Newly opened West Haven bar has a hit pizza on the menu
WEST HAVEN — The city’s newest eatery was supposed to be a bar that offered pizza, but only three weeks into it, the scrumptious topping combos are quickly shaping ReBAR into a pizza destination that happens to offer drinks.
That’s no problem for youngowner, Stephen Morrell, 28, because aside from always wanting to open a bar in his hometown, the Westie is a longtime pizza connoisseur who spent more time than most eating New Haven’s famous pizza — Sally’s, Pepe’s, Modern, Bar — and also the biggies in West Haven, Zuppardi’s Apizza and Mike’s Restaurant & Apizza.
“The pizza has been a hit. Even bigger than I thought,” Morrell said. “ I just knew I couldn’t bring a mediocre pizza to West Haven.”
Morrell, who installed a smallish brick oven, serves only 10-inch personal-size pies, and no other food, because the intent was for the pizza to complement the bar scene. Even the company shirts say, “Bar + Pizza.
But one creative pie has stood out — it’s called THE REBAR — and customers are wolfing it down and raving about on social media.
Some of its signature ingredients wound up on the pizza by chance when Morrell and his pizza chef, Robert Moccio, were experimenting with ingredients before opening.
THE REBAR, $12, is topped with burrata cheese, mozzarella, pepperoni, hot cherry peppers, red onion, prosciutto and drizzled with truffle honey.
The prosciutto wound up on the combo, Moccio said, when a waitress saw it near him and said, “Why don’t you throw that on the pizza?” The truffle honey had been given to Moccio by a chef friend, and so he drizzled it on.
The result, customers say, is a perfect blend of spicy, sweet, salty.
Like most of America, Moccio says he could eat pizza anytime — hamburger is his favorite — but Morrell’s love affair with and knowledge of pizza goes much deeper.
Growing up, his dad, Steve Morrell, took young Stephen for pizza every weekend — hitting the biggies on Wooster Street in New Haven as well as Modern and Bar. They also ate at Zuppardi’s Apizza and Mike’s Restaurant & Apizza.
Barstool Sports pizza reviewer Dave Portnoy has recently declared New Haven the pizza capital of the world.
At ReBAR the goal was to serve brick oven, “New Haven-style pizza,” Morrell said.
Sally’s is Morrell’s favorite — as it was Portnoy’s — and Morrell has such extensive and intricate knowledge of the places that he has a favorite at each one.
At Sally’s, his favorite is plain sauce, well done, no cheese; at Pepe’s, Modern and Zuppardi’s, it is simple mozzarella topping; at Mike’s, it’s hot cherry pepper with bacon and pepperoni; and at Bar, it’s mashed-potato bacon pizza.
Stephen Morrell, a Platt Technical High School graduate, works days as a plumber and goes to ReBAR when it opens at 3 p.m.
“I don’t really count this as work because I enjoy being here,” he said.
ReBAR is located in Savin Rock Parkade, 250 Captain Thomas Blvd. at the opposite end of where People’s United Bank stands.
“I always wanted a bar, especially in my town,” he said. “I love local bars — West Haven is a social city.” He hopes to open a second ReBAR.
The spot used to be Pete’s Bar, and it is now completely modernized and remodeled. He called it ReBar because rebar is commonly used in the construction trade in which he and his father have worked. Some custom designed rebar structures hold liquor bottles at the bar.
In an ode to plumbing, the table bases are made from pipes.
In true bar spirit, they serve pizza as late as 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends.
The 16-seat, granite-topped bar is lined with USB ports for cellphones and other devices.
The bar/eatery has an outdoor patio with high fence.
Customer Bill Costello goes to ReBAR regularly for beer and or pizza after the gym.
“The pizza is fantastic,” Costello said, adding the bar is “beautiful inside.” Asked what his favorite pizza is, Costello said, “I kind of like them all.”
In addition to THE REBAR, they offer a design-your-own pizza option as well as six other specialty 10-inch personal pizzas: Margherita, The Meat Head, The Hamburger, Buffalo Chicken, The Sinatra, The Veggie. They are $9 each.
Morrell said his younger sister, Alyssa Morrell, 25, has her own custom cake and cupcake business, and he thinks they got an entrepreneurial spirit and strong work ethic from their parents, who have traditional blue-collar jobs.
“We always had to earn everything we wanted,” he said.
Steve Morrell, who helps out at the business, said of his son, “I’m proud of him.”
Bar manager and bartender Cory Reynolds said the venue has a “hometown and comfortable” feel and is attracting more families and less bar crowd than they thought.
“We thought we were a bar that happened to have a pizza oven. But we turned out to have a pizza place where there happens to have beer.”