Elm House of Pizza has now been featured in The Union Leader!

Our Gourmet: Elm House of Pizza rolls bistro flare into a vintage name

May 19, 2021

THE OWNERS OF the new Elm House of Pizza revived a brand Queen City residents cherish from the 1970s, when the downtown pizza parlor and its West Side sister restaurant, Second Street House of Pizza, served thick-crust Greek-style pies piled with cheese and grinders with crusty rolls toasted in pizza ovens.

But the 2021 version of Elm House of Pizza shares a name with its 20th-century muse and not much else. Owners Tim Baines and Bob Scribner wisely created a modern menu rather than one that mimics a bygone era. There are plenty of places in town that still make that old-style pizza, so why create another one?

This Elm House serves pizza on a pedestal, the way we expect our classy pies to arrive at the table these days. It spices up the traditional lineup with toppings and flavors the old pizza joints could not have imagined.

The House Pizza ($15 small, $20 large) features house-made tomato sauce, dollops of ricotta cheese, cup and char pepperoni — the kind that curls up like a little bowl when it’s cooked — Italian sausage, three cheese blend and hot honey drizzle.

Hot honey drizzle. That alone should tell you that you have not been transported back in time. It’s the kind of flourish you might expect from a trendy modern kitchen, like, say, Mint Bistro, the other restaurant Baines owns on Elm Street.

The pizza crust at the new Elm House shares little in common with the Elm House of old, which had a thickness similar to pan pizza.

The thin but sturdy crust on the House Pie we ordered was nicely browned on the bottom and slightly oily. The outer edges tasted like breadsticks. We didn’t leave any pieces of crust behind.

While the restaurant’s signature pies lean toward the culinary curious, you can build your own and choose from nearly 30 toppings. Yes, they have anchovies. Artichokes, too. Table caddies include shakers of red pepper flakes, oregano, Parmesan cheese and garlic powder.

While Our Gourmet sampled the House Pizza, his Lovely Dining Companion tried the Fried Haddock ($19), a fresh, lightly battered filet she ordered with hand-cut fries and coleslaw. While the fish portion was modest, the entree was as good as you would expect from a seafood restaurant.

We’d say the same about the New England Clam Chowder. My dining companion ordered a cup ($6) before her meal. Our waitress could not vouch for whether it was made fresh, but we’re pretty sure it was. Otherwise it would be an anomaly in a restaurant where my small Greek Salad ($6) was made with field greens rather than iceberg lettuce and was presented with the cucumber slices and black olives arranged in rows, ready for a food magazine photo op.

The salad was served with a creamy Greek dressing that we added in dollops like that ricotta cheese on the House Pizza.

On previous trips to Elm House, we have sampled the Hand Breaded Buffalo Chicken Tenders ($7, $12) and the Steak & Cheese Sub ($12). The tenders are juicy with just the right amount of batter. The steak sub ($12) features sliced steak rather than tips but has become one of our menu favorites, in part due its soft but crusty French roll. It’s a huge sandwich and comes with a side of fries so it’s big enough to share.

The menu includes nine seafood, steak and chicken entrees plus burgers, sandwiches, and dinner salads.

Lobster, a pricey option these days everywhere, rules the high end of the menu, with Baked Lobster Pie ($28) and the Lobster Salad Roll ($24.)

This OG can’t say he’s ever dined at a pizza joint where he would be willing to shell out nearly 25 bucks for a lobster roll, but this one is on our list for next time. We’ve sampled enough to trust everything on this menu. Elm House of Pizza is much more than a slice of nostalgia.

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