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Pizzology: To Mass Ave and beyond 

click to enlarge Pizzology's fried green tomato salad, made with fresh mozzarella, green tomato, herbs and stone ground mustard vinaigrette. - MARK A. LEE
  • Pizzology's fried green tomato salad, made with fresh mozzarella, green tomato, herbs and stone ground mustard vinaigrette.
  • Mark A. Lee

Even if Pizzology and Libertine Liquor Bar owner Neal Brown focuses less on cooking these days and more time on growing his business, there's still plenty of talent in his restaurant kitchens.

In fact, the culinary team Brown has assembled, led by operations director Erin Till, seems primed to handle whatever expansion plans the high-profile chef has in mind, even if that means another Pizzology location coming online in relatively short order. At Brown's latest venture, the six-week-old Mass Ave. Pizzology, chefs George Turkette and Ed Sawyer, for example, managed a recent busy weekend evening with apparent ease.

I hadn't been in since opening day, when I tried the excellent roasted asparagus and prosciutto pizza. I considered ordering it again (it was that good) or opting for the fennel sausage pizza that I typically get at the Carmel Pizzology, but in the interest of research, of course, I figured I'd better opt for something new.

click to enlarge MARK A. LEE
  • Mark A. Lee

I'd heard a lot about one particular appetizer, the Indiana sweet corn, pancetta and jalapeno risotto, so that was a must-try item. A fried green tomato salad also sounded interesting. And at the urging of Turkette, we also sampled one of the evening's specials, a salad featuring housemade burrata filled with ricotta and pesto.

Now, I've been very happy with the specials at the Carmel Pizzology. In fact, I'd go back again for the fresh ravioli filled with housemade mortadella and ricotta that enticed me back in February (thanks, Facebook). And I was pleased that the burrata salad special didn't disappoint. Neither did the creamy risotto, $8, which definitely lives up to its stellar reputation. Although it didn't gain much heat from the jalapeno, its mildness didn't keep us from fighting over who got the last bite.

We also enjoyed the fried green tomato salad, $10, which was served caprese-like, with slices of housemade mozzarella. I wasn't sure about the somewhat heavy breading — I tend to like a lighter, crispier coating on my fried green tomatoes — but decided that the heavier exterior did stand up well to the mozzarella and the salad's stone-ground mustard vinaigrette. And a small order of penne with artichokes roasted tomatoes and olives, $8, was rustic and flavorful — a hearty vegetarian option and certainly good.

click to enlarge Pizzology's high-temperature, wood-burning oven.
  • Pizzology's high-temperature, wood-burning oven.

Pizzology's dinner pizzas come in just one size, and if you order appetizers, one pie can be enough for a couple to share, although on previous visits to the Carmel location when we couldn't reach an agreement — or when we've been angling for leftovers — we've certainly ordered two. In fact, three diners next to us the other night each ordered a pizza — and one of them walked out carrying a stack three to-go boxes — so don't hesitate about ordering more than one.

But on this visit, we settled on one of the red sauce varieties. The carni pizza, $13.50, features housemade porchetta, mortadella and pepperoni and is topped with locally raised arugula. And even though the kitchen was out of porchetta – our server asked if we minded a substitution of capicola and the switch was fine with us — the pie was still a delicious meat-centric choice.

click to enlarge Pizzology's Homemade Sausage Pizza Rosa, made from fennel sausage, onion and peppadew. - MARK A. LEE
  • Pizzology's Homemade Sausage Pizza Rosa, made from fennel sausage, onion and peppadew.
  • Mark A. Lee

Pizzology's high-temperature, wood-burning oven isn't as much of a conversation piece as it was when the Carmel location opened in 2009, and by now diners seem more at ease with the spotty charred crusts. Ours was a deep golden brown with just enough of that characteristic spotting, so we had no quibbles with the crust. And speaking of crusts, we also ordered the $1.25 "sidecar" trio of sauces for dipping those crusts, an option I'd certainly recommend (I especially liked mixing the garlic and red sauce). But if you don't want to wait for a crust to dip, breadsticks are also available and, since our server specifically asked if we'd like some, I assume they're less of a secret than they've been in the past.

Dessert options include gelato, zeppole and housemade tiramisu, and even though we were only going to have a few bites of what turned out to be a very tasty tiramisu, $6, it nevertheless quickly disappeared.

Jolene Ketzenberger covers local food at EatDrinkIndy.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JKetzenberger.

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