Millhouse opening in Europa space in Tacoma’s Proctor neighborhood
Coming soon to Tacoma’s Proctor neighborhood is Millhouse, a restaurant specializing in artisan pizzas, hand-made pasta, sandwiches and salads that will operate at 2515 N. Proctor St.
The restaurant will have dual concepts under one roof: A family-friendly casual restaurant on one side and a sophisticated speakeasy-bar on the other with cocktails.
The cocktail bar and restaurant will be under the same name: Millhouse, but the bar will come with a fun nickname (I’ll write more about that in the next story). If all goes as planned, it’ll open this spring.
Millhouse comes from owners who local wood-fired pizza fans will know and appreciate – Millville Pizza Co. in Gig Harbor, home to some of my favorite wood-fired pizza in the county. That restaurant just celebrated its fifth anniversary and will continue to operate as it always has.
“We’re excited to expand to the Proctor neighborhood,” said John Ross, who co-owns Millville and the upcoming Millhouse with wife Alyssa.
Millhouse will open in the former home of Europa Bistro. Co-owners Alfredo and Justine Russo served their last meals at the restaurant last week. Europa Bistro opened in 2000 and was a longtime neighborhood anchor along with Proctor haunts Pomodoro and Knapp’s. Millhouse will operate next to Ice Cream Social, which opened its Proctor store in October.
EUROPA AND MILLHOUSE CONNECTION
Ross said he and his wife have been talking with the Russos for close to two years about buying Europa Bistro to open their casual eatery/speakeasy concept. John and Alfredo first bonded over wood-fired pizza from Russo’s mobile pizza truck at the Gig Harbor Farmers Market. “It just worked out that his lease was ending,” said Ross of the timing.
“There’s so much potential in that space and that’s what we’re excited about,” said Ross. “The bar, it’s so beautiful. They had that custom made themselves.”
In fact, they’ll build the speakeasy side of the restaurant around that bar.
MILLHOUSE COCKTAIL LOUNGE
“We’re actually looking to close up the space a little bit to what it was like the first five years of Europa before they expanded it and took over both spaces,” said Ross. His uncle lives a few blocks from Europa Bistro and Ross spent a considerable amount of time talking to his uncle and other Proctor neighbors about the feel of Europa and how that restaurant evolved.
“They liked the atmosphere when it was that smaller space, so we want to bring that back, especially on the bar side,” said Ross.
That bar space at Millhouse will be 21-and-older only and they plan to open the bar at 3 p.m. “It’ll be enclosed,” said Ross, of the space that will have an exterior entrance. Expect high-end cocktails, which I’ll be writing more about in the near future.
FAMILY FRIENDLY RESTAURANT
The other side of the restaurant will get a minor redesign with a half wall built to funnel traffic to the ordering counter. The family-friendly side will be open for lunch and dinner.
The restaurant side will be fast-casual where diners order at the counter and find their own seat. It will be as family-friendly as restaurants come, said Ross, who has two children and has a third on the way.
“We’ll have a dedicated kids menu,” he said. And, of course, pizza is about as kid-friendly as food gets.
He’ll swap out the light fixtures and bring in some new elements, but the tile floor and basic footprint will remain unchanged. The biggest change will be the addition of the wall that will divide the speakeasy lounge from the fast-casual restaurant side.
DIFFERENT BAKING STYLE FOR THE PIZZA
At Millville in Gig Harbor, Ross bakes his pies in a fancy pizza oven from high-end oven manufacturer Mugnaini. He fuels that oven – its only source of heat is from wood – with applewood.
At Millhouse, Ross plans to change his pizza formula a bit. He’ll still make his delicious pizza dough from double zero flour and the sauce will be made from San Marzano tomatoes.
But the cooking method will be completely different.
He’ll continue to use the gas-piped doubled-stacked deck oven that serviced Europa’s kitchen, which will allow him to bake pizzas at a much higher capacity. That means he’ll be able to feed diners quickly on the fast-casual side of the restaurant. He’ll also be able to expand and offer third-party delivery, which is something he’s not been able to offer at his Millville restaurant in Gig Harbor because the restaurant just doesn’t have the space or capacity with its pizza oven.
