The pizzeria fare is great in this new branch of the Columbus-created elite pizza chain, but although delicious, its bistro-style dishes have been prone to very fixable miscues
The first Harvest Pizzeria was an immediate sensation when it opened in 2011. By serving then-rare-in-town Neapolitan pies with farm-to-table toppings, plus other refined fare such as foie gras “sans gavage” (since discontinued) and beverages more commonly seen in fine-dining restaurants, Harvest — like Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, which Harvest recalls down to its sea-salted butterscotch budino — raised the bar on what a local pizzeria could be.
In addition to subsequently opening other terrific eateries such as the Sycamore and Cosecha Cocina, Harvest restaurateur Chris Crader and his Grow Restaurants Group have launched several more Harvests. Rather than generating exact clones, though, Grow has bestowed each Harvest with distinct features.
The new Harvest Tavern and Pizzeria in Grandview Heights — the subject of this review — is distinguished by an inspired collaboration with the Butcher & Grocer, an esteemed local-sourcing strip-mall neighbor. Although execution glitches compromised many neo-bistro-style items I tried, this meeting of like minds results in consistently bold and delicious dishes.
You might not pick that up from Harvest's understated, primarily wood-and-brick interior. It's roomy and comfortable enough and has stark and arty farm-themed photographs, but the flagrantly brown, sleek and modern space verges on appearing nondescript.
That impression improves as you sip one of the place's Ohio-brewed beers, decent wines or good house cocktails, such as the “Grow's Old Together” ($13), a well-integrated drink that riffs on an old fashioned and is amusingly presented in a chilled glass flask. For something lighter and brighter with pleasant tea and cherry notes, try the “TIKI, do you love me?” ($11).
Along with offering fashionable beverages, every Harvest Pizzeria I've visited assembles top-notch salads and bakes excellent pizzas with crisp-yet-chewy, thin-and-toasty crusts. As a local greens-featuring Kale Caesar salad ($6) and a pizza made with Athens County mushrooms ($16) proved, this branch is on the money in those regards.
Among the ambitious not-so “small plates” I sampled, the large Root Carpaccio ($9) was an unqualified success: an attractive platter of skillfully prepared vegetables that balances sweet gold and ruby beets with pickled radishes, onions and fennel. But while the veal Bone Marrow appetizer ($13) tasted great and came with a vibrant gremolata, the marrow wasn't soft or creamy enough and its accompanying “grilled” bread showed scarce signs of toasting. And oversalting detracted from the pleasures of a generous serving of impressively roasted, lemon-kissed Brussels sprouts ($7).
The Brussels sprouts were just right in a bang-up nightly special: grilled lean Hanger Steak ($24) that was deep red beneath a dark crust and whose abundant juices helped flavor the sprouts. Creative touches — fries made from sweet delicata squash contrasted with super-tangy cranberry ketchup — added panache.
Overcooking rendered the garlicky flavor-bomb star of the huge Italian Sausage Sandwich ($13) rather dry. Too bad, because with its grainy mustard, sauteed peppers and onions and addictive side of smashed fingerling potato fries, it's a well-conceived meal made with good ingredients.
So is the Shrimp & Grits ($18). Three plump shellfish grace a plate with the yin-and-yang duo of a bright and zippy “smoked tomato jus” and somewhat stiff but intense, almost masa-like cheesy blue grits. Excellent spicy-yet-nuanced andouille sausage adds punch.
After informing my server that the meat in my Pork Cheeks entree ($16) was cold, he saved the day by comping a reasonable portion of the bill and bringing out a “do-over” with wonderful chili-paste-coated pigmeat, a killer seared peach pico de gallo plus light and crackly pork rinds. In the end I got a sophisticated and delicious dish, but I look forward to a time when this elite pizzeria is also consistent enough as a very good restaurant that it won't need someone to save the day.