Before I begin, if you've read any of my past reviews of other New Haven pizzerias Pepe's, Modern, and Sally's, you'll know that this is not my favorite Za-Town. "Overhyped," "arrogant," and "inconsistent" are all words I have definitely used to describe New Haven's collective pizza-consciousness, that was until I visited Bar and my life changed a little.
A good friend, having heard my woeful tales of sub-par pizza experiences in New Haven, said that I just had to try Bar's signature 'bacon & potato' pizza. Now as much as I love pork and taters, successfully dropping mashed potatoes onto a pizza is no easy task without turning the whole thing into a carbo-loaded hammer to the face, so I was weary before I ever set foot in the door.
Pump the brakes. This place is a brewpub, too? No one told me that! Maybe this New Haven adventure will be a little easier to stomach than I anticipated. Opened in the mid 90's, Bar looks like (and likely was) carved out of an old car garage or dealership of some sort. That said, their coal-burning monster of an oven looks like it's been hidden away for centuries-
Not too shabby! After downing an AmBAR ale (their pun, not mine), I cut to the chase and ordered a cheese (remember: a "plain" in New Haven does not come with mozzarella) and a bacon-potato pie, and proceeded to poke around the larger-than-expected space while I waited.
With a large open space tucked away behind the oven and brewery, Bar is also apparently a nightclub on weekends. I'm not a club kid, but if you've got the space you might as well use it! After just a few minutes, my babies arrived.
Despite not touting the same kind of history as it's historic pizza-slinging brethren, Bar has all the same features and requisites needed to classify this pie as New-Haven style. Aluminum trays with wax paper? Check. Slightly oblong and cut maniacally? Check. Coal-oven cooked, bespeckled with charred bits of cornmeal on the bottom?
Check! You'll notice I went with basil on half, not something I usually do at all when in NH but I was curious how they would distribute the green stuff. In my book, they passed the test.
While admittedly the cheese pizza here isn't as good as Pepe's or even (begrudgingly) Sally's, it's still pretty damn decent. I think it could have used another 45 seconds in the oven, but I'm not really complaining.
Regardless, whether I was ready to admit it or not, the real star here truly is the bacon-potato pizza.
Maybe it doesn't look all that great, but trust my stomach on this one. I think a part of why this pizza works is largely due the light and airy crust they have going on. Anything thicker and I'd feel like I was chowing down on a deep dish or pan pizza.
The potatoes are soft, mashed, and surprisingly still moist despite the cook in the arrid 800 degree oven. The bacon, which is distributed well and crumbled to a perfect size, stays crispy atop it all.
I'll admit it - Bar has pulled New Haven as a pizza town back from my 'dead to me' list. I'm a sucker for a good pizza and a well-crafted pint. Bar has masterfully straddled the old world and the new, combining classic technique and style with a modern palette and approach. While this was my first visit, it certainly won't be my last.