The first thing that becomes obvious as you approach Tomato Head is that you won’t enter the same door patrons have entered since 1990 when Tomato Head opened as a lunch spot. The entrance at 12 Market Square will now be primarily for servers assisting patrons at the outdoor patio. The new entrance is at 14 Market Square, most recently the entrance to Marble Slab prior to their closing.
The first thing you’ll notice as you enter is that the baked goods selection has been increased and sits just inside the door. The Flour head bakery located outside downtown, but just a few minutes away, will keep the store stocked in cookies, cupcakes, monkey bread and more traditional breads like baguettes. I have to say, I couldn’t help myself: I bought a baguette on the spot and launched into it before I got home. It was amazing – just the right hardness on the outside and soft on the inside.
Once inside, you’ll spot familiar motifs like the woman pulling pizza from the oven and those comforting hardwood floors, but you’ll also notice some changes. The beer taps have gone from six to nineteen and represent eleven breweries – all of which are local or regional. One oddity is that – at least at this time – there are no tap-heads, so you’ll have to look at the menu to see what’s offered. A smaller taste is included in the menu so you can sample several beers at one sitting.
A large open doorway connects the two addresses, but once through the arch, you’ll notice changes to the old space. The once raised platform just inside the door is now at floor level and the counter is gone. This left the floors a mess, but that will change, soon. The kitchen is still located at the front, but even as it functions, its replacement is being built at the rear of the expanded store. Completion of that project is expected in about six weeks, at which point the restaurant will close again. Owner Mahaste Vafaie told me this will allowthem to “complete the current dining room by replacing all the floors, getting new lighting, and adding booth seating.” She says they are very excited about the changes. The design work has been done by Sanders Pace Architecture Firm.
Once reopened, diners will find much expanded seating both inside and outside, making room for about sixty additional patrons. The menu should remain the same, with the exception of the expanded beer offerings. Booth seating may be a possibility in the future, but bar seating is available now. The restaurant also plans to work with a different organization or charity each month with $3 from certain sandwich and draft beer pairing going toward their cause.
A special thanks goes to Paul Arena and Dustin Chamberlain for patiently answering my questions – and to Paul for the great pose with the taps. I brought Urban Woman back for a meal later and Urban Girl in a couple of days later for some cupcakes. Everyone was friendly and warm, the food was excellent, and who can argue with more of a good thing? Go by and check it out.