On March 1 of 2019, original owner and chef Brenton Wallace handed over the reins of Crust & Craft to the successful SoDel Concepts Restaurant Group. As the driving force behind 11 popular restaurants, CEO Scott Kammerer and crew can provide the spark of brand recognition and promotion that Crust & Craft needs. Because the restaurant has a loyal following and a reputation for good food, Kammerer plans to keep everything pretty much the same. Restaurant diva Katie Sherman will continue on as GM, and SoDel Concepts has re-installed Wes Books as the Asst. GM to help things get up to speed (Wes was the original GM at Crust & Craft). Talented chef Nina Maddox is running the kitchen.
The 13-inch pies 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 areas of charred goodness -especially on the dough bubbles that rise up in response to the high heat in the oven. 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 and rotated 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.
Crust & Craft1/23 mussels with spicy fennel sausage.2/23 the crust tastes as good as it looks3/23 Crust & Craft4/23 calamari, fennel, potatoes in an iron skillet5/23 Flounder crudo, grapefruit, basil, chili, pumpkin seeds6/23 The Ovo. A clever blend of tastes7/23 A whole Finocchiona. My favorite so far.8/23 Crust & Craft9/23 The octopus. Amazing.10/23 Crust & Craft11/23 Crust & Craft12/23 Crust & Craft13/23 Crust & Craft14/23 Crust & Craft15/23 Crust & Craft16/23 Crust & Craft17/23 Crust & Craft18/23 Crust & Craft19/23 Crust & Craft20/23 Crust & Craft21/23 Crust & Craft22/23 Crust & Craft23/23
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. DO NOTE that, as with many local restaurants, the menus change (1) with the seasons, (2) with the tides and the winds, and/or (3) the mood in the kitchen. So use the photos in the gallery as a guide ONLY!
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.)
Like Wallace, SoDel Concepts is keeping that oven running at full tilt, cranking out wood-roasted vegetables, meats and fish along with homemade breads. The menu will change with the seasons, so of course use this article only as a guide. 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 shining 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.