There are plenty of pizzerias in Ha Noi, but if you are looking for a really good Neapolitan pizza here, The Nomad Quynh can guarantee Belga will be one of your best bets.
Fresh: A very nice starter – Beetroot salad made with candied walnuts, beetroot and gorgonzola dressing. VNS Photo The Nomad Quynh
Pizza, along with spaghetti, are perhaps the most well-known Italian dishes in Viet Nam. However, Italians might be sad to hear that the most common type of pizza most Vietnamese are accustomed to is in fact the American one, typically served in American franchises such as Pizza Hut and Al Fresco’s. While it might be up to personal preference, and American style pizzas are still good, my favourite is still the traditional wood-fired Neapolitan style, and the place that serves it best in Ha Noi for me is Pizza Belga.
Located in the expat heavy area of Tây Hồ, Belga might not be the most convenient restaurant to get to if you’re coming from the city centre, but I can guarantee you the trip is worth it.
Spread over several floors of a spacious building at 225 Âu Cơ Road, this pizzeria can easily accommodate big groups. Besides indoor space, there is also a nice terrace on the first floor, and a small balcony on the second if you prefer to sit outside.
The menu is quite simple and straightforward with only one page. There is only salad for starters, pizza and pasta for the main course, plus some dessert. I have always liked simplicity in a restaurant, since most of the time it’s a good sign that whatever few options they have will be high quality. Indeed, the descriptions of each are already mouth-watering.
For starter, there are only two choices of vegetarian salad, however both of them sound interesting: Goat cheese salad (VNĐ160,000) with greens, arugula, toasted cashews, fried goats cheese and orange dressing; and the Beetroot salad (VNĐ130,000) with candied walnuts, beetroot and gorgonzola dressing. I decided to go for the Beetroot. It was indeed a perfect starter – all the ingredients were fresh, and the cheese dressing was of ample quantity, and matched perfectly with the other ingredients. I would definitely recommend this one, although I’m equally tempted to try the Goat cheese salad next time around.
Next came the star of the show: an authentic wood-fired Neapolitan style pizza. This style made easily recognizable by the signature crust made with fresh hand-made dough, which produces an airy, slightly crispy rim, and a thin, soft centre that droops when you pick a piece up by hand.
There are around 10 choices of wood-fired pizza, plus a few chef’s specials that are updated frequently. We opted for a half 4 formaggi (with tomatoes, mozzarella, gouda, parmesan, gorgonzola) and half capricciosa (tomatoes, mozzarella, pancetta, mushroom, black olives and artichoke). Our pizza arrived looking perfect, and upon taking the first bite, I have no doubt this is one of the best ones I have had in Ha Noi. The crust is light and airy, and we could easily tell all the ingredients were fresh, of high quality and came with a good balance of each which is not something all pizzerias succeed to achieve. The price is also very reasonable, with each pizza ranging from VNĐ160,000 to VNĐ250,000.
From Italia with love: Our delicious Neapolitan style pizza with half 4 formaggi and half capricciosa. VNS Photo The Nomad Quynh
The real prize: If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss their Dame Blanche dessert – homemade vanilla ice cream topped with Belgian chocolate sauce. VNS Photo The Nomad Quynh
The man himself: The busy chef next to his pizza oven. VNS Photo The Nomad Quynh
I always make a point to save my stomach for dessert, especially here at Belga where the three choices are impossible to resist, especially for chocolate lovers. You have the Dame Blanche (VNĐ90,000) which is homemade vanilla ice cream topped with Belgian chocolate sauce, the chocolate tart (VNĐ70,000) or chocolate mousse (VNĐ60,000), all are homemade using Belgian chocolate. I had my eyes on the Dame Blanche since the beginning of the meal, and it didn’t disappoint. The homemade ice cream was light, refreshing and not too sweet, while the chocolate sauce added a nice touch. This dessert came in a generous portion of two scoops and is perfect for sharing.
Aside from the above-mentioned dishes, Belga also offers homemade pasta (fettuccine), typically cooked the Italian al-dente way unless specified otherwise. Every month a special limited type of pizza is served, where the chefs get their creative juices going.
Regarding drinks, besides a few wine options with price by glass from VNĐ110,000 to 120,000, Belga offers an interesting craft beer list. Craft beer has become trendy in Viet am recently, with a lot of new local breweries opening in town. Here at Belga, apart from the craft beer made by other breweries, they also offer their own in-house brew called La Sax – a Belgian blonde made from authentic Trappist yeast with crisp, grainy character and a creamy head (VNĐ100,000 per glass). This is quite a refreshing and easy-to-drink beer, worth a go for craft beer veterans or novices.
The service is also worth noting. Their staff are professional, friendly and all speak good English. I was impressed when near the end of our meal, the Vietnamese manager came, asking how we were doing and apologizing for having been busy and not being able to tend to our table earlier. It was not something I experience often in the city, and shows they are serious and passionate about what they do.
Belga’s biggest disadvantage is perhaps the location, which is in Tây Hồ and quite far from the city centre, meaning most of their frequent customers are those living nearby, especially expats. They offer delivery service as well but only within 5km so as not to compromise the quality of the food. If you are truly a pizza fan, or if you love a good, authentic Italian traditional pizza and do not mind a bit of travelling, give them a try and you won’t be disappointed.
Address: 225 Âu Cơ Road, Quảng An, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội
Tel: 0167 301 8883
Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday: 18.00 to 23.00;
Monday and Tuesday closed
Comment: Authentic Italian wood-fired pizzeria made with fresh and high quality ingredients. A must-try for all pizza fans.