Hooksett: New England’s Tap House Grille

America's Tap House Bar & GrilleThe skinny: When we heard about this restaurant opening up not too far from where we live, we were excited to see all the beers that were on tap and wanted to start our own beer tasting right away. Then we saw the menu at the Tap House Grille — which features pizzas — and we were in the car ready for sampling of both food and drink.

The wood-fired pizzas aren’t the main focus at this Hooksett bar and grill, which is fine with us, since we plan on going back to try a number of items on the menu. We are also happy to see that they are taking advantage of some of the great summer produce from local farms in the area.

Pizzas here are basically a personal size, but we also thought it was a great option for splitting along with a few appetizers, which is what we did one recent Saturday night. Pizzas, featuring homemade marinara, start at $9. Vegetable toppings, such as sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions, are $1.50, while the meatier choices, such as smoked chicken and sauteed chicken, ring up at $3 each.

There are seven options for specialty pies at the Tap House Grille, such as the classic Margherita ($11), with roma tomatoes, basil, garlic and fresh mozzarella; the Southwest Vegetarian ($11), which packs flavor with seasoned corn, black beans, red onion, red bell pepper and mozzarella over fresh pico de gallo; and the Gamberi ($13), covered with garlic and wine sauteed shrimp, maple bacon, caramelized onions and shredded mozzarella over a pesto sauce.

Review: We settled on the simple Meatball pizza ($12), which featured smoked meatballs, cheddar and mozzarella over marinara sauce.

Deidre was a little hesitant about the cheddar on her pizza. While she adores cheddar with crackers as a snack (watch out if you invite her over as a dinner guest!), she hasn’t really ever taken to it with pizza. Especially since it’s usually featured in Greek pizzas. Luckily, after the first bite, she thought it worked. She thinks because it’s such a natural combination with the meat, and since it wasn’t used as heavily as the mozzarella, it was to her liking here. Both cheeses melted well, and in Deidre’s opinion, this light pizza wasn’t weighed down by either one. Andrew begged to differ, though, as he thought it was just a bit too much cheese. He thought it made the pizza a bit too heavy – even if the cheese was delicious.

One thing that definitely did weigh the pizza down were the huge meatball pieces – on that we were agreed. The meatball pieces were cut quite thick, and Deidre found herself maneuvering around the slices with silverware. She thinks they could have been halved and spread around the pie a little more. We were both big fans of the meatballs here: They were a little juicy and not dried out at all. These were definitely not an afterthought – the zestiness in each bite showed a great attention to detail.

The crust was super thin, which makes the light pizza a great summer dinner. Deidre noted that it was only crispy right at the very edge of the outer crust. While she saw some black grill marks on the bottom, she thought the rest of the pizza could have benefited from the same crispiness. Just a little bit longer in the oven would have done the trick for her. Andrew agreed, and that may have contributed (along with the tortilla-thin crust) to his feeling that this was just a really hefty quesadilla.

Our biggest disappointment was the lack of sauce. It’s been a running theme of a lot of pizzas we’ve tried lately, that the sauce just isn’t there. While Deidre could see some around the edges, she just couldn’t taste it underneath the meat and cheeses. She loves a good marinara, so the fact that she couldn’t taste it was a bit of a bummer. For Andrew, the sauce was so lacking, he couldn’t even provide a description of it.

When digging into the cold pizza, Andrew couldn’t shake that quesadilla feeling. The cheese and meatball dominated each bite, making it just too heavy.

Rating: Deidre: 3.5 / Andrew: 3 = 6.5/10 slices

New England’s Tap House Grille
1292 Hooksett Road, Hooksett
782-5137, TapHouseNH.com

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