Despite its apparent simplicity, the craft of delicious, unique, artisanal pizza is an admirable achievement. It’s convenient to grab a quick slice, but I’ll never be able to get past the industrial operation that is standard at most pizza joints. I’m always searching for a pie with personality: a crust neither too thick nor too thin, a touch of charring, a bit of asymmetry, and experimental ingredient combinations are just a few of the qualities that seduce me. Luckily, I had to look no further than Krust Pizza Bar on Main Street to find pizza that would make me swoon.
Opened in January 2013 by Rich Garcia and Kevin Wirtes, Krust is not your typical “grab-and-go” spot. Complete with a full bar and wood-fired oven, it distinguishes itself by encouraging customers to drink and be merry from the moment they enter the restaurant. The joint teams up with NoRa Cupcakes for dessert, and offers different cupcake varieties each day. Even though good quality food can oftentimes put a sizable dent in a wallet, prices at Krust are reasonable for a night out, comparable to other Main Street options.
When I arrived at 7 p.m. on the evening after Halloween, a Friday, the party was in full swing. The dimly lit space was decked out with seasonal decorations, and I even observed some patrons lounging by the bar in costume. As expected, the restaurant was filled to capacity, and I can’t say I was surprised when we were told there would be an hour-long wait. But I’ve realized there’s hardly ever a lengthy wait without a tasty reward at the end.
Once my family and I were seated, a difficult decision-making process began. We started off with some appetizers: meatball sliders smeared with pesto mayonnaise and rich burrata garnished with herbs and a splash of olive oil. The bite-sized (though not too small) portions guaranteed that I had plenty of room left for the main attraction.
With ten different pre-made pizza options from which to choose (plus the “blank canvas” option, where diners can create a pie that caters to their personal tastes), we had difficulty coming to a consensus. Perhaps we would like to sample the pie topped with roasted garlic, smoked mozzarella, parmesan, basil, extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt. Or maybe we could scrap the mozzarella altogether by ordering the pie coated with San Marzano tomato, Parmesan, pepperoni, garlic, and oregano. In the end, we settled on the classic Red pie and the slightly more adventurous Veg pie, and neither disappointed.
Served on a tiered rack, the pies arrived at our table looking like two works of abstract art. Painted with a base coat of smooth tomato sauce, each canvas was splotched with milky mozzarella and lightly showered with a fine layer of olive oil. Our Veg pie featured creamy ricotta, savory mushrooms, sweet peppers, and roasted onions. A browned crust dotted with doughy bubbles of air framed each masterpiece.
After making my family wait while I snapped a few photos, we carefully divided the pies amongst ourselves and transferred each slice cautiously to our plates. Though my stomach was just as eager as my eyes, I slowed down to appreciate the flavors. I started with the basic Red, and I delighted in its divine effortlessness. Working my way from tip to crust, I finished off my slice with the taste of the slightly sweet sauce still dancing across my taste buds.
I moved on to the Veg slice, where sweet and savory were married in harmony. Slick with oil, the vegetables skated through my mouth until the crispy crust signaled the finale. I knew I had found satisfaction in simplicity.
Though it’s a bit of a hike from campus, the experience at Krust Pizza Bar is well worth the voyage. But with the long winter months ahead, I’m cringing at the prospect of returning in the bitter cold.
To those with access to a car, I’ll share a pie if you share a ride.
A note from an Argus Food staff member of drinking age: Krust’s whiskey selection is impressive, to say the least. The cocktails (mostly bourbon-based) are as beautiful as they are delicious, and the bar offers over over 30 kinds of whiskey of all varieties (and counting! I tasted two new additions just last week). There is also a rotating tap of 12 draught beers, which offers a good selection. Beers are a little bit pricier than at Eli Cannon’s across the street, but they’re worth it if you want a good beer with your pizza.