My flight out of Baltimore was delayed by nearly two hours, so I did not have time to visit three pizzerias in Charleston. I very hurriedly fit in two pizzerias before jamming up north to Murrells Inlet. Did not have my regular camera on me, so I had to use my cell phone.
EVO is a nice space. On a nice main street which holds a farmer's market with bungalow houses and oaks draped with Spanish Moss backing up onto it, the 90°F heat and sticky humidity helped me work up a thirst on the short one block walk from where I parked the rental car. I noticed a contingent of hipsters eating outside of the space and my hopes for good food increased upon this sight.
I grabbed a seat at the bar. A very respectable tap selection of beers with more in bottles....a bumper sticker "No Crap, Just Craft" was on the bar. Not a major mass marketed beer in sight. Perfect. The bartender was very friendly and the service was excellent.Expectations:
Neutral to hoping for something really good. The website mentions it is a "Fresh, honest, wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, expertly prepared with seasonal, local ingredients
". So I was expecting some approximation of Napoletana, being that the joint itself is billing itself as such.
One of the sights that makes my heart sink in a pizzeria is the sight of the pie man tossing the dough in the air. This was the first thing I saw once I got my Stoudt's Pilsner and starting paying attention to the pizza preperation.
I ordered a margherita and the somewhat highly touted pistachio pesto pizza and started stopwatch-ing the pies being made. The joint was filled with people, but the din was not too loud and not too quiet. All of the pies I timed, including mine, fell in the 2:35 to 3:15 range (mine were at 2:48 and 2:51).
The foundation, the crust, was too chewy for me and lacked the flavors of a good, developed fermentation. It was not flavorless, but the texture was simply too tough. The flour here is either a mix of a finer flour like 00 and higher gluten flour or is comprised solely of something along the lines of a bread flour perhaps. Whatever it was, the chew was far too much for Neapolitan pizza. Chew, chew, chew….and chew. A jaw workout lacking a degree of delicacy required of the style. It would in fact be a tad too chewy for a good NY-Style slice. The upskirt revealed the larger char splotches I sometimes used to get when too much air gets trapped under a slightly underfermented crust upon launching into the oven. In short, the crust needed some improvement.
However, what was on top of the crust was quite good. The stars of the margherita were the sauce and basil. The sauce was jump off of the pizza vibrant and very flavorful. The basil was very fresh and potent as well, which helped balance the flavorful sauce….the sauce on this visit was simply excellent. One of the better sauces on a margherita I have ever had -- something to be said about using fresh, local ingredients. The cheese was applied in pieces which were too large, but the extra coverage actually worked due to the vibrancy of the sauce and basil. The texture of the cheese was good…not too soft, not too stretchy. So while the margherita was not outstanding due to a somewhat lackluster crust and would not pass the critical muster of hardcore pizza enthusiasts, it was certainly enjoyable eating.
The pistachio pizza was neither bad nor outstanding. Just kind of there. The pistachio pesto was far too mild. I like subtle flavors, but the pistachio note was lost under a blanket of too much cheese. Based on my one visit, I would not order this pizza again. But I have only been once.
Again, the space itself and the staff have a really good vibe. I liked the part of town it was in and the beer selection was excellent….you could do far worse than to have a spot like this as a go to local watering hole and pizzeria.
So with a belly half full I jumped back in the car and hauled arse over towards Vespa Pizza. Vespa review here: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,20188.0.html