaurant is no different. Part of the reason is its location — just off the lobby on the ground floor. Another reason is the ambience. There is something homely about this trattoria-style restaurant, something that makes you feel as if you’ve gone to Italy for your meal.
Enter Opera and the first part of this multi-space eatery that will gain your attention is The Pastry Boutique. Displaying colourful macarons, and mouthwatering desserts, macarons go for VND280,000* for a box of six, a mix of chocolate and nut-filled cookies cost VND130,000 for a small box, and cakes are VND150,000 a slice. These sweets and desserts are made fresh daily by the hotel’s in-house pastry chef Kim Narae. The restaurant’s wine selection is also on display, which makes the perfect backdrop to the Opera Bar — a small and intimate space perfect for meetings or a much-needed tete-a-tete.
The restaurant has an east-meets-west interior, mixing Western influence with Vietnamese design. In the main dining room, half of the wall on the right is adorned with wooden etchings symbolic of Vietnamese culture. The furniture is a mix-and-match of modern and traditional, and the wide floor-to-ceiling windows on the Opera verandah flood the restaurant with sunlight.
Step in a bit further and enter the white doors to the main dining room. The open kitchen is in the middle, so diners can have a complete view of how their meal is prepared. The private dining room, which can seat up to 14 people, is found at the back of the main dining area.
With the aim of giving customers the complete Italian experience, Opera Restaurant kitchen is headed by Italian chef Matteo Fracalossi. With experience working at a two-star Michelin restaurant, chef Matteo takes diners on a culinary journey across Italy. The menu offers uncomplicated yet satisfying dishes perfect for all three meals of the day, and even the in-betweens.
The restaurant’s signature dishes include the appetizer San Daniele e burrata (VND410,000). It is served with their own dough recipe. The saltiness of the ham isn’t overpowering and goes well with the burrata, and each bite is best topped with a semi-dried tomato. Another favourite is the fregola sarda ai frutti de mare (VND390,000), a staple dish in Sardinia. It is a mixture of lobster stock, seafood, garlic, parsley, and homemade butter. For a non-seafood lover, the fregola is surprisingly good — fresh and light. The branzino all’ acqua pazza (VND650,000) is a scene-stealer. It looks as good in the pictures as it tastes. The term acqua pazza is literally translated as ‘crazy water.’ It is a Neapolitan way of poaching fish. Opera Restaurant’s version of this fresh and easy dish is cooked in a tomato-based sauce topped with cherry tomatoes, black olives and capers.
Another feature worth trying in this restaurant is their homemade balsamic mixture. The balsamic dressing is simple, yet flavourful. It’s a great complement for their crispy-on-the-outside but soft-and-airy on the inside focaccia. It is served while waiting for the main dishes to arrive.
With a comfortable atmosphere and satisfying dishes, it is no surprise that Opera Restaurant gets packed for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so it’s best to book in advance. Their lunch set is available from 11.30am to 2pm and a two-course meal costs VND420,000; three courses go for VND460,000. Serving up food that is ideal for sharing, dinner at Opera is a perfect option for family and friends.
PHOTOS BY BAO ZOAN