One of the most highly anticipated spring openings is here: Nighthawk Pizza, a 400-seat indoor/outdoor beer-and-pizza hall that opens at Westpost (née Pentagon Row) in Arlington today. The brewpub is a first-time collaboration between three well-known names in DC’s dining and drinking scene: restaurateur Scott Parker (Don Tito, Poppyseed Rye), chef Johnny Spero of Georgetown tasting room Reverie and downtown DC’s forthcoming Bar Spero, and the hops obsessives at Aslin Beer Company, who operate buzzy taprooms in Alexandria and Herndon.
The Aslin crew planted the seeds for Nighthawk over two years . Co-founders Andrew Kelley and Kai Leszkowicz are fans of Southern California’s Pizza Port Brewing Co. and wanted to open a similar carb-tastic concept here—with their own spin and industry friends, of course. Beers, all brewed on site exclusively for Nighthawk (for now), are low-alcohol. Kelley says they’re “reminiscent of Old World working class beers”—German lagers, English-style pub ales, kölsch, pilsners, and other quaffable varieties that pair well with food and are suited to long sessions sipping with friends.
Once Nighthawk has settled into its 10,000 square-foot perch, Kelley plans to collaborate on and showcase beers from other producers. If you’re not into hops, there’s still plenty to drink. The bars—both indoors and outside— pour Moscow mules, orange crushes, and nonalcoholic root beer on draft, and ‘tenders can mix drinks like a mezcal Paloma with grapefruit soda or a raspberry-infused rye sour. There are also a handful of wines by the glass or bottle.
Johnny Spero is an alum of DC tasting room Minibar and serves boundary-pushing tasting menus at his Georgetown restaurant, but for Nighthawk, he’s tapping into his casual talents (Spero became famous for both his burger and pizza pop-ups during the pandemic). Pizza comes two ways: tavern-style—thin, crispy-crusted pies designed to eat with one hand while drinking a beer in the other—and thicker Sicilian squares. Toppings range from crowd-pleasing pepperoni to cheffy combos like anchovy and pickled pearl onions. There’s even a DC-inspired half smoke pizza with white onion and chili-spiced tomato sauce. A version of Spero’s burger makes an appearance. He caps a single or double patty with American cheese, caramelized onions, shredded lettuce, pickled jalapenos, smoked mayo, and mustard, and serves it on a Martin’s potato bun. The menu is rounded out with other beer-friendly eats like wings, hearty sandwiches and salads, and crispy cheese curds with Outback-inspired sauce.
Beyond sauce, chain restaurants like Outback Steakhouse feature into Nighthawk’s nostalgic theme and inspiration.
“I grew up in the ’90s going to Pizza Hut,” Kelley says. “A lot of the Aslin Beer and artwork has some of the ’80s and ’90s nostalgia and retro feel. We wanted to take that ’90s Pizza Hut feel and give it our own creative spin.”
Cue a look from 3877 Design that’s inspired by The Max from Saved by the Bell (for youngins, that was the diner-style hangout for the cool kids of Bayside High). As the weather warms, the Nighthawk crew plans to activate the outdoor bar and surrounding Westpost plaza—which allows alcohol—with festivals, music, and outdoor movies.
Nighthawk Pizza. 1201 S. Joyce St., Arlington. Soft opening hours: Sunday to Thursday, 3 PM to 10 PM; Friday and Saturday, 3 PM to 1 AM.