Crust Pizzeria ~ Carlsbad

Crust Pizzeria is a Chef driven, gourmet pizza restaurant located on the border of Carlsbad and Encinitas at 3263 Camino De Los Coches, Carlsbad. (sprouts shopping center.)

The restaurant is pretty large with a medium-sized bar area, an open kitchen area, and seating for about 75 inside and an additional 40 on the patio. Still it gets busy on nights and weekends.

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Crust Pizzeria

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Crust Pizzeria interior.

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Master Pizza Chef Charlie Meola working at his craft.

Chef Meola has been working at his craft for 18 years. This experience and his passion for only using the best ingredients shows in his food. I was luck enough to grab some of his time and you can read that interview Here.

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Cheese Pizza by the slice available at lunch.

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Pepperoni Pizza ~ Grande mozzarella, Boars Head pepperoni, and fresh-cut basil.

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Tasia ~ Belle chevre goat cheese, kalamata olives, grilled eggplant, zucchini, Grande Mozzarella, feta cheese, oregano, lemon zest, and chili flake.

The pizza I had on a previous visit was the Sophia ~ Spicy sausage, crispy chard, olive oil, fontina cheese, ricotta, and rosemary.

I do not have a pic because my phone ate it:(  but it was delicious. Perfect crust, loved the quality of the cheese and the balance of flavor.

I would put crust in the top 4 pizza places in San Diego at the moment. First off don’t give me the Filippi’s they are mediocre. Pizza Port is OK if your close and want to grab lunch. Urbn does not know how to cook or time their crust, both times it was charred and inedable around the outside ( and I was there when it was slow so it’s not like they got distracted.)

No, I would say Biga, Crust, and The Privateer followed fourth by Pizza Maniac (for an old school grab a slice after work or school place.)

I know I talked mainly about pizza but Crust also does pastas, salads, and sandwiches.

I plan on going back for non work eating soon to explore the menu a little more along with going back to Biga for lunch because it was too dark for pics at dinner.

Crust Pizzeria

3263 Camino De Los Coches, Carlsbad

#food #foodporn #Pizza

Chef Interview With Chef Charlie Meola Of Crust Pizzeria ~ Carlsbad

I had a chance to sit down and talk with Chef Charlie Meola of Crust Pizzeria in Carlsbad recently. You can also see my article on Crust HERE.

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Chef Meola working at his craft.

 I know you started in NY correct?

Yes.

Can you tell me what your seminal moment was or what made you decide you wanted to pursue being a Chef?

Basically I was 13, started off as a dishwasher, went to counter, went to prep, went to sandwiches and basically learned the whole thing. But at that point and time I did not realize this is what I want to do forever. I enjoyed it but I was going to college.

At The University of Arizona right?

Ended going to University of Arizona. Went for three years, did not graduate. I started bartending, making really good money. I worked from 81 to 87 bartending. At that time I kind of realized there are not many old bartenders around, so maybe I need to look for something else.

I was just driving down the road and saw a pizza place for sale. I called the guy made a deal. Then I put two weeks of renovation in it and opened up. I owned it for 26 years, I just sold it about two years ago.

After That?

Went to Alabama, opened up two restaurants in Alabama. I did not like Alabama at all. Then I came here and opened this.

So the moment I realized I wanted to do this was in 88, when I opened up that pizzeria. The goal became just to make pizza better. With the basis of knowledge I already knew I knew I could do it.

Basically for 5 years from 88 to 93 I strived for that. I went on to resource different products from different parts of the country. Research and development trying this and trying that. Still to this day I do the same thing.

What I tell people who come in, like if a purveyor walks in I say “if you’re here to try to save me money and lessen my product, we are wasting each other’s time”. “If you are here to make my product better we can talk.” If you’re here to make my product better and save me money, that’s the cu de gras.”

I’m open to making it better and paying more as opposed to going the other way. I have fights with my accountant on how much I pay for cheese.

When I had my pizzeria in Tucson the Montage in Laguna Beach would fly me out to make pizza for the Chefs who were cooking for the James Beard Award Dinners. So, I cooked for Alex Stratta, Nancy Silverton, these top chefs in Southern California. That’s really it. The integrity of the food the craft are the most important things.

Editor’s Note: making pizza for Nancy Silverton (Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza..) is damn impressive. Just had to say that.

That’s about it, I have noticed now that it’s not all about food it’s about service too. When I started service was an afterthought. I was just in Mexico and noticed how people would be waiting an hour and a half for their food and not even care. Here people 15 min. and want it for free. You are a product of your environment and have to adapt.

