Award-winning food writers, Jane and Michael Stern, were recently in the Charleston writing a piece on soul food (we hear it will be coming out in an upcoming issue of Saveur). While in town, the Sterns made stops at several local favorites, like EVO and Wild Flour Pastry, which they posted on their RoadFood website.
Roadfood is “a website devoted to finding the most memorable local eateries along the highways and back roads of America,” so we’re flattered to have Charleston’s restaurants included on this site!
Here’s what they had to say about their trip to EVO:
If you doubt that we are in the midst of a pizza renaissance, get yourself to North Charleston, South Carolina, and dine at Evo. While the Palmetto State never has been known as source of great pizza, Lowcountry cooks are famously talented; and Evo – an acronym for Extra Virgin Oven – is proof that their creative juices combined with the best local products and a wood-fired oven can equal transcendent pizza.
But before we get to the pizza, may we detour to hors d’oeuvres? To a peak-of-summer panzanella salad, starring big chunks of megaflavored tomato and significant house-made croutons along with pickled red onion, crumbles of creamy blue cheese and basil, all dressed with bright balsamic vinaigrette: one of life’s memorable salads. For a more simple starter, you can get something called an “olive plate.” It is more than a plate. It is a big bowlful of black and green ones – many dozens – along with a bunch of whole garlic cloves that have been roasted until they are soft and sweet, the gorgeous cornucopia marinated in oil well perfumed by basil.
Now, about the pizza. Cooked briefly in a roaring wood-fired oven, it comes out with a crust that is thin and relatively lightweight – crunch more than chew – albeit sturdy enough not to wilt even under seas of melty cheese. Its edge bears the brand of a high-temperature bake in the form of a few char marks on the puffy parts. Toppings range from basic margherita to such wonders as pistachio pesto topped with mozzarella (made here twice daily) and just enough crème fraiche to elevate the eating experience into wanton indulgence. We enjoyed a special of locally made feta along with fresh okra and a puree of roasted garlic and corn as well as the awesome “pork trifecta” of house-made sausage, pepperoni and smoked bacon.
For dessert, it is hard not to indulge in a sampler of Sweeteeth brand chocolates (made by a former employee) that includes a salted caramel heart and a peach cobbler bon bon; but you must also reserve a significant amount of appetite for the amazing blueberry calzone – a pocket of pizza dough filled with dark chocolate melting around local blueberries and drizzled with South Carolina honey.
And here’s what they said about their trip to Wild Flour Pastry:
We missed out on the dish Chris and Amy most highly recommended at Wild Flour Pastry: the sticky buns that baker Lauren Mitterer makes only on Sunday. But after consecutive morning visits on a Wednesday and a Thursday, we hardly feel deprived. We ate what may be the best turnover ever, anywhere — a fine, flaky pastry radiant with butter flavor filled with a mix of Nutella and fresh strawberries. Served warm with morning coffee, it is a breakfast benchmark. In the same major league, Lauren’s coffee cake muffin is loaded with crunchy pecan halves; her raspberry scone strikes the ideal biscuity balance of savory and sweet; and her red velvet cupcake could be a lesson for lesser bakers who try their hand at the red velvet fad but wind up with cloying clods. This woman is a virtuoso who plays her oven like a Stradivarius!
One of the great things about Wild Flour Pastry is that you can taste just about everything Lauren makes, going beyond cupcakes and morning pastries to lemon chess tarts, key lime pies, milk chocolate creme brulee and passion fruit pot de creme, because everything she makes, she makes in single-serving sizes. Of course, her whole repertoire is not available every day, but you can count on enough selections to sate the most voracious appetite.
The place is a tiny storefront with only two tables for the dine-in trade. And by the way, Lauren lived for several years in Seattle. The coffee and espresso are first rate, too.
Come back soon!