Haven Can’t Wait

But you can wait at Haven (7137 Wisconsin), and you probably will, for a table, because the new-ish pizzeria has already become the 2 Amy’s of Bethesda — ground zero for parents with kids, only with better pizza.  It’s rare that I think something is worth much of a wait, but Haven is, especially if you can snag a seat at the bar.

When I was growing up in Seattle, one of the local pizza chains was Pizza Haven, whose locally famous slogan was “Got a pizza cravin’? Come to Pizza Haven!”*  According to the wikipedias, Pizza Haven was among the first pizzerias to deliver. I only remember eating at the one in the Seattle Center Food Court, which no longer exists (neither the SCFC nor the PH chain exist).**  It was a couple of counters down from the Orange Julius, which does still exist, including (I noticed recently) at Arundel Mills (also Montgomery Mall).  I used to love the St. Louis dog, with cheese and bacon bits.  But apparently now they are beverage-only, no food? So sad.

* For some reason none of the old Pizza Haven tv commercials are on YouTube, all I could find were some from the mid-1990s Australian version of Pizza Haven that didn’t use the classic slogan.

** UPDATE: Mrs. Senior Me clued me in to the fact that the Seattle Center Food Court still exists!  I haven’t been there for at least 25 years.  Apparently now the Center House is called the Armory and the vendors are probably a lot better than they used to be, although my friend’s family’s kebab place is still there.  Unclear what sort of weapons they have there at the armory.  I guess a kebab could be a weapon?

Anyway, I have no idea if the old Pizza Haven was actually any good (probably not?).  The new Haven Pizzeria (which is, also, a New Haven-style pizzeria) is actually very good, although we did not try the clam pie, which Sietsema loved and is the classic New Haven pizza topping. Mrs. Me feels about clams on her pizza the way I feel about pineapple on mine.  I’ll try the clams next visit.

Why so good?  Primarily the crust: thin but not too thin, crisp yet just the right amount of chewy, full of yeasty flavor, and firm throughout with no soggification in the middle.  I could just eat slices of crust and be happy.  But the sauce and cheese are good too, and the toppings are excellent.  The margherita is densely covered with fresh diced tomatoes and strips of basil.  Pepperoni and black olive make a deliciously salty combination.  And the “Vodka & Bacon” is great, also salty, the bacon seemed more American than Canadian but it didn’t matter, I eagerly devoured the whole thing.

Haven has limited beer offerings, although one (bottled, not on tap) is the Dogfish 90-Minute IPA, our longtime house favorite.  The wine list has some good relatively affordable options, though still at a 250% markup in some cases (like a retail $11 wine for $35 at Haven).  But the beverages are secondary to the pizza anyway.

It’s  a big place (and yet a wait for a table!), with a  long bar, an open kitchen, high ceilings and high decibels.  We sat in a booth, which helped deaden the ambient noise, I think.  Friendly, efficient service.  All in all a fine pizza experience, and I would rank Haven’s pies with Ghibellina’s as my local favorites (with still a number of top contenders I haven’t yet tried).  Haven doesn’t give you giant shears for pizza-cutting like Ghibellina does, but that’s about the only thing that was missing.

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