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Crust & Craft


This should really be entitled, “Crust & Craft Revisited,” as I have been sadly remiss in keeping track of this cozy and nicely appointed restaurant (my first article was posted in December 2015!). But all’s well that ends well, and I have had several recent visits, including St. Patrick’s Day 2018. There are new photos and new descriptions. But first, a bit of history:

While that little storefront on the far right end of Midway Galleria (next to Panera Bread) was seeing its share of pizza joints, a young Brenton Wallace was toiling away at Zavino wine bar and pizzeria in Philadelphia. Sometime around mid-2012, he set up shop in Nage’s market concept, Root Gourmet (now Nage Catering) in Shore Plaza. After a short stint next door at mothership Nage (now Fork & Flask), Wallace proceeded to help Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats revamp and improve their menu on Rehoboth Avenue.

Brenton took the plunge to open his own place: A pizza and craft beer joint in that little spot in Midway Galleria. Monday-morning quarterbacks voiced concern about the location: “But it’s pizza,” they whined. Didn’t matter. Wallace was going for it. Several months of hard work came to fruition toward the end of summer 2015 when patrons realized that this was unlike other pizza places that had occupied that space. Wallace’s 13-inch rounds are reminiscent of pizza napolitana, a wheat-flour dough topped with red sauce and mozzarella cheese. But Crust & Craft’s pizza picks up where some others leave off: Starting with the Rosa (crushed San Marzanos, sliced garlic and fresh oregano), customers can select from a long list of unusual toppings, including long hots (an Italian pepper with a moderate kick), squash, jalapenos, arugula, bacon, a wonderfully runny egg, fontina cheese, roasted mushrooms, pistachio pesto … 21 in all. Each pizza sports a lightly charred and puffy crust, the appropriate finish of the imported wood-burning brick oven assembled by Marra Forni, a family-owned company in Greenbelt, Maryland.

It’s important to realize that a wood-fired pizza will have little area of charred goodness. It’s the nature of the beast: The intense heat bubbles the crust up, and the tops of those little bubbles, being closer to the hottest part of the oven, will get a slight, but crispy char. Yes, it is easy to actually burn a pizza in a wood-fired oven – the heat is intense, is only radiated from one side, and the pizzas must be tended to during the entire process. But unless the entire crust is actually burnt to a bitter crackle, little areas of char are part of the experience. As of my last visit, the pizza guys had finally gotten the hang that oven, and they certainly have it down.

And yes, the pizzas are tasty. Award-winning chef/owner Hari Cameron of a(MUSE.) loves the simple and unadorned Rosa. Cape Gazette Editor-in-Chief Trish Vernon and DSM Commercial Realtor Brittany Danahy both swear by the Ovo (bacon, brussel sprouts and that custardy egg). Yours truly had more than one slice of the Finocchiona (spicy sausage, fennel, long hots and crushed tomatoes). Finocchiona is a Tuscan salami laced with fennel. And I will go back for more. Pizza names and style vary with (1) the season, and (2) Brenton’s whims. But they are always good. For example, on our last visit (St. Patrick’s Day 2018) there was a Reuben Pizza – with corned beef, ‘kraut and Russian dressing. After an initial period of trepidation, we discovered it was quite tasty. The Saint would have been proud.

The sleepers at Crust & Craft are the appetizers/small plates. Divided into three categories, the Hearth list contained such delights as braised calamari and roasted squash with pumpkin seeds. The Ocean section offers a delicious combination of fennel sausage and mussels; littlenecks with beans and ham broth, and one of the most delicious treatments of wood-roasted octopus I have had locally. Beneath the Earth heading there are beets with ricotta and greens; brussel sprouts with apples, blue cheese and balsamic, along with several other tasty combinations. RehobothFoodie pick hits: The octopus (slightly charred and delightfully savory – as of early 2018 being served with a gaggle of brightly acidic Greek olives), the fennel sausage and mussels, and all of the salads. On our recent visit, we had the ricotta cheese spread on wood-fired toast. The combination of the olive oil and cracked black pepper on the cheese was sublime. (That one’s a don’t-miss.)

Wallace is keeping that oven running at full tilt, cranking out wood-roasted vegetables, meats and fish along with homemade breads. The menu also includes house-made pastas such as rigatoni, buccatini, and pasta e zuccha redolent of pumpkin. Listen to the specials list: some creative bites might be in there. Again – menu items around here change like the tides, so some of this stuff might be on the menu, and some might not be. But I suspect you won’t be disappointed with anything.

