Of all the pandemic restaurant pivots, the one at Reverie in Georgetown was among the most drastic. For more than a month, chef/owner Johnny Spero flipped his avant-garde tasting salon into Lonely Hunter, a pizza pop-up.
Spero needed an idea to keep his restaurant afloat while indoor dining was closed: “We didn’t want to do something that cheapened the brand or that wasn’t fun or challenging.”
So he began experimenting with fermented doughs—Spero has no walk-in fridge to store large quantities of ingredients. He played with styles, landing on a thin-crust hybrid of New York and Neapolitan. Beltsville brick-oven maker Marra Forni lent him an electric tabletop oven. His twin brother, Bobby Spero, helped design a retro logo for takeout boxes.
The quick-change operation, which ended in February, was a successful prelude to Nighthawk Pizza, a brick-and-mortar restaurant opening in Arlington this fall in collaboration with Aslin Beer Co. There, Spero will tackle Chicago tavern-style pizza—large, thin rounds cut into sturdy squares. Of course, there will still be cheffy touches: Creations might include a garlicky white clam pie or a riff on Spanish patatas bravas with potato confit and smoky sauce.