“In crust we trust.”
Such was my emphatic motto as I left Harvest Pizzeria, a small, locally wrought venue nestled in the ever-eclectic German Village. Located at 495 S. Fourth St. (with another, recently opened location at 2885 N. High St. in Clintonville), the pizzeria boasts a faded brick façade, neutral hues and an expansive patio that overlooks the charming and historical residences of German Village.
We were seated with ease on the patio (granted, it was a Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. — tables are typically scarce inside and out), which with its moss-colored picnic-tables, overhanging umbrellas and ample greenery, exuded a certain freshness — a spring-like vitality.
Featuring an assortment of small plates, salads, pizzas, desserts and beverages, the menu is by nature unique, making new many traditional dishes through unconventional ingredients and inventive combinations. Although I debated between their Ricotta Gnocchi — a $7 appetizer with trumpet mushrooms, sage and butter — and the Wild Caught Galician Sardines ($8), I eventually opted for the $9 Mean Green salad as my starter. Atop a bed of “local jewel lettuce,” the salad’s crunchy legume sprouts and sunflower seeds, in tandem with its avocado and light, herb-infused dressing, made for a tasty and fresh though not necessarily mind-blowing plate — a pleasant palate-primer for my impending foodgasm.
Now to the pizza.
Harvest’s menu offers a “Get Creative,” build-your-own pizza section, featuring a number of options (four sauces, four cheeses, nine meats and 14 veggies) that range from the ever-intriguing “chipotle-spiked tomato” sauce and “canal junction Gouda,” to the decidedly more simple pineapple and pepperoni. I, however, entrusted my decision to the chefs, selecting from a list of 12 tried-and-tested favorites.
For three people, two pizzas were sufficient: We ordered the more traditional vegetable ($13) — topped with mozzarella, provolone, onion, olives, mushrooms, bell pepper and sunflower sprouts — as well as the more obscure Almond Pesto, a $12 pie featuring spinach, mozzarella and artichokes (and of course, we added an organic egg for an extra $1).
The verdict? Both excellent, both incredibly different, both devoured within 10 minutes.
The vegetables of the former were colorful and abundant, working alongside the flavor-intense tomato sauce, not-too-overpowering cheese and crunchy sprouts to yield a perfect parity of rich and light. The latter, by contrast, was an explosion of flavor: The powerful, herb-infused pesto, the mild, yet formidable mozzarella, the hearty egg and the sour artichokes made for a surprising and intense pizza experience. And although I had difficulty tasting the almond in the pesto and found it a little oily in places, these minor observations did not detract from my overall impression.
And the crust — I would be remiss without mentioning it. Perfectly crisp on the outside yet light and soft on the inside, the crust, without question, made the pizza. Any skepticism I had before was utterly eclipsed as I bit into this hot, perfectly seasoned creation — a crust unlike any I’ve ever tried.
If you’re in search of quantity, Harvest Pizzeria might not be the place for you. However, to any adventurous, quality-seeking, gastronomically-inclined foodie, this venue is a must. Even the conventional pizza lover — the rigid, crust-sauce-cheese-loving person — will appreciate the freshness of ingredients, home run crust and sheer ambience of the venue.
The German Village location is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Mondays, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Harvest Pizza is closed on Sundays.