Pizza joints don’t typically earn a reputation for their cocktails, but a new Sixth Ward bar is looking to change that.
Betelgeuse Betelgeuse, which opened its doors at 2101 Washington Avenue two months ago, is baking up crispy, cheesy pizzas and pairing them with high-brow cocktails.
With the help of consultant Anthony Calleo, the chef behind Rudyards and the now-closed Pi Pizza, each ironclad-style 14-inch pie is topped with homemade sauce and Wisconsin brick cheese before it’s cooked in a round cast iron pan, making for crunchy, cheese-laced edges that are reminiscent of but far cheesier than that of a Detroit-style pizza, according to owner Chris Cusack.
While guests can dine indoors — there’s enough seating for 99 people, to be exact, the restaurant has prioritized its 2,000-square-foot patio as a place to eat and mingle, with room to seat around 150.
Signature pizzas include the Pepps pizza, made with natural-cased pepperoni; the Sausage Feta, which is topped with confit onions and feta cheese; and constellation-inspired combinations like the Alpha Centauri, featuring house-made sausage, sautéed peppers, Calabrian chili oil, and orange zest. Appetizers and other dishes include Buffalo wings, a classic cheeseburger cooked in the pizza oven, pizza fries, and Space Balls, a doughy cross between beignets and garlic bread.
Despite its standout food, Cusack, who previously owned Down House for a decade before closing it last summer, says Betelgeuse Betelgeuse is a cocktail bar first and foremost.
Its drink list includes various frozen options, including a frosé-based cocktail and its Half-Frozen French 75, martinis of the gin and vodka variety, and creative cocktails and mixed shots. Guests can get trippy with the Mommy, What’s a Funkadelic?, made with tepache, mezcal, lime, pineapple, and vanilla; the mezcal-based Red Star, mixed with dark rum Aperol, Campari, agave, and hellfire shrub; or the black-colored Lemon Drop, a riff on a classic that is fashioned to look like outer space and can be downed as a shot or sipped as a martini.
The intergalactic motif extends to the restaurant design. Though the name is pronounced like “Beetlejuice,” the Tim Burton character, astronomy fans will recognize the name Betelgeuse — the bright red supergiant star in the Orion constellation — as the namesake, which pours into the restaurant’s overall ethereal decor.
Spearheaded by Brittany Vaughan of Garnish Design, the moody Octagon Room appears to be a mini-museum of surreal art, faux stained glass, and taxidermy, while the Solarium Room is appropriately the brightest in the house. The Sci-Fi Hallway — a true selfie opportunity — is lined with infinity mirrors, LED light fixtures shaped like UFOs, and walls and floors depicting the solar system.
Betelgeuse Betelgeuse is open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
Update: This article has been updated to include the correct spelling of Betelgeuse Betelgeuse’s owner Chris Cusack.