Ai Capone’s woodfire pizza could compete with any pizzeria in Italy; it’s that good. In fact, it is some of the best pizza we’ve had, so it will come as no surprise that this Vientiane restaurant is owned by an Italian chef.
The pizza dough and crust is crusty yet still light and moist inside, and when it comes to the quality imported toppings, the sky’s the limit – though so is the price. How does a pizza with buffalo milk mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, prosciutto and Parmesan sound? However, simple folk will appreciate that a generously sized pizza margherita is only 48,000 kip and the familiar you-can’t-go-wrong vegetarian, ham and mushroom, or quattro stagioni four cheese pizza are a reasonable 60,000 kip.
The clean and contemporary white and black decor is slick but classic Italian tunes still warble through the air. The service is prompt and professional, and there’s several native Italians in the kitchen. Diners can indulge in the gamut of Italian favourites including antipasti, cheeses, cured meats, homemade pasta, risotto, gnocchi, insalatas, carne and fish.
For pasta, choose from nine kinds of shapes and add a sauce, anything from a simple tomato (48,000 kip) to vongole sauce with clams, garlic and chilli (88,000). And of course, the menu also includes lasagne and ravioli. If you think making pasta is fail proof, think again. This is sticky rice nation and if you’ve ever ordered spaghetti at a backpacker restaurant in Laos, you’ll understand this and appreciate a perfectly cooked carbonara even more.
The fish and meat is where it will really put a dent into your stash of kip, as it is all imported. Fish with white wine and lime jus is 148,000 kip, while a steak will set you back 298,000 kip. Like its neighbour Aria, their wine menu reads like an encyclopaedia of Italian wines, though a glass of their decent house wine is a bargain 28,000 kip. Finish the experience off with a homemade gelato, sorbet and a grappa.
If that sounds like its out of your budget, like all restaurants of this calibre, they offer a fantastic deal for lunch: a salad, pizza or pasta and dessert for only 53,000 kip. It’s outstanding value. The menu changes daily and sometimes they post the day’s special on their Facebook page.
Ai Capone is located on Francois Ngin Road, beside Acqua and Aria.
Address: Francois Ngin Rd, Vientiane
T: (020) 5991 0888
Coordinates (for GPS): 102º36'16.32" E, 17º57'53.42" N
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Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you’ll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
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