After the releasing Round 1 of The Search for Hanoi’s Best Delivery Pizza, the online Hanoi community had taken to the Facebook comments to either laud or berate Plates of Hanoi for our results. “Some actual honesty for a change!’ praised one pizza aficionado. “Daluva is an absolute disgrace,” wrote another. “You’re doing god’s work! Keep up this noble cause,” encouraged a third.
Not even five flights of stairs could diminish the judges’ excitement. The office was abuzz with anticipation.
The intensity of the reactions further fueled Plates of Hanoi’s commitment to the cause. Armed with a new list of crowd-favorite pizza delivery spots, we put out the call for pizza enthusiasts across the city to join our carb-fueled research.
At 7p.m. on a Monday evening, a flock of pizza lovers arrived at the Plates of Hanoi office, eager to stuff their stomachs in the name of science. Their prompt arrival was truly telling in a city where being on-time generally means arriving 20 minutes late. Neighbors gawked at the eager revelers, and the unfortunate pizza delivery person who arrived alongside the group cringed as she was engulfed by their energy.
Not even five flights of stairs could diminish the judges’ excitement. The office was abuzz with anticipation. Score sheets in hand, the judges were ready to dole out their honest ratings to the pizzas represented that night.
People of Hanoi, we continue with Round 2 of The Search for Hanoi’s Best Delivery Pizza.
Veggie Pizza (350k VND)
Crust 3/5 Sauce 3/5 Topping 3/5 Appearance/Smell 3/5 Overall 3/5
NYC Pizza has a devoted following in Hanoi. Facebook commenters were adamant of its superiority, but our pizza judges offered mixed reviews. Brooke Lyn, a native New Yorker, stated, “This New York City Pizza brings me back home.” But Miguel, another reviewer, didn’t quite agree. “I sadly wasn’t transported,” he said.
NYC Pizza takes inspiration from its namesake by offering both pizza by-the-slice and gigantic pies. We’re supposing that a box large enough to hold the entire pie would not fit on a motorbike, because our pizza arrived with individual slices stacked in two small boxes. Presentation-wise, this didn’t wow judges. “It looks like someone thought up the aesthetically perfect pizza but still fell short of the mark” commented Oliver while inspecting his slice. “Like it’s plastic or a show pizza,” agreed Katie.
NYC Pizza is new to the delivery game, only having begun this side of their business now that the Old Quarter isn’t flocked with backpackers and tourists, who represent the majority of their customers. Owner Matthew says the shift to delivery has gone well for them. “We try our best to keep the base crispy, which is a real issue with delivery pizza. We’ve put a piece of corrugated cardboard in the box to channel out the steam, and so the base doesn’t trap the moisture inside.”
NYC Pizza was the only pizza of the evening to maintain the integrity of their crust, thanks to their ingenious delivery hack.
NYC Pizza was the only pizza of the evening to maintain the integrity of their crust, thanks to their ingenious delivery hack. Matthew, along with his wife and business partner, Hanh, impressively learned their craft from a famous pizza maker in Manhattan, and have since committed to recreating the notorious taste at their shop in Hanoi. However, the crust’s flavor was not a winner with our judges. “It looks a bit like pita,” noted a reviewer who also hails from NYC. “Other than the size, I don’t see much resemblance to a New York slice.”
NYC Pizza had the best sauce to topping ratio of the night, but was found to be conservative with its cheese. Judges appreciated the abundance of toppings, with many noting that the onions added great texture. “The vegetables are succulent,” noted one judge, which seems to be a good representation of NYC Pizza’s philosophy: “Use the best ingredients you can, use local when possible, and it’s all about family.”
Matthew described to us how his and Hanh’s family is the driving force behind their hard work and success, from his mother-in-law creating sauces in the kitchen to his father-in-law and cousins working as the shippers and cashier.
Overall, our reviewers were satisfied but not ecstatic with the results. “The individual parts aren’t great, but combined they make a decent unified whole,” said Stephen. A number of commenters on Facebook praised NYC Pizza’s dipping sauces. Perhaps these make all the difference? They will definitely be making an appearance with our next NYC Pizza slice.
Stracciatella Pizza & Bianca Melanzane Pizza (190k and 180k VND)
Crust 4/5 Sauce 3/5 Topping 4/5 Appearance/Smell 4/5 Overall 4/5
The biggest surprise of the evening were the pies from the (confusingly spelled) restaurant, Pizziamoci. Upon opening the restaurant’s first delivery box, judges were in awe of the pie’s stunning, colorful presentation. A whispered, “It looks boujee,” was overheard as the judges leaned in to inspect the boxes’ contents.
“I feel like it's very rare to find salad on a veggie pizza,” said vegetarian and design fanatic, Sophie. “ It looks very classy.” But some of our judges refused to be swayed by a few artfully placed leaves. “Rocket always wins expats over,” stated Carly, noting the manic glee in some judges’ faces as they inspected a slice.
The rocket wasn’t the only topping that wowed judges. After taking a bite, Oliver cheerfully announced, “It seems as though some thought has gone into the fusion of topping flavors.” It was also noted that the Pizziamoci pies had the best cheese ratio of the night. Miguel, a cheese aficionado, said, “Cheese is expensive in Vietnam, and most places skimp on it because of that. But Pizziamoci didn’t.” It was a definite mark in the pizza’s favor.
A few of the reviewers found the crust to be doughy, but overall thought the pizza had a good balance of flavors. Stephen stated, “All of the elements were very strong and came together to create a strong finished product.”
Speaking with Pizzamoci’s owner, they were very pleased to learn of the pizza’s success. “I'm not a good cook but I have been able to interact and work with Italians to learn about Italian traditional food,” they replied. “Our pizza is made according to the recipes and tastes of the Italian people.”
