A few weeks ago we stopped into Birra, a pizza and beer restaurant right in the heart of bustling E. Passyunk Avenue. Open for only a few months now, Birra has had no problem finding it's stride.
The tight restaurant and bar was packed when we arrived, and since they don't take reservations (too casual and small for such a thing), we put our name on the list, were given a thirty minute estimate on the wait, the host took our phone number, and we scooted a block up the road for drinks at Salt and Pepper's more sedate bar. Thirty minutes later our phone rang, and a table was waiting for us when we walked in Birra.
Birra means beer in Italian, so of course Birra has a strong beer list to match it's name. I was a bit concerned that Birra did not offer wine, since it's not listed on the online menu, but fear not; they have wine!
We hit most of the vegetarian items on the menu that came recommended by our server, although there are plenty more veggie dishes to hit, even though the menu is short and sweet.
The roasted veggie salad with mixed greens, seasonal vegetables, and balsamic mustard vignette is served with a few triangles of flat bread. Winter squash is in season, but I'm not sure how seasonal the zucchini and cured tomatoes are. Those tomatoes were the best part of the already likeable and sizable salad, so I'm not really complaining. The chewy and concentrated flavors of the cured tomatoes were, again, the best part of the red sauced, roasted vegetable pizza. At twelve inches, Birra's thin crust pizzas are perfect for splitting with another person. The mac and cheese pizza at Birra is not the first time I've had such a doubly carb loaded disk. The concept of such a pizza is not as bad as it sounds, and also not as interesting as it sounds. This menu item didn't come recommended, but I had to give it a go anyway.
Black pepper is about the only stand out flavor on this pizza, and considering that Birra's pizza crust is a bit bland, you really want to order a pizza with more flavor umpf at Birra. I'm thinking the mac and cheese pizza would be better ordered as a "Birra bowl" — any pizza toppings and sauce baked in a bowl with a pizza crust laid on top like a pot pie.
The roasted veggie panini with cured tomatoes, zucchini, basil pesto, and provolone was actually my favorite of the night with big flavors, crusty bread, and small pitcher of their sweet tomato sauce for dipping.
Birra may not have my favorite pizza crust in town (everyone has an opinion about that!), but their vegetable toppings are fresh and flavorful. The atmosphere is casual and lively, making Birra a perfect spot to grab a drink or meal while taking in a game on one of their many sports-tuned televisions, or, you know, just to hang with some friends
1700 E Passyunk Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19148