I adore pizza. So why it take me seven years to find Harvest & Hearth?
Maybe it’s the “out of sight, out of mind” effect.
The address may say Saratoga Springs but there are no sidewalks or Victorian buildings near this wood-fired pizza place.
Only a 10-minute drive from Broadway via Lake Avenue/Route 29, Harvest & Hearth inhabits a humble one-story wooden building on the shores of Fish Creek, a summer playground for kayakers and stand- up paddleboarders.
Harvest & Hearth
WHERE: 251 County Route 67, Saratoga Springs, 587-1900, www.harvestandhearth.com
WHEN: 4:30-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday; 4:30-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
HOW MUCH: $47 for two: Two small pizzas, one salad, two desserts and one coffee, with tax and tip, but not including beer and wine
CREDIT CARDS: Visa, Mastercard and Discover
MORE INFO: Walk-ins welcome, reservations requested for six or more, parking at Fish Creek Marina
Operated by Peter and Gina Michelin, the casual restaurant is open all year round, and in the summer, you can munch your pizza on the deck while you watch people play in the water.
On a recent cool and drizzly Saturday night, lured by the idea of a nice warm artisan pizza, husband Dan and I ventured out with our friend Caroline.
Inside, the massive clay oven was blazing at the far end of a big, friendly dining room, and pizza makers were pushing paddles in and out of the heat. From every table, the oven flames were visible, imparting a comforting, communal sort of warmth.
As it was a very busy night, we were ushered into the adjoining bar room to wait for our table.
H&H is all about using locally and regionally sourced food and beverages, right down to the impressive menu of craft beers, many of them on tap.
Before we had down our drafts of Southern Tier IPA and Fiddlehead Double Wit, we were back in the oven room.
“This is so simple,” said Dan, admiring the uncomplicated list of seven flatbread pizzas, in personal or large sizes, and two salads.
We all ordered personal pies so we could sample different ones.
Caroline picked The Epiphany ($9.50): kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, red onion, goat cheese and mozzarella; Dan selected The Natural ($8.95): sundried tomato pesto, carmelized onion, mushrooms, maple fennel sausage and mozzarella; and I chose The Shrooms ($8.95): wild mushrooms, carmelized onions, fontina and mozzarella.
As our eight-inch pies made the short trip from oven to table, the scent of rosemary in Caroline's pizza wafted up.
The goat cheese was from Four Brothers farm in Dutchess County, the mushrooms and herbs were organic. Their sausage and pepperoni are nitrite and antiobiotic free, the chicken is free-range.
“This is good," said Caroline. "I like the crust and I’m not a crust eater.”
I am a crust lover, raised on thick Western New York pizza, but this thin style, with its hint of grill flavor, was totally satisfying.
“This is perfect, isn’t it?,” said Dan.
And there's more than pizza to recommend.
Before the pizzas arrived, Dan dug into an enormous Harvest House mesclun salad ($6.75) presented in a large white bowl. At the next table, I saw a table of four sharing two salads, that's how large they are.
The desserts sounded so appealing, we ordered both of them.
The warm pumpkin bread pudding was topped with an Everest of organic whipped cream dusted with cinnamon, and the warm double chocolate brownie, baked in the wood-fired oven, was hidden under a cap of all natural vanilla bean ice cream.
Like the salad, each yummy dessert was big enough for two or even three to share.
While the ambiance is casual, little touches enhance the welcoming atmosphere: fresh mums on each table, water served in glass canning jars with a slice of lemon, track lighting, paintings by Saratoga Springs artist Stu Eichel on the wall and photos by Emma Dodge Hanson of Saratoga Springs in the hallway.
The waitstaff and bartenders, all energetic young folks, were engaging and attentive.
H&H is definitely a family place, but we saw plenty of couples and other adult groups of all ages.
"We go there after baseball games," a friend with school-age children tells me.
“It’s a reasonable night out,” Dan said as he picked up the bill.