Hearth + Press: Downtown Casual Elegance

I’ve been on the hunt for some wood fired pizza at a sit-down restaurant where I could enjoy a meal with the company of friends. Working in Buffalo’s Theater District downtown, I’ve had my eye on Heath + Press, aware of their Stone Hearth Pizzas and Mediterranean menu. So I thought this might be the perfect next stop for me!

Occasion

In moving to a new city (I can’t believe it’s already been five months here in Buffalo!), it can be difficult to make new friends. I’m one of those rare extroverted introverts—I can certainly carry a conversation and get out of my comfort zone, but I’m eager for alone time some days too (pizza nights in, obvs).

Oddly enough, this blog itself has been a gateway to meeting people in the Buffalo community. I recently invited a few of my new friends, whom of which are bloggers, marketers, artists and all around talented people. Check them out: Succulents and Sunnies, Clearing Preppy’s Name, Sandra Arianna Photography.

We all gathered at Hearth + Press for a meal following our work day as the holidays were right around the corner. Conversation flowed from holiday plans, to broken devices (sorry Sandy), to best local brunch spots, and to pizza, of course. Plus, our fate of eating whatever we desired during the holiday season probably began with this meal, at least for me it did.

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Selection

As the holiday stress was sizing up, this evening called for wine. I went with the Pinot Grigio, a light, crisp pairing with any pizza. Based off of the casual elegance of the restaurant, beer didn’t seem like the right choice for this atmosphere. The wine was good for sure, but a bit over-priced. To put things into perspective, I could purchase a whole bottle for the half-glass I received.

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Hearth + Press had the ideal menu—not too limited, not too overwhelming. I appreciated that they segmented their pizza list by red and white. Not many pizza places have a lengthy list of white pizzas, so it was nice to see such a variety of what they were capable of making.

I shared the red cheese+pepperoni and added roasted red peppers, and we also ordered the white four cheese, which had goat, fontina, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, and… wait for it… honey. We were all a little skeptical if honey would make the pizza too sweet, but our waitress assured us it actually complimented the cheeses well.

Since there were four of us, we went with two pizzas. Afterwards though, we all agreed that we probably should have gotten a third. Everyone was able to eat three small-to-medium slices, but it would have been nice to have an additional slice to eat or take home.

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Atmosphere

Almost right across from Shea’s Performing Arts Center, and near other downtown destinations like Alleyway Theatre and Tralf Music Hall, Hearth + Press is a perfect location in the downtown Theater District right on Main St. If you’re going to see a play, attend a sporting event, go to a concert or just want to explore the city, I recommend stopping in for your meal here.

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I’m not sure if it was the holiday season vibes, or my unfamiliarity with the area still, but Hearth + Press felt so cozy and comfortable, yet had this urban elegance and excitement around it. I loved the exposed ceilings, the thick wooden tables, the hanging light fixtures, the lounge chairs for couples along the window, and just about everything else about the aesthetic. I knew upfront the cuisine was Mediterranean, so I assumed the decor would resemble that, but I liked that it felt like Buffalo to me.

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ProTip #2: Great Friends Make Good Food Taste Better

Honestly, one of my favorite things to do is go out to eat. Not to spend my money, not to avoid cooking at home, not to take pictures of my food, but to really enjoy spending time with others over a meal. I’m not great at small talk, but sharing a meal with someone, in some ways, can make it easier to converse with and get to know them. It may bring out conversation about family, interests, and their life.

That being said, we had a lot to discuss when it came to this pizza! I wish I wasn’t so hungry by the time to pizza came to the table, because it was quite floppy and thin, but it was just SO. DANG. GOOD. I should have been more patient by letting it thicken up and cool down a little.

My favorite part about this pizza was the cheese. It’s fresh taste complimented the sauce and toppings well. I love when a pizza is cooked to perfection—I would have loved to watch it cook in the Stone Hearth oven!

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For those of you wondering about opinions on the white four cheese honey pizza, it got positive feedback! We all ate so fast, both pizzas were gone in no time. I reluctantly did not try any of the white, but my friends had said that it was certainly for cheese-lovers. The honey blended right in the pizza, giving it a hint of sweetness.

Between the wine, the stone hearth oven-style pizza and the downtown scenery, Hearth + Press does a great job of bringing elegance and class in a casual, comfortable way. Plus I loved their decor and am considering getting a pizza sign for my own kitchen!

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Pizza & love,

Mandy

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