As for the pizza style at Millhouse, expect the same style and type of toppings as one will find at Millville. Diners can choose from meats such as soppressata, capicola, mortadella, prosciutto, chorizo sausage, pepperoni, Italian sausage and more. Cheeses go deep on choices that include gruyere, manchego, burrata and goat cheese. Pizza combinations range from simple to fanciful. My favorites are the ones topped with fresh arugula.
Speaking of produce, Millville has a focus on using locally-sourced food products, such as mushrooms foraged by Adam’s Mushrooms. Expect that same focus on locally-sourced ingredients. Additionally, all sauces, dressings, spreads, pasta, the dough – everything will be made in-house at Millhouse in Proctor.
FRESH-BAKED BREAD FOR SALE
“We’ll be doing our breads out of that oven. We’ll be doing sourdough and we’ll throw a whole wheat loaf on the menu,” said Ross. He’ll also have focaccia bread. Not only will those breads be used on the restaurant’s menu of eight sandwiches, but customers also can buy fresh-baked bread at Millhouse.
He described a sandwich menu that sounds spectacular: A focaccia bacon-turkey club, a muffaletta built with capicola, mortadella and olive tapenade, a caprese made with housemade pesto aioli, an Italian with manchego cheese. He also listed classic deli sandwiches, including an egg salad (such a hard sandwich to find on menus anymore) made with housemade aioli and lemon zest. He also has plans for a tuna, roast beef, ham and turkey sandwich. Sandwiches will be served with a choice of the restaurant’s pesto pasta salad, chips or a pickle spear.
He’ll import Millville’s popular salads – the kale-romaine Caesar with housemade croutons and Millville’s version of a chop salad, a romaine-arugula salad with crispy prosciutto, thin-cut shallots, sliced apples, walnuts and a homemade blue cheese vinaigrette.
While the menu will stay simple and smaller when they open, they do have grander plans for handmade pastas, said Ross. It might not be on the menu at opening, but they will experiment with specials and eventually increase the menu to include pastas they will hand extrude in the kitchen.
“We’ll have that homemade pasta with red sauce, and spaghetti with Italian sausage,” he said. There will also be a vegan pasta option, he said, made with egg-free pasta. Expect to see pesto as a sauce option, he added.
MORE ABOUT MILLHOUSE PROCTOR
The size of the space will give Ross more flexibility in the menu. Mostly because Europa’s kitchen is so much bigger than Millville’s. In fact, Europa Bistro is about double the size of everything at Millville, which is 1,200 square feet and seats 30. At Millhouse, Ross expects to seat about 45 on the fast-casual side of the restaurant and about 25-30 on the speakeasy lounge side.
The opening timeline is flexible because of the work that needs to be done to build the walls and restructure the interior. Expect a spring opening, said Ross.
He said opening in Proctor was a dream. They looked at restaurant spaces from South Hill to Olalla, but Proctor came with the same neighborhood vibe as the Millville neighborhood in Gig Harbor where Ross operates his Millville Pizza.
The expansion comes just after Millville celebrates five years in business in Gig Harbor. “We’ve looked at other spaces and have been wanting to expand,” said Ross. “At Millville, our focus is the wood fired pizza menu, but we have a love for breads, artisan soups and salads and homemade pastas. But Millville, the way it is set up, does not give us the capacity to expand out. We’ve always wanted to do that, so we’ve looked for spaces that would allow us to do that. This new space is a good landing spot for what we do at Millville, plus an expanded menu. We’re really excited to open in Proctor.”
Where: 2515 N. Proctor St., Tacoma
Opening: Spring 2022, if all goes as planned
MILLVILLE PIZZA CO. GIG HARBOR
Where: 3409 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor; 253-514-8626
SPEAKING OF PIZZA – DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE CHICAGO PIZZA PLACE OPENING?
Did you catch my story last week about Chi Town Pizza? The Chicago-style deep dish pizza restaurant is opening in Spanaway. Read more here.