Pho 3 Pho opens off 29 North

Pho 3 Pho owner John Dinh says the restaurant makes 100 quarts of pho, a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup, a day. Photo by Tom McGovern Pho 3 Pho owner John Dinh says the restaurant makes 100 quarts of pho, a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup, a day. Photo by Tom McGovern

By Jenny Gardiner and Sam Padgett

You’ve gotta give John Dinh, owner of Charlottesville’s newest Vietnamese restaurant, major props for his clever restaurant moniker: Pho 3 Pho.

In case you didn’t know, “pho” is pronounced “pha,” as in do-re-me-fa-so-la-ti-do. Dinh credits the name, which echoes our local 434 area code, to his brother James.

Pho 3 Pho, which opened June 12 in Rivanna Plaza, the small strip mall abutting the AMF Kegler’s Lanes bowling alley on 29 North, is the realization of a long-held dream by Dinh, whose wife, Julie, owns two nail salons in town. Born in Vietnam but raised in Charlottesville, Dinh, who’s lived in the area for 20 years and attended Albemarle High School before graduating from William Monroe High School in Greene County, has always loved to cook.

“This is my goal, my dream, something I’ve always wanted to do, and nails just happened to come first, somehow—I have no clue how,” he says.

While the venue, formerly a sports bar, has a fully stocked bar and 20 different craft beers, the focus here is on pho, a popular traditional Vietnamese noodle soup made with slow-cooked beef stock that Dinh says is “the backbone of every Vietnamese restaurant. If [the pho’s] not good, then you should walk out.”

Childhood memories inform Dinh’s love of the soup—his family attended church in Richmond, where there is a large Vietnamese community, and ate it each Sunday.

Years of trial and error have gone into Dinh’s broth recipe, leading to the fragrant aromas wafting from the kitchen.

“The beef simmers for eight to 10 hours and is served hot,” he says. “It’s simmering all the time.” They make 100 quarts of the stuff a day, and there are plenty of pho options here, including sliced beef, meatball, brisket, chicken or a combination. Pho 3 Pho dishes cost between $3.50 for an appetizer and $12.50 for a large combination pho.

But Dinh is unequivocal about his favorite Pho 3 Pho dish: spicy beef noodle. “It’s different from pho,” he says. “It’s rich, a little bit sweet, a little bit sour, a good blend of different tastes. It’s strong, a bit spicy—I can’t make it mild, so don’t ask.”

Beneficial brew

For the past three years, Virginia breweries have come together to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation the best way they know how—selling beer—and Three Notch’d Brewery’s 65 Roses beer was made specifically to benefit charity, with $1 of every 65 Roses beer purchased going to the CFF. According to brewmaster Dave Warwick, the beer is designed to be “a light blonde ale that’s crisp and easy-drinking.” The June 14 Brewer’s Ball, the annual event that brings together 10 different Virginia breweries to benefit the cause, is your last chance to try the limited-edition brew before it’s gone.

Award-winning ales

The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild recently announced the winners of the 2018 Virginia Craft Beer Cup. Of the 375 beers judged in 27 categories, seven local breweries earned accolades. Blue Mountain Barrel House & Organic Brewery’s Adambeor took second place in the Best in Show category, along with first place in the Historical and Smoked Beer category. Wild Wolf Brewing Company’s American Stout nabbed first in the American Porter and Stout category, and second place honors went to Random Row Brewing Co. in the Pale Malty European Lager category with Not Yours Maibeck, and Blue Mountain Brewery’s Marsedon in the Trappist Ale category. Local brews won plenty of third place spots, too: Champion Brewing Company’s Shower Beer (Czech Lager category); Starr Hill Brewery’s Looking Glass and Jomo (IPA and Amber Malty and Bitter European Lager categories, respectively); South Street Brewery’s Virginia Lager (International Lager) and Three Notch’d Brewing Company’s Ghost of the 43rd (Pale American Ale).

Beer fans can sample many of the winners at the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest on August 18 at IX Art Park.

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