Andrew Kirschner is feeling pretty chipper these days. His Santa Monica restaurant Tar and Roses, which underwent a reconstruction after enduring substantial damage earlier this year, is back and running at nearly the same capacity despite only have patio and sidewalk seating. And he’s starting a new takeout pizza operation that should cater well to the neighborhood. Using the wood-fired oven that was the heart and soul of the California-Mediterranean menu, he’ll begin serving 14 inch neo-Neapolitan pizzas this weekend in five different topping combinations. The white clam pizza in particular is a bit of a find, since clam pizza isn’t nearly as popular in LA as it is in the Northeast.
The crust has a bit more development and structure than a straight Neapolitan, but the slices won’t be as sturdy as a New York pie. The edges of the crust get a decent blistering from the oven, and comes with a waft to the wood aroma. The pricing at the moment seems fairly reasonable, from $16 for a margherita to $21 for the clam pizza. The only real comparison in the neighborhood is Milo & Olive, which has similarly priced, but substantially smaller, pies.
Tar and Roses pizza is probably big enough for two modest eaters, but the move would be to get the $40 pizza and wine combo, which gives you a choice of any pizza plus a bottle of house wine they’re calling Pizza Juice, in either a red or rose. The margherita uses both buffalo and a bit of standard mozzarella for extra cheesiness while the spicy nduja is Kirschner’s take on Hawaiian — but with actual fresh pineapple and little nobs of the spicy Italian spreadable sausage. A loaded mushroom pizza comes with hen of the woods and cremini, while the prosciutto-arugula pie rounds out the offerings.
The pizzas are only available via takeout and delivery (through Postmates) beginning this weekend, from 5:30 to 9 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday, so don’t sit down at Tar and Roses expecting to get an $18 pizza for dinner.