Friday, June 20, 2014

The Crust, Naples, Florida

Pizza with tomato sauce, provolone cheese and crumbled italian sausage

I'm a sucker for pizza.  What's not to love about bread and cheese, right?   If you've read my earlier posts, you all know that I'm particularly wedded to a thin crust.  I'm sure my fellow Chicagoans are in disbelief.  After all, my beloved birthplace is the home of the deep dish.  But I just never got used to the gummy crust at the bottom of a Chi-town pie.  Nope.  For me it's crispy cracker crust all the way. That is exactly what The Crust promises.  So, ever on a search for the perfect pizza, the fam and I made our way to the Pavillion shopping center in North Naples during the pizzeria's opening week.  I know I was taking a risk by going on the restaurant's fourth night of operation.  I mean, I hadn't given them a chance yet to work the kinks out.  But curiosity got the best of me ... and I'm glad that it did.

The Crust definitely delivers exactly what it promises.  The Crust serves thin-crusted, midwest style pizza, cut into "party size" squares.  While other pizzerias tout their sauces, the Crust touts ... well, their crust.  The name says it all.  "Crispy on the bottom, fluffy in the middle ..."  The Crust's pizza crust is just as described on their webpage.  And just to prove it, I had to take a pic.

Now that is crisp!  And I'm not the only one that thinks so.  My husband, Italian by heritage and upbringing, is pretty discerning when it comes to pizza crust.  His family is from "just the other side" of the GW Bridge and he's grown up with more than his fair share of New York style pizza.  He doesn't let a  poorly cooked crust past his lips without vocal criticism.  I was nervous bringing him to the Crust without first sampling it myself.  And, to my great relief, it only took one bite for him to succumb to the crust of the Crust.  (Yes, I meant to say that!)

What I loved:  You mean besides that thin and crispy crust?  The options.  While the Crust offers a few gourmet pizza combinations, I was drawn to the Crust for its "make your own pizza" option.  I'm not just talking about the ability to select from a variety of toppings.  I'm talking about the ability to also choose the crust (traditional or gluten free), the sauce and the cheese.  Now that my son is on a mandatory low sodium, low protein diet, the ability to customize our pizza as much as possible is key.  I count this as a big plus for all of you who are on doctor prescribed diets.  The Crust gives you the option of selecting between traditional tomato sauce, pesto or olive oil.  And the latter is ideal for those who are told to keep sodium to a minimum.  So, for my son, we opted for an olive oil coated crust.  I myself stuck with good ol' tomato.  Both were good.

As for the cheese, here the Crust also deviates from the norm.  The Crust's menu pizzas are all topped with provolone cheese instead of the usual mozzarella.  And although you can select a different cheese,  mozzarella is not an option.  I'm not sure why, but I'm not sure I care.  The provolone tasted just as good to me.  I didn't even miss the mozz.  Call it blasphemous if you want, but I call it tasty.

Even better was the service.  For an opening week, I found the staff to be much more than adequate.  Our server, Calesta, was prompt and courteous, frequently checking on us but not so much as to be hovering.   The manager on duty also took a moment to check on us and to converse with neighboring diners.  We sat next to the bar/kitchen but didn't find the activity around us to be intrusive.  And we enjoyed the decor that pairs black and white photos of Old Hollywood with rustic wood tables and industrial elements.  I personally loved the hooks underneath the bar.  Obviously whoever thought up that one thinks just like a woman.  

What I Didn't Love:  Umm ... I'm still thinking on this one.  I've read a few other reviews on Yelp that weren't as sold on the Crust.  Perhaps I just have different taste.  Perhaps I was just as pleased as punch about the customization options.  Perhaps I fared much better going on day four post-opening than those who went to the soft opening.  I certainly mind less than others that this eatery seems to cater to a more "upscale" Mercato kind of crowd.

How much we spent:  ($$)  For our party of four we ordered two custom pizzas, one with provolone and olive oil and one with provolone, tomato sauce and crumbled italian sausage.  We also ordered four sodas.  Our total bill was $48, which included a generous 20% tip.

My rating:  (4 spoons)  I haven't had a pizza I liked this much since my visit to The Blue Moose in Colorado.  The fact that my better half likes it too must mean that there is promise in this pizza.

Before you go, don't forget to check out Anna's Mini Review.  She's got a good pic of our olive oil pizza.  :-)

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