The corner of Allen St. & College St. is the new home of Crust pizza. A Rome inspired pizza rustica right in our favorite day to late night neighborhood! We had the pleasure of sampling some pizzas and meet with Peter McConeghy, the general manager, last week before they officially opened on Monday, October 28th. I got a little education on proper Roman pizza and some yummy tastes of what they are brewing up over there.
Peter and the two owners, Elizabeth Buscaglia and Sharon McConeghy maintain that “our inspiration comes from two places: the neighborhood Pizza al Taglio places you find in Rome, and the emerging trend in the pizza industry to bring ingredients forward into the customer’s view so they can tailor their own experience.” Elizabeth Buscaglia is also a local Buffalo architect who designed the bright, sleek interior space for Crust. It is well laid out for efficient service yet comfortable in house dining.
Peter says “Crust” pizza’s philosophy is simple: provide standout ingredients and then let the customers’ imagination take over to create their own signature pizza combinations.”
After checking out the upper & lower areas of the restaurant, we started to build our pizzas and try some of their offerings. Crust makes beautiful airy, crispy, homemade crusts with the traditional Italian “00” wheat flour. A true “Lazio” style crust is a bit thicker than a Neapolitan crust with air pockets and a crispy bottom. Unlike pizza from Naples, they are cooked in an electric oven not a wood fire oven. At Crust, they are premade fresh daily and then topped to order with the customer’s specifications. They have all the ingredients right in front of you to choose.
All pizzas are prepared on 10” square crusts and start at $12.00 for either a red or white pizza with two toppings (a protein and a vegetable choice). The “red” pizza is made with a balanced San Marzano marinara sauce and mozzarella. The white pizza starts with mozzarella, roasted garlic and olive oil. In order to keep the price down, they have opted to use domestic mozzarella instead of the traditional Buffalo mozzarella. (I say offer it as an upgrade.)
The pizzas are assembled and popped into special electric ovens that are designed for this preparation. The pizzas come out hot, crispy and melty in just a few minutes. You also have a choice of adding some toppings after baking like arugula, fresh cheese curds or fresh basil. We tried a traditional Margherita with Italian sausage and a custom one with red sauce, mozzarella, wild mushrooms and hot peppers then topped with fresh arugula. Both were really good and the crust held up to the description Peter gave us.
Crust also offers other options such as salads, arancini and stuffed cherry peppers. They have a liquor license in process and hope to be serving assorted beers and wine in a month or so. It will be so great to be able to go out for pizza, sit down and enjoy a glass of wine with it.
After our outing to visit Crust, I was intrigued to learn more about the Roman vs. Neapolitan approach to pizza. There is much controversy in Italy about pizza styles and process but from what I have seen they take great pride in their perspective preparations, almost as much as Buffalo pizza makers do! Many “imposters” have opened places in Rome with lesser standards and some folks have taken action. I found a court case on line that was published in 2010 to clarify the specific process that deems a pizza “Roman pizza al taglio.” It is quite fascinating.
Overall, Crust in Allentown is bringing a little bit of Rome to one of our beloved neighborhoods and featuring a style of pizza that differs from many in Buffalo.
Grab a slice or a whole 10” pie and have a treat.