Nighthawk Serves Up Pizza and Beer With ’90s Flair

The Westpost newcomer from chef Johnny Spero, restaurateur Scott Parker and Aslin Beer Co. pairs thin-crust pies with low-ABV brews.
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Nighthawk Pizza, now open in Westpost, serves 16-inch, thin-crust pies alongside low-ABV brews from Aslin Beer Co. (Photo by Hawkeye Johnson)

Stop by Westpost in Pentagon City and you now have the option of popping into a TJ Maxx … or a pizza-and-beer joint that looks an awful lot like Saved by the Bell’s The Max.

Nighthawk Brewery & Pizzaa new collaboration from chef Johnny Spero, restaurateur Scott Parker and Aslin Beer Co.opened March 24 in Westpost, the recently renamed clutch of restaurants and shops formerly known as Pentagon Row. The 10,000-square-foot beer hall and pizzeria, stationed beside Taiwanese gua bao depot Bun’d Up and opposite Irish pub Mattie & Eddie’s, sports latticework accents and loads of electric blue squiggles on the walls. And any similarities to the iconic hangout spot of ’90s TV lore are intentional.

“I grew up in the ’90s,” says Aslin co-founder Andrew Kelley.

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A few years ago, Aslin co-founder Andrew Kelley envisioned a pizza parlor and brewpub, with a distinctly Saved by the Bell vibe. (Photo by Eliza Tebo)

Now 35, the Northern Virginia native says he spent a good deal of time at Pizza Hut in his youth, and worked with D.C.-based design firm 3877 to combine that vibe with the now-retro Memphis design style exemplified in the aesthetics of The Max.

About three years ago, Kelley got the idea to open a brewpub-meets-pizza parlor in the D.C. area after visiting Pizza Port Brewing in San Diego, California.

“We really liked the concept of bringing families together, bringing people together through pizza and good beer,” he says.

Now teamed up with Spero (the celebrated chef at Georgetown’s Reverie and a onetime competitor on Netflix’s The Final Table) and Parker, Aslin is playing a prominent role at Nighthawk. Ten beers are on tap, with crowler options and as many as 10 more rotating taps on the way. All of the brews are meant for pairing with pizza and burgers, and have an ABV that’s 5% or lower.

“You don’t want like a 16% stout because that’s going to fill you up,” Kelley says. Instead, the opening-day beer list includes a kellerbier, a pistachio brown ale and one of Kelley’s personal recommendations, the margarita sour IPA.

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The OKC onion burger is smothered with caramelized onions, pickled jalapeños, American cheese and smoked mayo. (Photo by Hawkeye Johnson)

Eight wines are also available by the glass or bottle, as well as several cocktails, cider and non-alcoholic, house-made draft root beer.

Customers can feel free to take any of the aforementioned beverages on a stroll around Westpost’s central plaza, where patrons are permitted to walk the premises with an alcoholic beverage in hand. An outdoor bar at Nighthawk is also in the works.

The pizzaa 16-inch thin crust pie, sliced grid-wisecomes in seven varieties, including potato (confit potato, parsley, stracciatella, mozzarella and bravas sauce) and littleneck clam (pecorino, fontina, roasted garlic, oregano, basil, white sauce). The options also include a Wagyu beef hot dog and a burger (a menu item for which Spero is known). The OKC onion burger is topped with American cheese, caramelized onion, smoked mayo and pickled jalapeños.

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Pick up a bumper sticker, T-shirt or branded beer glass on your way out. (Photo by Eliza Tebo)

Though there are oodles of places to pick up a pizza in Arlington, Parkerthe dogged entrepreneur behind Poppyseed Rye, Bearded Goat Barber, Bronson Bierhall and several other local conceptsclaims nothing’s quite like Nighthawk.

“This is the best pizza and beer that you can get in an Arlington bar, no question,” he says. “Johnny’s pizza is amazing, and what these guys have done with beer is, quite frankly, I think untouchable.”

Near the restaurant’s double doors, visitors will find several shelves stocked with merch that is tempting to touch. With Nighthawk-branded bumper stickers, T-shirts and flat-billed baseball caps, there is plenty of flair to keep the ’90s vibes going.

Nighthawk Brewery & Pizza is located at 1201 S. Joyce St., Arlington. The restaurant is open Sunday-Thursday from 3-10 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 3 p.m.-1 a.m. It will add lunch service in the coming months. 


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Categories: Food & Drink