What’s on the menu at North of Brooklyn’s Better Half Bar, a new east-end pizza parlour and craft beer hangout

What’s on the menu at North of Brooklyn’s Better Half Bar, a new east-end pizza parlour and craft beer hangout

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Name: Better Half Bar/North of Brooklyn
Contact: 663 Greenwood Ave., northofbrooklyn.com,
@betterhalf.663
Neighbourhood: The Danforth
Owners: Josh Spatz, Alex Potter
Chef: Alex Potter
Accessibility: Not fully accessible

The food

North of Brooklyn has historically been a takeout-and-delivery-focussed pizzeria, barring a small number of seats in some of its locations, including inside Geary Avenue’s Greater Good Bar. But according to chef Alex Potter, the pizza is best when it’s hot out of the oven—what pizza isn’t?—so it was about time for a dedicated dine-in location.

The menu will be familiar to fans of the brand—it’s their classic, well-rounded selection of pizza toppings, including the popular kale and double-smoked bacon. The crust, too, is best known for its delightful crispness—it’s made with a poolish, which is a low-yeast, pre-ferment method that helps develop deeper flavour in the dough.

Here we have the arugula salad: a happy tangle of peppery greens, pecorino, walnuts, house-pickled red onions and a classic sherry vinaigrette. Sharp and satisfying, it’s a great accompaniment for a slice. $10.

 

An uncompromising vegetarian option, the Truffle Shuffle is an indulgent pie of earthy cremini mushrooms, truffle cream, caramelized onions and a blend of mozzarella and smoked cheddar, all topped with minced chives and a hit of lemon zest. $21 for 14-inch, $29 for 18-inch.

 

This is the vodka verde, topped with (what else?) vodka sauce, mozzarella, pecorino and a verdant salsa verde made with chives, shallots, basil, lemon and chili flakes. It’s finished with an extra sprinkling of chives for maximum zippy freshness. $20 for 14-inch, $28 for 18-inch.

 

North of Brooklyn’s pepperoni is as good a rendition of the classic as there ever was. Fresh oregano is dotted throughout for a bit of herbaceousness; a delightful sesame-coated crust couldn’t be more fun to dip at the end of your slice.

 

Look at that cheese pull.
This is the only North of Brooklyn location where you’ll find oven-baked jumbo wings. Settling on a recipe that rendered them crispy without involving a deep-fryer was a ponderous affair, even with a blistering-hot pizza oven: after much experimentation, Potter settled on a 24-hour air-dry, a special oil blend with a touch of honey to encourage caramelization, and a lighter dredge than your standard deep-fried wing. These babies right here are the zesty buffalo wings. $14 per pound.

 

The buffalo wings in their final form, served with even more buffalo sauce for dipping. $14 per pound.

 

One way to give already crispy chicken wings extra texture is to coat them in a healthy sprinkling of sesame seeds; honey sriracha, crispy garlic and scallions do the heavy lifting in terms of flavour here. Served with extra honey sriracha sauce on the side. $15 per pound.

 

A divine harmony of sweet, salty, and rich, this is a classic chocolate budino, topped with good olive oil and sprinkling of Maldon salt. Small, perhaps, but satisfying: an indulgent finale.

 

And a whole cheesy and chicken-y spread.
The drinks

There’s craft beer from mostly local breweries, including east-end neighbours Left Field and Godspeed. A good mix of IPAs, lighter lagers and innovative local favourites—like Godspeed’s yuzu saison—makes for a comprehensive selection with broad appeal. If you’d prefer wine with your pizza, you’ll find low-intervention bottles here. Most were selected because they go well with pizza, which typically means lighter wine with the occasional touch of effervescence, like an excellent 2020 Bruno Zanasi lambrusco.

Here we have a traditional whiskey sour, finished with a few dashes of bitters and dressed up with orange peel. Though cocktails aren’t the focus here, all the classics are available upon request: your negronis, old fashioneds, boulevardiers—and even espresso martinis. $14.

 

Some of the current cans on offer.

 

There’s draught, too.

 

And vino!
The space

Family friendly by day and a rollicking good time by night, the two-floor space is all casual, convivial vibes with a few sports bar elements—namely a big TV dedicated to showing every Raptors and Leafs game (volume down, unless it’s the playoffs), and foosball, chess and checkers, and shuffleboard on the lower level. Vintage beer signs and red oak panelling give the place a warm, homey vibe; there’s lots of comfortable bench seating, and plenty of room to hang out at the bar. Fun fact: this location used to be a children’s art school. A few knick knacks from its history are sprinkled around the room, including a fun poster depicting the proper names for colours like “cadmium yellow” and “Prussian green.”

Left to right: Josh Spatz, Jason Hillier, and Alex Potter, outside the new location