Tell me about the products you use.

It’s real simple I keep rules to certain things. I just changed my tomato sauce for the first time in 28 years. These guys from Italy came in, brought some Italian tomatoes. I put what I was using, which was Escalon, next to this Sanyo(sp), it’s a Campagnia tomato, and I was like “this is better I’m gonna buy them.” That’s a big change to make.

You have your three bases your dough, your sauce, and your cheese. That’s your foundation. To change one of those is a big move. You can change your mushroom.

Or your pepperoni

Actually not, we buy Boars Head, which is $5.99 a pound where I could be getting it for $2.00. We get our sausage from a guy named Phil Scimeca who owns a little sausage shop. I met him in Alabama. I get goat cheese from a lady who makes goat cheese. I know everyone goes local and I would if I could find a product that equals. I’m all go local for vegetables, but if I’m going to buy a cheese…. I actually brought my Italian sausage to a guy in little Italy and said “can you duplicate this” and he said no.

Every day we make our own dough, all our salad dressings from scratch everything.

On a side note Chef also dabbles in photography. I was admiring the Surf photography on the wall, thinking it was Aaron Chang’s work, nope it turned out to be his. When you go there check it out, it’s really good.

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 So, there you have it Chef Charlie Meola of Crust Pizzeria. It always interest me to talk with Chefs. You go to someplace that is really good and then learn in talking with the Chef, oh that’s why. Plus as a food writer you have to listen and learn.

Crust Pizzeria

3263 Camino De Los Coches

New Chef / Menu Items At Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen ~ Oceanside

So, I was invited with about 120 others to try some of the new menu items that will be coming to The Flying Pig’s Oceanside location starting Tuesday.

The new menu will feature Craft, Italian inspired dishes created by new Chef  Justin Lappies. Justin has been working with Executive Chef Mario Moser for the last three years and was tapped to replace exiting Chef Samantha Parker, who is now at Campfire.

Do not worry, it is not a complete menu change and you will still see Flying Pig staples on the menu, it is just an infusion of freshness accompanying the new Chef.

All the dishes were served “family style’ and varied with each table.

What we had…..

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Panzanella Salad ~ Heirloom tomato, red romaine, onion,basil, cucumbers, capers, fried house focaccia, house vin.

Great salad with super fresh ingredients. I would say an interpretation of a panzanella.

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Arancini ~ Arborio rice, herbs, mushrooms, house red sauce and truffle aioli.

A great light version of what can sometimes be a heavy appetizer. I loved the filling and the mushroom flavor. I did not care for the truffle aioli but the red sauce made up for it in spades.

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Meat Flatbread ~ Pepperoni, ham, sausage, house red sauce, caramelized onion, opal basil

Classic, tasty flatbread.

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Tagliatelle ~ Daily Bolognese, with aged parm.

This was my dish of the night. Perfectly cooked, hand-made pasta with a rich sauce that contrasted perfectly with the freshness of the greens.

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Campanile ~ Daily pesto, house sausage, mushrooms, aged parm.

Another tasty pasta dish, loved the pesto and the sausage. Pasta may have been slightly to al dente for my taste.

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Olive Oil Pound Cake with Champagne Gastrique

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Spumoni ~ Pistacio Gelato, Brandied Cherries.

Excellent gelato, could have used more kick out of the brandied cherries.

Overall, great food that will be a nice addition to the Pig’s menu. Just as long as the pork chop does not go anywhere:)

Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen

626 South Tremont Street, Oceanside

PizzaManiac ~ Vista

So, my friend Dinah recommended this place and since she has pretty good taste, I figured I would check it out. I am glad I did.

PizzaManiac is in a strip mall in Vista sandwiched between Taco Bar and a laundromat.

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PizzaManiac ~ 1461 North Santa Fe, Vista (corner of Santa Fe and Bobier)

The interior is simple and clean and houses a big ass pizza oven.

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The previously mentioned big ass pizza oven.

They have about 9 specialty pies or you can build your own. They also have a 2 slice and drink special for $7.00 which is a great deal especially for the quality of the pizza.

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My slice ~ Pesto, garlic, mozzarella, and feta.

Great toppings, real mozzarella, not greasy plastic cheese, and a delightfully light and crispy crust. The crust sold it for me.

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Buffalo Wings

Due to them not having a deep fryer, these are baked. Great wings, crispy on the outside and moist and tender chicken. It looks like they would need sauce (which they provide.) but I used very little. Because they are coated before baking the buffalo sauce seeps in, departing a lot of flavor.