The bright and friendly bar greets you as soon as you enter, and lucky barflies get to watch the kitchen crew coax pies and cast-iron dishes in and out of that glowing domed oven. In addition to the kitchen floor show, the bar also offers 6 drafts, hand-pumped beer casks and around 20 bottles and cans. Bar manager Katie Sherman brings a shing light all her own to the tiny but busy bar.

So give Crust & Craft a try. Go for the pizza and beer, but stay for the sides, appetizers and small plates. At the moment they are open 3-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 11 – 10 Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They are currently closed on Mondays. Give them a call at (302) 313-5029.

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The Rehoboth Foodie

About the Author

"My goal is to promote Rehoboth Beach dining while remaining honest and impartial. I don’t gush unless a place deserves it, and I don’t pull punches, either. With so many good places to eat around here, it just doesn’t make sense to waste the calories — or the money — on anything less." View all articles written by The Rehoboth Foodie

Add Your Comment
  1. Barbara Dorsey says:

    No changes in the Happy Hour this past Friday, excellent as usual and took home a You Say You are From New York pizza which was savory and hit that spot I didn’t know I has! Hoping SoDel maxes the use of that fantastic oven. Upstate, Pizza by Elizabeth’s is my hands down favorite for gourmet pizza, haven’t found that Mushroom Duxelles sauce anywhere here at the beach. SoDel could thrill us by using this oven for breads served at the other restaurants, or like Elizabeth’s, offer bread sticks and dipping sauces. (Same as pizza base). Whole wheat crust is a rarity here, still praying for that so my diabetic friends can enjoy a little more. No reason for that oven to be unused even during slow times! It’s kept hot and is fast. I bet one baker could do nothing but make delicious rolls and sticks from there and give us what we’ve been missing all these years.

  2. Martha says:

    This is pizza with integrity. Yes, a little charred and tasting of yeast as a good pizza should. Forsake that boardwalk stuff…you know who I’m talking about…and try a pizza that tastes like Italy, or pretty close.

  3. Tom Schwab says:

    This restaurant is one of the hidden gems in rehoboth beach. The octopus
    appetizer is fabulous! Every dish we have had is well crafted.(Hence the name?)
    My family has dined here on two occasions. Service was excellent! Everyybody enjoyed the beer selections. I can highly recommend this restaurant.

  4. demattman says:

    On a cold and snowy night, we were warmly greeted by bartender Palma who waited on us thorough out our happy hour and was very attentive to our requests. We enjoyed a Queen pizza which was delicious and came out piping hot. The mussels with fennel sausage was sopped up with homemade Italian bread that accompanied the app, it was amazing! The Dogfish Pilsner Ale made me happy. We took home the Ovo pizza which was delicious It was the perfect balance of bacon, Brussel sprouts, fontina, egg and thyme. Thanks Brenton…

  5. Barbara says:

    Been once, pizza comes out FAST. I had the mussells and a bite of hubbys pizza. I think the pizza was better at Half Full but the seating and parking are more convenient here. I recognized a lot of the servers and they all seemed up beat and happy. Wine list not bad. Will return.

  6. fightingbluehen says:

    Pizza was pretty good, liked the char. Aside from the pizza, they are working in sort of narrow rustic style range with a Kevin Reading flair. Somewhat heavy with wintery type dishes that are OK if you are specifically in the mood for that, but definitely won’t fly in the summer time.

    We started with some really good ricotta cheese with some toasted bread, and the calamari. I must say that I wasn’t a fan of the potatoes and red sauce with the calamari…. again I can’t imagine people enjoying that in the summer.

    I ordered the octopus, which by the way was grilled to perfection and very tender. Too bad that it was served as a heavy dish with ,again the potatoes….works a bit in winter, don’t think it will be popular in summer months.

    Word of advice concerning the olives. Either serve pitted olives in the dish or un-pitted olives, but not both.

  7. BobNMike says:

    We loved the Small plates. The octopus was very flavorful. Littlenecks and beans were delicious too. We will definitely be back to try more of the creative small plates. Appreciate the sneak peak on this one or we likely would have missed it as we don’t generally eat pizza. Thanks!

  8. Barb Passikoff says:

    I like having a salad before dinner. Three salads on menu, not one of them a simple side salad or wedge. Each of the three were so different that I left never ordering anything else. How about something like a simple green salad with entree or pizza. Disappointed!

  9. Joe Iaquinto says:

    Was looking forward to trying pizza at Crust and Craft. My wife and I were there Sunday afternoon. We each tried a local draft beer which was good and we both had a 12″ pizza. The draft beer was over priced for a local brew. The pizza was very tasty but the toppings were very light. You don’t need to smoother the crust but I think you should be able to taste your topping in every bite. Will I go back? Maybe! Just because of the taste of my pizza. Won’t be going there for a draft that’s for sure.

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