The warm atmosphere in this pizzeria is complemented by steaming pizzas straight out of a wood-fired oven, and is housed in a casual setting, with red brick walls sporting pictures of Tintin, and a soundtrack that could come out of a Quentin Tarantino movie.
Cheese, Tomatoes and Dough
On arriving we were taken to the second floor by an attentive waitress who spoke fluent English, and sat at a table overlooking Au Co on one side, and an outside dining area on the other that was hosting a party of around 20 guests.
There’s no appetizer menu yet, though this is currently being designed by the former owner of Daluva restaurant, Shahar Lubin, and is expected to appear in the near future, alongside additions to the existing menu such as lasagna, tortellini, and a range of salads.
Our appetizer took the shape of a 34cm Margarita pizza (VND160,000), topped with a generous amount of high-quality Fior di Latte mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil and fresh basil. The mozzarella, tomato and basil were of equally strong flavour and mix to make an unforgettable eat.
The restaurant’s Belgian owner, Kevin Boudreaux, takes pride in the fact that all of the dough and pasta is homemade using fresh ingredients, and while currently most of their cheese is imported from Italy, they’ve already begun making it on site, and plan on eventually making all of their cheese themselves.
Cooking time for all pizzas is two minutes, and they’re served piping hot, on a thin, crispy base, with an airy crust.
“Because we use a wood-fire oven, the best time to come is around 8.30pm,” says Kevin. “This is when the oven has had a chance to heat up; that’s when the pizza is at its best.”
Refreshments, Pizza 'n Ice Cream
For a bit of refreshment we ordered a Tay beer (VND80,000) from Furbrew brewery, and a glass of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon (VND120,000). The wine list is short and easy to digest, offering a selection of new and old-world wines by the bottle ranging from VND700,000 to VND1.3 million. A glass of the house white or red cost VND110,000 and VND120,000 respectively.
Next we ordered the Raffaello pizza (VND180,000), another whopper of a pizza, this time topped with tomato, mozzarella, spicy salami Calabrese piccante and a nice touch of red bell pepper.
As with the earlier offering, each ingredient presented a strong flavour, and the spicy salami makes this a real treat for anyone who likes their food with a bit of a kick.
After this was the clams fettuccine pasta (VND180,000), made up of homemade pasta cooked al dente, a generous amount of clams, white wine and fresh parsley sauce, topped with extra-virgin olive oil.
The clams were soft and their flavour balanced well with the parsley sauce and white wine present in the dish, and while they’re still in their shells, the extra elbow work is well worth it. The dish is a reasonably priced alternative to the pizzas (or a sizeable side for one, depending on how you look at things).
For dessert we chose the dame blanche (VND70,000); homemade vanilla ice cream made from real vanilla beans, buried in fresh cream and presented with a jug of Belgian chocolate sauce.
“Often people come in here just to eat the ice cream,” says Kevin. “We use more cream than milk, and the ice-cream is denser than gelato.”
The Road Ahead
Pizza Belga has already established a strong reputation for its food and service. With upcoming additions to the food and drinks menu, and plans to produce even more of their own ingredients, it looks like they could easily expand outside of Hanoi.
Pizza Belga is located at 225 Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Opening hours are 6pm to 11pm, Wednesday to Sunday.
PHOTOS BY TEIGUE JOHN BLOKPOEL