They will start serving beer in the future.

 

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Ben Phillips ~ Proud owner and Vista native.

Ben is a great guy and a local business owner who is doing things right. Fresh ingredients, treated with care. the kind of business and individual this site is focused on supporting.

Trivia ~ he originally wanted to call his place “Passion Of The Crust”, which I love, he may still do T-shirts. If he does I will buy one:)

Next time you want pizza or wings give PizzaManiac a try, you will be glad you did.

Pizzamaniac.

1461 North Santa Fe, Vista

 

Black Friday Shopping For Foodies

Why deal with the lines and being told we only had 4 of those $200 TVs in the ad. Grab a San Diego Dining Out Passport at 35% off if you use this website’s code. Regularly $99 – $35 with code NCF2016

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These are all foodie restaurants that do not give out deals regularly. You get 2 for 1 entrees at some of San Diego’s best restaurants. Just show them the passport, they stamp their page and you save. No unfolding a piece of newspaper coupon that you have stuck in your wallet or purse.

There are many North County locations including 608, The Whet Noodle, and The Land and Water Company. Hey, jump on the Coaster and head down to Little Italy in SD and go to Bracero Cocina (that right there pays for 80% of the book.)

Disclaimers: Do not buy this as the sole gift for the one you love, do not use on a first date  (unless you are sly enough just to slip into the credit card holder with your payment). these situations will end badly.

Seriously, though it will allow you to try some great places at a great discount. Dining Out San Diego Magazine is well respected in the industry. Plus I would not be posting it if I did not think it was of value or pizza hut was in there.

Check out the magazine as well some great articles, the latest features an interview with North County’s own Davin Waite of Wrench & Rodent.  Click here

Fast Casual Pasta Concept Coming Soon To Oceanside.

Pastas Lab (that is not a typo it is pastas) will be opening soon in the space once occupied by Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffees and smoothies next to the downtown Regal Cinema.

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Pastas Lab is part of a Chain with 2 San Diego locations and one opening up around the same time as the Oceanside location in San Elijo Hills. The Chain also includes Facchini’s and The Lasagna Lab.

Their USP (unique selling point) is they make all their pastas fresh from scratch.

The menu consists of choose your type of pasta and sauce as well as soups, salads, and sandwiches.

On an excitement scale of 1 to 10 this about a 3 food wise but a 10 downtown wise because it fills some of those vacancies in that plaza.

The Pastas Lab

401 Mission Ave, Oceanside

Pappalecco Caffe’~ Cardiff

I journeyed into the deep south (Cardiff) to check out casual Italian at Pappalecco. Pappalecco is a fast casual, high quality, Tuscan inspired, small, local chain with outposts in Little Italy, Kensington, Hillcrest, and now Cardiff.

They were getting a lot of positive reviews on Yelp, and you know what I say “Yelp is never wrong”. Oh, wait I meant, you know what I say “F%#k Yelp”, yep that was it. I do use Yelp as a tool to find places along with other sources like Eater and Chowhound. Wow, I just realized I despise all my sources. Ok, back on track.

The Cardiff location opened a few weeks ago, so I grabbed a bus and headed down.

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Yep, I’m in Cardiff.

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Pappalecco Caffe’ ( you can tell it is extra fancy because of the two ffs and the ‘ ). It is located in a small strip mall at 2101 San Elijo Avenue, Cardiff by the Sea.

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Simple clean interior (thought I was gonna say light and airy didn’t you). Sorry, I’m in a weird mood tonight.

You place your order and then put a number on your table. I will say the staff was very polite and friendly.

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Toscano Panini ~ Prosciutto, Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella

Great sandwich, fresh ingredients and a great balance between the flavors. I’m a stickler for good Mozzarella and they used good Mozzarella.

In addition to the Paninis, Pappalecco makes in-house Pastries and Gelato.  I imagine these are made centrally by them and distributed to the various locations. They hold their pastries and gelatos to only 5 main natural ingredients. Again, I do not know if that means only five , or five core ingredients. Regardless, its good hand crafted stuff:)

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See, told you five main natural ingredients. They have about 20 or so flavors, about four of which are gluten-free and vegan.

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I went with the Lemon. It was dense as you would expect from gelato, with a nice vibrant lemon flavor.

If you find yourself in the tail end of North County ( I do not want to hear it Del Mar and Solana Beach) I would check them out if you are looking for good quality quick Italian.

 

Pappalecco Caffe’

2101 San Elijo Avenue, Cardiff by the Sea