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DINING: New Carmel eatery joins upper crust of local pizzerias

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Dining - A&E

It’s refreshing to find a restaurant that seems to know exactly what it is and wants to be. An eatery where the décor and service seem at one with the food it creates. A place whose name gives you a clear idea where its priorities are.

That’s what I found at Crust Pizzeria Napoletana (12505 Old Meridian St., Carmel, 810-1777), which recently joined Brockway Pub and a Stacked Pickle as anchoring dining spots at the Providence at Old Meridian development.
 

ae-main-crust02-15col.jpg At Crust, the pies, above, bake in a 700-degree stone hearth oven. Meatballs, below, come as a topper, appetizer or sandwich. (IBJ Photos/ Aaron P. Bernstein)

The locally owned Crust finds a sweet spot between neighborhood pizzeria and high-end pizza joints. Sure, the delivery chains are cheaper and you’ll get bigger slices out of the pies elsewhere, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better pie in a classier place where the owner is likely to be the guy sliding the pizza into the oven.
 

ae-smaller-crust01-15col.jpg

That oven, by the way, is a stone hearth one, kept at a blistering 700 degrees. That could explain why our pizza entrees arrived hot on the heels of the delivery of our appetizers—a service annoyance that, I hope, will be cleared up in time. Timing, in dining, might not be everything but it’s certainly something.

 

We started with the Soup of the Day ($5), a bowl of butternut squash the consistency of melted butter. Homemade Calamari ($9) showed clear signs of care as well, but the winner in the dish wasn’t the squid but the sauce. I selfishly clung to the delicious sample of the house-made marinara as our pizzas arrived, the better to dip the crust into.

While there’s an option to Make Your Own Pizza ($10 plus $3 per extra topping), we tried the Meatball ($15), featuring fresh mozzarella and Italian porcini mushrooms, and the Quattro Formaggio ($14). The former featured ample-but-not-overwhelming portions of its added ingredients while the latter carefully balanced mozzarella, parmesan, gorgonzola and ricotta. I’ve had far too many versions elsewhere where the ricotta nudges the others out for dominance. Here, though, was cheese harmony.

Both pies benefited from the restaurant’s made-daily crust, not as irregular as that of Napolese but with more character than we’re accustomed to here. Dipped in the salvaged sauce, it was heaven.

Crust also knows its way around a Calzone ($11), although it would benefit from more choices or an explicit-on-the-menu, make-your-own option.

Crust also serves Paninis and other sandwiches (sided with seasoned fries) and a quartet of salads. Lunch specials are offered daily with most consisting of sandwiches, a side and drink, circa $9.

While the price point may keep this from being your go-to-in-a-pinch pie shop, with a commitment to fresh ingredients (locally sourced when possible, including chicken from Indiana’s Miller Poultry) combined with friendly service and attractive atmosphere, Crust already belongs with the upper crust of local pizzerias.•

—Lou Harry

__________

Third in a month-long series of reviews of restaurants in recently rehabbed spaces.

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  • Intellectual property?
    A Woodstone oven is intellectual property of Napolese/Patachou? That's gonna be news to a lot of places. I guess I'd say sue if you don't like it, but I hear they already did...Make sure you don't file that suit Pro Se...you need a lawyer to explain some stuff first. There may indeed be something suitable, but a lot of what is mentioned here by PJC sure isn't...
  • Fare was middling
    Fair to middling is my take on Crust.....including the crust, which was somewhat rubbery. I thought that my pizza was over priced at $15.
  • room for competition
    I thought Pizzology was the first of this style in the area? Hey, if someone can make an excellent pizza with local, fresh ingredients plus offer FRIENDLY service, they'll win my business. I love the product at Pizzology, but grew tired of waitstaff who behave as if I should be grateful that I'm eating their food. That's why I only ever do carry out from them now. I hope that Crust can offer a similar pizza with a more inviting dining experience.
  • Opinions welcome
    Other opinions are welcome, but if you have a business partnership with Patachou/Napolese you really should disclose that. Thanks, Lou
  • hijacking Napolese
    "crust" having more character than Napolese? hello knock off! add to the list of stolen intellectual property: woodstone oven, dry stacked stone, exact wine rack, chalk paint, exposed ceiling, bar stools, water containers, menu layout/font....and the best, unlicensed PANDORA playing as background music....simply disgusting
    • Imitation=Flattery?
      Crust should be called "An Homage to Napolese". Utter lack of originality.

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