Haven Pizzeria Napoletana: Taste of New Haven

A Connecticut native fires up his coal ovens and brings crisp-crusted pizzas—plus a standout white-clam pie—to Bethesda.

Simply dressed pizzas served on metal trays are crowd pleasers at Bethesda’s Haven Pizzeria Napoletana. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Order a white-clam pie in New Haven and you’ll typically wind up with a thin-crust pizza topped with salty Pecorino Romano cheese, olive oil, garlic, oregano, and fresh clams. And that’s exactly what you get when you order one at Haven, a new pizzeria from accountant turned restaurateur Tiger Mullen and his pie-making partner, New Haven native Mark Bergami.

Studded with fresh-shucked topnecks and doused with enough oil to leave a sheen on your lips, the clam pie is gooey in the middle but has a crisp, skinny crust that the coal-burning oven marks with a thin line of black char.

Well-conceived, simple salads include the Romano–featuring romaine lettuce, a tart lemon vinaigrette, olives, aged pecorino, and salami–and the excellent Arance, in which juicy orange slices mingle with walnuts, Parmesan, olives, and balsamic dressing.

The clam pizza is the best thing on the menu, but the tomato pie (with or with-out mozzarella) and white Pie Bianco are straightforward and tasty. More complicated options are less rewarding: Bitter spinach beats out competing flavors on a white pizza with mushrooms. The Haven Fresh–a tomato pie with mozzarella, grated cheese, sliced tomatoes, olive oil, and basil–adds up to less than the sum of its parts.

Parents will feel at home at Haven on weekends, when it’s not unusual to see (and hear) gelato-fueled kids charging down the aisles. The frozen dessert–available in chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla–is made in-house. Like the best pizzas here, it’s fresh and uncomplicated.

This article appears in the May 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.