Hersh’s Pizza & Drinks is no ordinary pizza joint. And it’s not as plain as its simple name suggests either. It’s actually a sweetheart of a neighborhood restaurant and shows the love of its owner/sibling team Josh and Stephanie Hershkovitz.
The Owings Mills natives collaborated to revamp the space once occupied by Rub, a Texas barbecue place. They’ve transformed the South Baltimore corner restaurant, located in a pocket of industrial warehouses and urban homesteading, into a sleek, citified bar and dining room.
Diners enter into a dark-wood bar area, where they can linger for drinks and food, or they can ascend to the second floor—a well-lit, spacious area offering an attractive minimalist setting with wainscoting, murals, bare tables, and wood floors. There’s also an outdoor patio for the warmer months.
Its namesake dish dominates the menu, showcased in 12-inch pies cooked in a wood-burning oven. Choices range from a simple cheese or tomato to more adventurous combos like kale and pistachio or prosciutto and arugula.
We settled on a clam pizza, dotted with buttery bivalve morsels and boosted with parsley, lemon undertones, garlic, and nippy Pecorino Romano cheese. We threw on anchovies, well, because we could. Other additional toppings include house-made sausage, fried eggplant, and olives for a few extra bucks.
We started with the prosciutto balls. These are wonderfully updated mozzarella sticks. The ricotta-mozzarella-Italian ham filling takes the traditional bar fare to an upscale level, complete with chunky, fresh marinara. We also liked the braised-chickpeas small plate but could have done without the olive-oil immersion. The beans, flavorful with feta and rosemary, were served in a dish lapping in oil, making dipping the crispy bread slices difficult and drippy. Hersh’s also has a selection of crostini, salads, and, not to be overlooked, house-made pastas like tagliatelle with asparagus, mint, pistachios, and chevre.
Josh Hershkovitz, who cooked at Charleston and Petit Louis, is the force behind the restaurant’s food. He also brought in another Charleston alum, Jamaal Green, as head bartender. That explains the clever cocktails on the bar menu. But you can imagine our surprise when we spotted The Basoco, a drink named after Baltimore magazine’s executive editor Dick Basoco. “Jamaal needs to get a life,” our boss joked after learning about the creation featuring two different whiskeys, honey syrup, and ginger beer.
The homemade desserts are another treat. The mini lemon/rosemary doughnuts were served hot in a small paper bag. The frangipane with almond paste and walnuts in a golden pastry with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a dab of caramel was rich in sultry flavors.
In an area where there aren’t many restaurants, the Hershkovitzes have created a welcome food oasis for area residents. But, really, everyone else should go, too.