In Orange, New Jersey, Star Tavern has served beers and bar snacks for more than six decades, a neighborhood haunt with a casual atmosphere. However, most people know the bar for its pizza: super thin, triangle-cut pies somewhat similar to Chicago tavern or Minnesota thin-crust pizza, with toppings all the way to the edges. Its pizza has earned praise from the New York Times, plus a slate of loyal regulars.
2,881 miles away, restaurateur Aaron Barnes wants to try to recreate that style of pizza in a new Southeast Portland sports bar. Hopscotch, set to open ahead of the Super Bowl on Hawthorne, will serve cocktails on tap, East Coast bar snacks, and New Jersey tavern-style pizza.
Barnes, the owner of jazz bar and restaurant the 1905 and Broadway Italian restaurant Scholar, has become something of a pizza aficionado. All of his restaurants serve some sort of pizza, though they tend to hew closer to traditional New York style. However, considering the nature of the sports bar, Barnes felt that New Jersey-style made more sense.
“It’s like fancy Totino’s,” he says. “There’s an accessibility that doesn’t feel as pretentious. It’s everyday pizza.”
The pizzas at Hopscotch will start with dough made using Shepherd’s Grain flours, rolled thin with a rolling pin. Pies will come with typical toppings, like green peppers, onions, olives, fresh tomatoes, and pepperoni. Gluten-free pizzas will be available as well, made with Caputo’s gluten-free flour.
Outside of pizza, the menu will stick to bar staples like burgers, nachos, and fries, as well as things like fried oysters and fried avocados with remoulade. Chef Grahme Meneses will offer three different varieties of wings: Buffalo, gochujang, and dry-rubbed (also known as “The Business.”). “The idea isn’t to reinvent the wheel,” Barnes says. “We want to be a family friendly sports bar with a fast-paced drink program.”
For Hopscotch, “fast-paced” generally refers to focusing on tapped drinks. Beyond the 21 beers on tap, the bar will pre-batch and tap cocktails like Manhattans, Negronis, Aperol spritzes, and margaritas. The rest of the taps will be set aside for wine and root beer. The bar will have a handful of bottles of spirits, as well, for more specialized drinks. “We have an ability to make other things, but efficiency is important,” says co-owner Colin Jensen.
The bar itself will have 150 seats inside, plus a back patio for sunny days; the team is hoping to open the bar by February 1, or by the Super Bowl at the latest. For now, the bar’s sister cafe, Hopscotch Coffee, is serving Roseline espresso and house-baked pastries next door.
Hopscotch is opening at 4334 SE Hawthorne Blvd.