Before Bunk Sandwiches made Tommy Habetz Portland’s patron saint of pork belly cubanos, the rock ‘n roll-loving chef tossed pies at lauded Apizza Scholls, gathered a following for gutsy pasta at the city’s Ripe Supper Club, and earned stripes as a protégé of Mario Batali at New York’s Po and Lupa.
Now, the Bunk man is finally getting back to his East Coast roots and reputation as an Italian-food maven. This winter, Habetz plans to launch Moon Pizza, a family-centric pie shop named for the Who’s raucous drummer. The shop will open in a former sign store on SE 20th Avenue near the Southeast Powell Boulevard freeway overpass. Expect a lunch and dinner bonanza of reasonably priced, seasonal pizzas loaded with Chop and Olympic Provisions meats and local veggies by the slice and whole pie, plus ice creams made on site.
Habetz says he’s still firmly part of the Bunk crew, but stepping away from day to day operations to toss pies in Moon’s kitchen. Moon partner Brandon Smyth, a former roaster at Water Avenue Coffee, will assume front-of-house duties and head up the duo’s burgeoning ice cream operation, which they hope to house in the same space in the months to come. But first, the pizza:
“I’m definitely not an Italian purist. Think classic, 18-inch, East Coast style pizza,” says Habetz. “You should be able to fold it, for sure, but hopefully it won’t be too floppy.” Inspiration will come, in part, from the pies of Habetz’s youth, growing up near New Haven, Connecticut, but Moon will also lean more heavily on local farmers for ingredients than Bunk currently does. He’s already toying with roasted porchetta, thin sliced on a pie with salad on top—a sort of high-class pork belly and sausage pizza.
Absent from the plan so far? Pasta. That’s gustatory crime, given Habetz’s knack for big, Roman flavors. He actually crafted the pasta menu at Batali’s New York tratorria Lupa back in the day and his Uncle Margaret’s Chicken Liver Ragu was a Ripe fave. “My wife is begging me to do some pastas. We’ll see…” Habetz teases. “I’ll certainly be working in the Italian realm.”
At the moment, Habetz seems as excited for Moon’s potential as a fun, family dining room as a showcase for what he can do in the kitchen (see the duo's frankly amazing photo, above). “Brandon and I both have two-year-old little girls, we’re very much family men,” Habetz says. “We are just trying to create the ultimate place for us to be kids with our kids and make an awesome time for ourselves and the good people of Portland.”
We’ll raise a floppy (but not too floppy) slice to that.