In just a little more than three months since I reported that the people behind Tacoma's Harmon Restaurant and Brewery were taking over the space formerly operated by St. Helens Café, The Hub is open for business.
Today marks The Hub's grand opening. I've eaten a few things at The Hub since it unofficially opened on Monday. So far, so good.
Pat Nagle, Carol Holder and their team are off to an impressive start. For starters, the cold, cavernous space that was St. Helens Café now feels warm and as intimate as 6,000 square feet can get, thanks to the addition of a hearth-fire pizza oven, an expanded bar, a sitting area with sofa and chairs, and lots of art on the walls.
The menu touts "pizza, pasta and pints." I tried the pizza and the pints. The pints come from kegs of Harmon flagship beers. The pizza comes straight from the prayers' answered neighborhood, especially if you've been pining for hearth-baked pies with seriously good crust that's neither bready nor crackery but has both character and structure.
The Hub bakes 8- and 14-inch, hand-tossed pies, $8-$17. The two pies I sampled this week were of the rustic variety – not quite round, and a little oblongish, with sparsely applied toppings. To me, they looked as good as they tasted. Toppings include all the usual suspects, plus house-made sausage and meatballs. You can also choose your own cheese (mozzarella, provolone, pecorino, goat, ricotta, feta) and sauces (marina, infused oil, garlic cream, barbecue, pesto).
I also sampled the cheese plate ($7), which featured a French brie, an American goat Norwegian double-cream cheddar. Other small plates include mixed olives, smoked salmon and an antipasta plate.
Sandwiches are $8-$10 and include mozzarella-tomato caprese, salami, meatball hero, tuna melt and a burger, Pastas are $11-$15 and include linguine, spaghetti and meatballs, and fettucine with alder-smoked salmon. There's also flat-iron steak, chicken picatta, cedar-planked salmon and fish and chips ($12-$18).
House fries are interesting: they're a mix of potatoes and yams, with sea salt.
The Hub: 213 Tacoma Ave. S, Tacoma; 253-683-4606.