ironclad pies, o my!
New cocktail bar from familiar Heights name now slinging pizza and drinks on Washington Avenue
A new bar that combines two of Houstonians' favorite things — cocktails and pizza — has opened on Washington Ave. Betelgeuse Betelgeuse quietly opened in May in the former Liberty Station space at 2101 Washington Ave.
Named for a red supergiant start in the Orion constellation, Betelgeuse is owned by veteran restaurateur Chris Cusack. It's his first new project since he closed his Heights restaurant Down House in 2021.
As with any bar, cocktails lead the offerings. Betelgeuse's menu includes a section devoted to martinis with options that include a freezer martini (50-50 gin and vermouth), an on-trend espresso martini, and a build-your-own option that allows patrons to choose vodka or gin, classic or dirty, and of course, shaken or stirred. Other sections include boozy drinks such as a barrel-aged Old Fashioned and a classic Manhattan and a selection of high balls that features an Aperol sprtiz, a "really good gin & tonic," and a cherry vanilla Coke made with cherry-vanilla-infused Knob Creek bourbon and Mexican Coke.
Beyond cocktails, Betelgeuse serves a style of pizza its describing as "ironclad." Similar to Detroit-style, the restaurant bakes its pies in cast iron pans that give the crust a layer of crispy cheese. Unlike Detroit pizzas, which are rectangular, Betelguese's pizzas are 14-inch, round pies, which means every slice has a crispy edge. Dough, sauce, and sausage are all made in-house using recipes developed by Anthony Calleo, the chef and co-owner of Montrose staple Rudyard's who also operated Pi Pizza as both a food truck and restaurant.
Pizza options include a classic Pepperoni; the Sausage-Feta (sausage, confit onions, and feta cheese); Classico Nuovo (pepperoni, mushrooms, feta cheese, and chili flakes); Hercules Hercules (pepperoni, sausage, pancetta, and Genoa salami, the Alpha Centauri (sausage, sautéed peppers, Calabrian chili oil, and orange zest); and more. Other choices on the menu include fries topped with a diner's choice of garlic, parmesan, and basil or pizza fries topped with pizza sauce, Wisconsin brick cheese, pepperoni, salami, and Calabrian chilis. Other options include wings and a burger that's baked in the bar's pizza oven.
One word of warning. The pizza has been so popular that it can take awhile to prepare. Until a new oven can be installed, those whose primary interest is pizza are advised to come early during weekdays for the fastest service.
Cusack worked with designer Brittany Vaughan of Garnish Design, the same person behind spaces such as Theodore Rex and Rice Village wine bar Lees Den, to transform Liberty Station into Betelgeuse. Detail include the Octagon Room that's decorated with taxidermy, plants, and art as well as the Sci-Fi Hallway that features an infinity mirror and LED UFO light fixtures. Overall, the bar offers seating for 99 in 1,700-square-feet of interior space with room for 150 on the 2,000-square-foot patio. Fans of the Tim Burton film Beetlejuice will be highly amused by the bar's sign.
“Betelgeuse Betelgeuse is a cocktail bar––but it’s fun," Cusack said in a statement. "Whether you want a Lone Star and a shot or an artisan cocktail, you will feel comfortable here. We have the best pizza in Houston, too. I’m so grateful. There’s nothing like looking around and seeing people having fun in your bar.”