Bunk’s Tommy Habetz to Open Pizza Jerk

We’ve got opening dates and menu details for the sandwich king’s long-awaited pizza parlor.

By Benjamin Tepler October 28, 2015

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After nearly a year of delays, a name change, and a location swap, the upcoming pizzeria from Bunk Sandwich honcho Tommy Habetz is ready to go. Pizza Jerk will open its doors at 5028 NE 42nd Ave in the second week of November, with former Pok Pok head man, J.B. Tranholm, as second in command. 

As previously reported, Pizza Jerk will lean towards the New Haven, East Coast-style pies of Habetz’s youth, with traditional and nontraditional inspirations available by the slice. “There’s not too many people who let themselves think freely about pizza,” says Habetz. “Everybody’s either ‘this has to be Napoli-approved,’ or ‘no more than three toppings to a pie.’ Why make up boundaries? If you want to dip your pizza in ranch, god bless.”

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The dining room at Pizza Jerk

Habetz says the wood-accented space will hold 30-40 seats, with captain’s chairs, booths, and old-school pizza parlor lights. Come summertime, Pizza Jerk will sprawl out onto a 50-60 seat outdoor patio, with plenty of room for the kids. Also in the immediate future: a takeout window for pizza orders and (fingers crossed) soft serve ice cream, topped with hot fudge and caramel.

For now, Eat Beat has an exclusive first look at Pizza Jerk’s opening menu:

  • Clam Pie (a New Haven specialty): Instead of the usual unwieldy mix of clam shells and garlic, expect a thick, steamed clam-white wine-cream sauce, with the meat plucked out and tossed into the mix.
  • Detroit Style aka “The Detroit Supremes”: A Midwest-style deep-dish pan pie with house-made sausage, meatballs, Old Salt pepperoni, and charred peperonata (a mix of onions, peppers, thyme).
  • Bolognese Pie: Rich, slow-cooked beef, pork, and prosciutto, finished with heavy cream, and ladeled over the crust in lieu of tomato sauce.
  • Pig and Pineapple aka “The Howlie” (Hawaii, forgive us): Sweet, pickled grilled pineapple and bo ssam—Korean-style roast pork.

Habetz also promises a make-your-own pie option, with season toppings like roasted fennel and mixed mushrooms, along with Sicilian-style slices, and possibly a gluten-free dough.

But pies aren’t the only game at Pizza Jerk. Habetz says he’s launching a small pasta menu—a big deal for anyone who remembers his gutsy noodles at Portland’s infamous Ripe, or his prominent role as superstar chef Mario Batali’s protégé at New York’s Po and Lupa. He’ll start with a classic spaghetti and meatballs, cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper), and something called “duck dan dan,” an Italian take on the Chinese dish, with ground duck and Sichuan peppercorns. In the same vein, Habetz is playing with “Italian” fried rice, starring broccoli rabe and spicy sausage. Sandwiches will make an appearance, too, as re-imagined by the original sandwich king. For now, expect the essential “parms”: eggplant, chicken, and meatball.

“I’m doing this the same way I approached Bunk,” says Habetz. “Changing people’s misconceptions about sandwiches—or pizza—and making it the best I can.”

Pizza Jerk
5028 NE 42nd Ave
Open Daily, 11:30am-10pm

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