Pizza with a View

Saturday, September 12, 2015

 Back when I started this blog, one of the first places I wanted to share with you all, was Harvest & Hearth.  Not only do they have amazing, organic, fresh wood fired pizza....they serve it all up with a spectacular view and great atmosphere.  John and I paid them a visit last night and were reminded just how wonderful this place is.  I thought it appropriate to bring back this post for all my new followers who may have missed it in the past.  For many, many months, this post was my #1 most popular post!  No wonder why!!

I think by now you know I like the out of the way, less well known spots.  It's not that I dislike the chain restaurants, but if given the option I prefer the little family owned restaurants for a "dining-in" experience, the places that know their regular customers.  I like places that have a unique atmosphere, servers who are long-time employees or family, and food that is not what I can get at my local joint.  Harvest and Hearth is exactly this kind of place.
Harvest and Hearth was opened in 2008 by Peter and Gina Michelin.  Offering a limited menu of pizza, soup, and salad......the flavors and varieties will not leave you disappointed.  In fact, the opposite is true.  What they do - they do with perfection.  I had visited Harvest and Hearth a number of times over the years, but I will admit I haven't been in some time.   Harvest and Hearth is a little "out of the way" on Stafford's Bridge Road in Saratoga Springs.  It sits on the shore of Fish Creek right next to the Kayak Shack.  Although open year round, my favorite time to visit is in the warm weather when I can enjoy the view of the colorful kayaks - both stacked waiting for use and sauntering down the creek.  Last evening was so beautiful, we knew it was the perfect night to enjoy some great food and atmosphere.

Jane was our waitress.  She was not only polite and experienced, but graciously helped me select a beer to go with my pizza.  I am not normally a beer drinker, but Harvest and Hearth offers a wide variety of organic New York State and New England beers and wines, as well as some of your regular favorites.   I ended up with Peak IPA from Peak Brewery in Portland, ME.  Don't expect me to give you some fancy worded beer description, because that would be far from my expertise, but suffice to say, it was yummy and went great with my dinner. 

 It's important to Peter and Gina to support local and organic farming communities in NYS and New England.  Most of their produce is locally grown, certified natural and organic.  Their dough is made with Saratoga Springs water.  Their meats are free range and/or nitrate and antiobiotic free.   The importance of their passion for supporting local and organic was evidenced last night in the "chefs' wardrobe".  Peter and his two pizza chefs donned t-shirts saying "Go Local" and "Go Organic".  Now don't let the organic/natural description scare you.  This in no way lessens the incredible flavor of the offerings here at Harvest and Hearth.  You traditionalists who shudder at the words "all natural" and organic can just put your reservations aside because there won't be one iota of deliciousness missing from your meal.

When it comes to pizza, you'll have your choice of 7 different pizzas, plus the option of  putting together your own creation.  We chose the "Natural" with sun dried tomato pesto, carmelized onions, organic mushrooms, nitrate free maple fennel sausage, all natural whole milk mozzarella cheese and herbs.  We split an "individual" for $8.95 (even though we didn't think we were hungry, I admit I would have loved one or two more pieces).  A full-sized pizza would have been $17.95.  I normally don't prefer a thin crust, but here the crust is so deliciously tender, yet crisp, that I believe it is what makes the pizza perfect. On previous visits, I have enjoyed their Epiphany pizza with calamata olives, roasted red peppers, red onions, local goat cheese and fresh mozzarella - YUMMY.   We've also had the "Shrooms" pizza with a blend of wild mushrooms, carmelized onions, fontina and mozzarella cheese....double yum!

Harvest and Hearth also offers two salads on their everyday menu along with a "special of the day", which last night consisted of fresh spring greens with mandarin oranges, rasberries, roasted pumpkin seeds and a delicious shallot vinergarette dressing.  The dressing was light and just enough on this fresh, spring salad.  John and I split this salad and loved every bite.  One of my other favorite salads is Mamie's Poppy with organic poached pears, fire roasted pecans, fresh local goat cheese and fresh, homemade, natural poppy seed dressing over organic  greens.   
Homemade soup of the day is also available as well as a couple of homemade deserts, including a Root Beer Float and a Hot Brownie Sundae with all natural vanilla ice cream and organic whipped cream.......and let me just say - this is decadent and delicious.

Harvest and Hearth cooks their pizza in a wood-fired oven and last night we got lucky and had "front row" seats so I was mesmerized watching the pros do their magic.   One of the two pizza chefs did nothing (during our stay) but prepare the crust.   He'd knead, flip, stretch and "Voila!," a beautiful, tender, thin crust would be placed on a pizza board with a long handle.   I was tired just watching as he prepared one crust after another after another.   Then a second chef would "dress" the pizza with just the right ingredients and would neatly line up his almost finished products on a long table to await their turn in the hot oven.  Peter was the last, but maybe most important, part of the process.  After sprinkling each pizza with just the right amount of freshly chopped herbs, he puts each pizza into the inferno.  During the process, he pulls out each pizza, gives it a spin and slides it back in for it's final few minutes.  Finally, when he deems the pizza to be perfectly baked, out comes the finished masterpiece, which he aptly slides either onto it's tray or into a box for take out.   This whole process goes on like a very practiced dance and watching, you know these guys have done this many, many times.   The proof is in the pudding......or in this case the pizza!  

Peter "at work"
Harvest and Hearth is a place to go for great food, a great view, good service and a great philosophy.  In the words of Peter and Gina Michelin "In sharing a meal at Harvest & Hearth, you are choosing sustainability, conservation, simplicity, integrity, loyalty, and the importance of family and home."  
While you're there, take a few minutes to enjoy the view.  If you are the adventurous type, rent a kayak from the Kayak Shack and meander up the creek.  How many places can you go for pizza that you can do that?    Exactly!   Watch for my next post on another cool place to visit when you go to Harvest and Hearth.  It's title is "Finding Your Happy Place".  And check out the links below to explore their website, menu and hours.
(Note: Peter and his staff had no idea I planned on featuring them in my blog.  It wasn't until Peter came over to ask how our meal was before we left that I told him I'd be featuring Harvest and Hearth in my next blog post.) 

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