Pizza was the last thing I expected to order at the Echo Tap, the venerable, 70-year-old tavern on the corner of Bedford and Main streets. But when a friend and I walked in one recent weeknight to mark a birthday, there seemed to be pizzas on almost every table.
Then some acquaintances came up and raved about it.
There are eight specialty pizzas here, but Jacey's white pizza ($12.50 for the smallest, 12 inches) was labeled the staff favorite. So how could we resist, even though we prefer pizza with tomato sauce? Despite our acquaintances recommending the hand-tossed, we went with the "New York thin crust."
After it came out, however, we had to check with the waiter to make sure it was the thin crust, because to our mind, it could have passed as a thicker, hand-tossed pie. But he assured us it was the correct pizza.
That said, the pizza, which was cut into squares instead of triangular slices, smelled amazing. And the combination of ingredients worked well, particularly the sun-dried tomatoes, ricotta cheese and artichoke hearts (it also had mozzarella, baby spinach and garlic sauce). Still, I wasn't able to get around my preference for tomato sauce. To me it tasted more like cheese bread.
Overall, though, it was very good pizza for a bar. Most pizza parlors would be proud to serve it.
If you're in the mood for a burger, you won't go wrong with the signature Echo Burger ($7.50) with its one beef patty and one brat patty, American and pepper jack cheeses and fried onions. We ordered ours with cheddar instead of American cheese. Both patties were moist and flavorful, and the bun was small and soft. A problem with so many burgers is an oversized bun.
Besides being good-natured about the cheese switch and remembering to cut the burger in half, our server agreed to substitute sweet potato fries for the regular fries that come with the burger. The fries were thick cut with ridges and were appropriately salty, but the sweet potato flavor was not distinct, and they needed ketchup or some other dipping sauce to make them more palatable.
While it seemed strange to order French onion soup in a bar, the soup of the day ($3.50 for a bowl) had a deep onion flavor to its broth and the right quantities of cheese, bread and onion.
The Echo rolled out its new menu, complete with the pizzas, when it completed renovations in September. The place was spruced up and the walls now carry their limit in TVs (17, I'm told). There's also a new patio, for what it's worth in January.
The main room downstairs was a bit drafty, but worse, it was loud, even for a bar, at 6 p.m. on a weeknight. Our ever-accommodating server did agree to turn down the music a little.
The tavern has a decent happy hour ($2 less for beer pitchers, 75 cents less for other drinks from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday), so the place was packed.
My friend had a MadCity Cocktails and Meals discount book, which entitles the user to a free drink when you buy one. So we tried one of the Echo's specialty cocktails, the Main Street Magic Mix ($7.50 normally, $6.75 at happy hour) with Malibu rum, orange vodka, peach schnapps, triple sec, pineapple and orange juice. It was served in a pint glass and did all right for a tropical drink in a beer-and-shot type of place.
The Echo recently started delivering pizzas Thursday through Sunday nights and hopes to expand delivery service to all day every day.
And if you ask nicely, maybe they'll bring you that Echo Burger, too.