A few of the reviewers found the crust to be doughy, but overall thought the pizza had a good balance of flavors. Stephen stated, “All of the elements were very strong and came together to create a strong finished product.” This seems to reflect Pizziamoci’s philosophy, which, translated loosely, says, “Italian cuisine is the crystallization of all creative sources that will give you a great experience.” They certainly are delivering on this. A number of reviewers agreed with Nadia at the end of the night, when she declared, “Pizziamoci is the best!”
Pizza Pomodoro and Pizza Primavela (180k VND each)
Crust 3/5 Sauce 3/5 Topping 4/5 Appearance/Smell 3/5 Overall 3/5
Newcomer Pizza Pomodoro’s recently opened location on To Ngoc Van has been wowing dine-in customers with its light and crispy pizzas. Beginning the evening as a first place hopeful based on previous delivery experience, Pizza Pomodoro steadily diminished in our judges’ opinions when compared to the evening's other pizzas.
Upon first inspection, the Pizza Pomodoro pies’ crusts appeared to be burnt. Some judges disliked their blackened appearance, but one noted that she didn’t mind it, stating that it gave the pizza an authentic brick oven look and added to the flavor. Tastewise, many appreciated that it used a sufficient amount of salt, which had been missing in other round 1 and 2 pizzas.
The sauce was one of the best of the night, but when considering the pizza as a whole, many judges were left underwhelmed. Paul announced, “ It looks great, but the taste doesn’t match the appearance.”
The Pizza Pomodoro pies had an even coverage of toppings, which many described as rich and flavorful. The sauce was one of the best of the night, but when considering the pizza as a whole, many judges were left underwhelmed. Paul announced, “ It looks great, but the taste doesn’t match the appearance.”
Ryan, a pie fanatic who eats pizza at least four days a week, said, “It’s the most emotionally sad of all the pizzas.” Brooke Lyn agreed with him, adding, “The most accurate way I could describe it is ‘meh’.”
Katie, an avid and detailed pizza researcher, stated, “Overall, Pizza Pomodoro has a nice appearance, but the sauce to topping ratio is verging on too moist. But, what really is too moist for pizza?” It would not be the only time this question was asked over the evening, which leads us to...
Capricciosa Pizza & Chèvre Chaud Pizza (230k and 210k VND)
Crust 3/5 Sauce 3/5 Toppings 4/5 Appearance/Smell 4/5 Overall 4/5
Pizza Belga is without a doubt the most sought after pizza in Hanoi. Commenters raved about it on Facebook, some practically in a rage that it had not been included in the first round of the search. But the judges’ eagerness to try Pizza Belga was waylaid when we received a call from the restaurant saying that it would take an hour and a half for delivery. We have to assume that there was something going on at the restaurant that evening because, according to Pizza Belga’s website, their pizzas are flash-baked for 60 seconds. And as such, the timing doesn’t quite line up...
The late delivery did not curve the judges’ enthusiasm. Pizza Belga’s pies were visually stunning and very aromatic, but trying to get the slices out of the box was a definite problem. “The presentation is wonderful but it’s too wet,” said Stephen as he struggled to remove his slice from the rest of the pie. “It’s becoming a structural issue. You need to put a fork under it.” Paul agreed with him, adding, “It looks amazing but the crust has the strength of wet cardboard.”
We had already seen this problem with the other pizzas being judged this round (with the exception of NYC Pizza), but Pizza Belga’s sogginess proved the biggest issue of the night. Miguel, a pizza perfectionist, explained, “The majority of the pizzas haven’t traveled well because the pizza needs to rest before it goes in the box, otherwise the vapor creates humidity, which sogs the box and then sogs the crust.”
“This crust is the most authentic and the most flavorful,” noted Carly. “It’s better in the restaurant, but the chewiness was really nice.”
Judges wanted delivery pizza that could be eaten without utensils, but Pizza Belga’s pies are designed to be eaten with a knife and fork, as stated by their website. However, the crust still had its fans among the judges. “This crust is the most authentic and the most flavorful,” noted Carly. “It’s better in the restaurant, but the chewiness was really nice.”
Pizza Belga’s topping combinations were by far the stand out of the night. According to Pizza Belga owner, Hai Linh, “All of the toppings are imported or prepared in respecting the traditional Neapolitan taste (which can be stronger/saltier for some local customers). Our difference is also in the fresh mozzarella cheese, which is made in-house from fresh milk from the North of Hanoi.”
Our judges loved the combination of pungent goat cheese and sweet honey on the Chèvre Chaud pizza. One even noted it was “unlike any pizza I’ve eaten in Hanoi before.” Miguel stated that he would have liked to see more nuts to better balance the chèvre, but it was still a favorite.
Part of Pizza Belga’s mission is to create the feeling that their customers are “eating at a friend’s place”. Owner Hai Linh told us, “pizza and packaging can be personalized and we sometimes have funny requests from regular customers, [such as] to make pizzas heart shaped, make mini pizzas, or to draw elephants, giraffes or personalized messages on the box.”
It was clear to us that Pizza Belga put as much care into their flavor as they do into creating a sense of community. Though most agreed the pies would be better enjoyed in the restaurant than at home, they were still, flavorwise, a stand out of the evening. Brooke Lyn summed up many judges’ thoughts when she announced, “This pizza should be named ‘Orgasmic’.”
Winner: Factoring in price, delivery time, and overall flavor, we have to hand Round 2 of The Search for Hanoi’s Best Delivery Pizza to the Stracciatella pizza from Pizziamoci. Our judges were wowed by this little-known spot. Brooke Lyn summarized the results when she concluded, “I hope I dream about eating Pizziamoci tonight.”