As a big fan of Robin Williams and an even bigger fan of pizza, I’ve always meant to try Italian restaurant, Good Morning Vietnam. Named after the iconic film, it’s one of three branches – the other two are in Hanoi and Nha Trang – and still employs Italian chefs to do their thing.
The Hoi An restaurant, on Le Loi, has clocked up quite a reputation for its pizza. And it’s a firm favorite for tourists craving carbs.
We visited early on a Saturday evening, before it got busy – but the tourists started trickling in around 6pm. Mostly couples but one or two solo travelers, who looked delighted at the prospect of good pizza, a glass of wine, and an ideal vantage point for people-watching. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday evening.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t blown away by either the food or the atmosphere of this place, if I’m completely honest. Sure, the pizza was pretty good – but I’ve had better in Hoi An. The spaghetti bolognese was tasty, but not really anything special.
On the other hand, the tiramisu we shared for dessert was delicious – with a proper whack of liquor, unlike the other versions I’ve tried in town. (The other dessert options looked great, too!)
And maybe if we’d tried the calzone, which looked very impressive, I would’ve felt differently. But I just couldn’t get overly excited about our meal there. A lot of this was down to the atmosphere of the place, which felt somber and hushed – about as far from an Italian trattoria as you could get. Now, granted, we were there early … but even when the place filled up it had a decidedly lackluster vibe.
It all reminded me of Pizza Express (a chain of Italian restaurants in the UK), which does have undoubtedly tasty pizza … but without any pizzazz. A little sullen, a little dull. It would satisfy your cravings for all things carby, but I wouldn’t say it sets the scene for a special date night.
But for authentic Italian in Hoi An there aren’t many options. At Good Morning Vietnam you’ll find antipasti and home-made pastas not found elsewhere and a range of meat and fish mains (that we didn’t try) that have an authentic Italian preparation. At the risk of repeating myself, the food is solid without being spectacular – it’s the vibe that disappoints.
Still, I did like the retro film posters adorning the walls, the 50s-style placemats and the carafe of red wine, served cold. Plus, the upstairs area, although quiet when we visited, would probably be fun to visit with a group of friends.
Many expats love Good Morning Vietnam. And during our dinner we spoke with one lady who had been back three times in ten days – she loved the pizza that much! It’s definitely a nice, safe environment if you’re travelling alone, somewhere to kick off the dust from town and relax with food you’ve perhaps been craving for a while. There are nice extras, too – for instance, GF options for pasta – and with large pizzas starting at 150,000vnd, it’s not unreasonable for a Western restaurant in the Old Town.
I probably wouldn’t return again, for dinner anyway, but it has to be said there are many who do. I might go back to sit on the upstairs terrace with a glass of red however, and take in the sights from below. Or return for dessert and coffee and say “good morning” to Vietnam with a nice kick of sugar and caffeine. The way it should be!