Originally just a food truck, Coastal Crust has set up permanent residence. Tucked behind Vintage Coffee & Cafe off Coleman Boulevard in Mt. Pleasant, there’s ample outdoor seating, a campfire smell in the air, and a boisterous playground vibe. If you’re looking for a place where your offspring can run wild while you pound back some adult beverages, it’s pretty much nirvana.
Open only for dinner, the menu still focuses predominantly on pizza, but a few appetizers are available. The smoked trout spread ($10) was a highlight. Notably smoky, suitably creamy, and a little fishy, I wouldn’t change a thing. The accompanying bread is outstanding — soft and pillowy, but with good chew. There’s a little char visible on the edges, but not enough to interfere with the flavor. Accompanied by some pickled okra and green tomatoes, the dish is far more elegant than the picnic table/screaming child setting might indicate.
My own screaming child enjoyed the converted truck-cum-slide as the adults sampled the meatballs ($9). Although tender, flavorful, and unburdened by excessive filler, unless you’ve got loaves and fishes-type powers, don’t go expecting the three diminutive balls to feed the multitudes. Rather, enjoy your one bite and then pass around the half-loaf of the same excellent bread to dip in what sauce remains. It’s a bit clunky as appetizers go, but hey, you’re off-handedly watching eating it in a playground on a wooden bench, so what did you expect?
The salads had potential, but both fell a little short. The small Caesar ($8/$12 for a whole) finds half of a heart of romaine still intact and topped with shaved Parmesan, two vinegar-cured white anchovies, and two small asparagus spears. Although the traditional house-made dressing was above average, the anchovies skewed the flavors too sour, and I found myself longing for the contrasting crunch of some croutons.
The small arugula salad ($8/$12 for a whole) fared better. The fresh, peppery arugula was topped with pine nuts, halved cherry tomatoes, and a drizzle of pesto, as well as some thick, sweet balsamic dressing. The roasted cippolini onions are off the chain and should be put on everything, but where was my house ricotta? Missing ingredients on otherwise small, spendy salads make me sad.
For better or worse, I didn’t have the willpower to stand in the long order line twice. Coastal Crust will test your patience if you tend to be short on it. Expect to wait in a 10-minute queue and then tack on another 40 to 50 for your food. Service at the window is unhurried and friendly, but hopefully they can find a way to turn things out a little faster or maybe just hand every customer a hunk of that bread to tide them over.
That said, when that oyster mushroom pizza ($15) arrives, it is a thing of beauty. Topped with a generous smattering of mushrooms, I propose popping the word “Asian” in front of the name on behalf of those of us that see the words “oyster mushroom pizza” and stop reading. Made with olive oil in lieu of red sauce, it also features a sprinkle of green onions and a generous allotment of ‘hoisin-chili glaze.’ Sticky, sweet, and unexpected — although that’s admittedly my own ADHD fault — the flavor marriage of Chinese five spice and Thai sweet chili sauce totally takes over. A little too out there for my pizza purest tastes, it was still cheesy and greasy, with a savory-sweet ‘guilty pleasure’ quality my dining companions enjoyed.
While I’m renaming things, let’s call the cheese pizza ($12) The Dust Bowl. Although the slightly salty, fresh tomato sauce was patently visible, the flour level is such to leave dust all over your face, your hands, and your neighbor’s lap. Consider yourself a health hazard to anyone with Celiacs. Chintzy on the cheese and with a little too much oregano flavor, I realize they’re cooking with wood, but good grief. In defiance of physics, the flimsy crust was at once burned yet undercooked, and by burned I mean pure carbon, like when your marshmallow catches on fire, but you decide to go ahead and eat it anyway.
The charred veggie pizza ($15) was not really all that charred in any respect, but that’s comparably a good thing. Paper-thin slices of zucchini, chunks of red onion, and oily, well-cooked broccoli rabe garnish a generous portion of mozzarella and house-made ricotta. The horseradish-y notes of the broccoli rabe add an interesting, bitter balance to all the creamy cheese. Very green and fresh looking, the lack of sauce and wafer-thin crust arguably qualifies this more as flatbread than pizza, yet without the crispness one would expect. Nonetheless, with far fewer ‘dancing too close to the flames’ issues and a great mix of flavors, I’d order one again.
I thought Grandma pizza ($14) was always square, but it’s also hip to be round. If a traditional cheese pizza is what you crave, go for the matriarch. The fresh, sweet, and garlicky tomato sauce is where it’s at. Topped with house-made mozzarella and little bits of basil, this pie was inarguably the best of the bunch.
For a food truck-turned-brick-and-mortar that still feels a bit food truck-y, Coastal Crust does a pretty good job. Is it going to change your life? Unlikely. Is this the place you want to take your beloved to propose marriage? I hope not. But if you’ve got kids and want to wear them out while you wait 40 minutes for pizza, it will more than scratch that itch.
Stay cool. Support City Paper.
City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.