By Dr. Ink
Prices on nearly everything at The Haven Pizzeria drop a couple bucks during happy hour — the beer, wine, salads, appetizers and hand-tossed pizzas of every stripe. The markdowns might not seem like much until you consider that the booze and food don’t bleed your wallet to begin with.
The modern, stylish eatery is a sister restaurant to the Kensington Café a block away. Retractable front windows open to the neighborhood’s village core, which can be directly enjoyed from The Haven’s sidewalk patio. Inside are acrylic paintings providing bold splashes of color, plus a small bar in the back and some of the most comfortable booths and banquettes my caboose has experienced in a while. They were custom designed by a local contractor. Overall, the sleek aesthetics lend themselves more to a chic café rather than a traditional pizzeria. The bar features eight taps of local craft beers that change regularly. A nearby chalkboard lists the choices and their alcohol percentages. Most average $6 before the discount. About 10 different bottled beers are also available. Most are crafts but with a few pedestrian domestics mixed in. On this visit, names like Green Flash Road Warrior, Societe Debutante and Coronado Orange Wit were on the tap list. So was one I had never tried before, Belching Beaver Milk Stout. The Vista-based brewery also makes a peanut butter stout that is enjoyably novel, but heavy tasting. Conversely, the frothy milk stout is lighter in the mouth, yet with a classic coffee finish from dark malts. As a food beer, it doesn’t fill you up before The Haven’s pizzas do. Abbey, the informative manager on duty, recommended The Cortez pizza after indicating that I wanted something lively and pretty. It’s a sauce-less “Haven creation” featuring mozzarella and Gorgonzola with candied bacon and diced tomatoes. The crowning elements are avocado slices and fresh arugula. Rich and teasingly sweet, the beer and I took an immediate liking to it. The pies are available in nine and 14-inch sizes. Their crusts are neither thin nor thick, which beckons to the pre-carb-counting days when pizzas provided some good old-fashion chew. I also paired the stout to an order of “Dave’s meatballs,” named after a devoted patron who suggested The Haven offer them on the menu. They’re not the biggest in town, but you get five to an order and they’re capped with a sheath of melted mozzarella. Good stuff.
In addition to the $2 price breaks, beer pitchers are half off on Mondays and the drink discounts run all night on Tuesdays.