Credit: David Amini

A newly engaged couple who met working at Tail Up Goat are opening a cozy Mount Pleasant restaurant specializing in Neapolitan-style pizzas paired with wine. Martha Dear from Tara L. Smith and Chef Demetri Mechelis should debut by late 2020 at 3110 Mt. Pleasant St. NW. It’s going into the basement unit below Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream where Pupuseria San Miguel previously operated.

Martha is Mechelis’ mother. She cried when the young couple broke the news that their first restaurant would carry her name, according to Smith. “She’s the lifeblood of that family,” she says. “She’s made me feel welcome from day one. She’s exactly what you want in terms of hospitality. I could not think of a nicer lady. I’m super excited to call her mother-in-law.” 

Mechelis will make Neapolitan-style pizzas and Mediterranean specials that nod at his Greek heritage. The menu will change based on what ingredients are seasonally available. Smith will develop a list of funky wines that play well with pizza, plus canned and bottled beers. If they do cocktails, they’ll be batched because that’s what the space allows.

“The kitchen is behind the bar,” Smith explains. “When you sidle up to the bar, your food will be served by the people who cook it.” The roughly 40-seat restaurant will have two distinct spaces—a moody, dimly lit front room and a smaller area in the back with skylights. 

The couple lives near Martha Dear. “We picked this neighborhood for a reason,” Smith says. “There’s a mix of families and singles. We’re sort of in those crossroads ourselves. We’re two singles coming together about to get married. We’re starting and building our future and eventually our family. It’s a community that we want to be in and support the growth of. [Martha Dear] will be a place for you to grab a bite on the way home or bring your date.”

Smith found her way to the hospitality industry after working for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and later, as a teacher. She’s currently serving at Tail Up Goat, but her resume also includes front-of-house jobs at Room 11 and Little Serow. Mechelis most recently served as the executive sous chef at Ellē. He’s currently apprenticing in New York with the team behind Pizzeria Ops and newcomer, Leo

Above all else, Smith says she’s excited to work side-by-side with her fiancé. “It’s just going to be really fun,” she says. “It’s a small little place. We’re not looking to be anything other than what we are, which is pizza and fun wine and the occasional octopus I hope. This is our future.”

Martha Dear, 3110 Mt. Pleasant St. NW