Sadly, the variety of pizza available to us these days does not support our weekly habit. We have continued to enjoy Hearth and Table as well as The Café on Hawk Creek. However, much to our chagrin, they are both closed temporarily.
Hearth and Table has promised to keep its menu as it relocates to the old Lincoln City bowling alley where it will re-emerge as Olde Line Lanes & Kitchen. Yes, there will be bowling. We love the pizza but are worried about the noise level. Reopening in May, possibly. We will review the new incarnation as soon as it reopens. Such nice people there, too.
The Café on Hawk Creek is tied with Hearth and Table for our pizza affections. Sometime shortly after our last visit in January, they embarked on a major remodeling and expansion. They had to put in a new foundation and are greatly expanding the seating capacity. Luckily, the wood-fired oven is part of the new plan. No idea when they will reopen. “Spring,” they say, so it could be June.
We’ve tried making pizza at home and a blog on that will be along soon, but in the meantime, we returned to Rusty Truck Brewing. We had pizza there last August, right before we went to Europe, and I wanted to have a second visit before we passed judgment.
The Rusty Truck is first and foremost a brewery with a baker’s dozen of beers on tap. There is a full pub-type menu with entrees and sandwiches, but the key to our interest is pizza made in a decent, if not wood-fired, pizza oven.
We had the good fortune to sit right above the pizza station where we were delighted to watch the pizzaiola at his craft. He knew how to handle the dough and deftly managed an enormous pizza peel as he shuffled the pies in-and-out of the oven.
The pizzas are small, with a crust that is thick by Italian standards, but tasty and chewy. Ingredients are top notch, although some of the varieties are odd by Italian standards. The “Meat Lovers” pizza includes grilled chicken, for example, and there are two more of the eight offerings that include chicken in a starring role. Not my kind of thing.
I will say the fresh ingredients are top quality, the mozzarella is gooey and stretchy, the sauce flavorful. And even though a pie is only 8-inches (smaller than the average Roman pizza) I could not eat my entire pizza. Luckily leftover pizza is welcomed on my breakfast plate.
The beers are very good, too. While one can find their beer in more than 80 locations in Oregon, it is nice to have a pint at the source.
We tried a non-pizza dinner at the Rusty Truck one evening in February. We went on a Wednesday and found a very quiet scene with seating only in the bar. In winter they serve pizza only on Friday and Saturday when the tourists hit town, so we settled for Steamer Clams (me) and Cavatappi-Crusted Mac & Cheese for Ric. My clams tasted off so I rejected them after eating very few and shared Ric’s M&C, which I would classify as merely OK. The server did knock 50% off my clams (should have been 100% IMO), but I would not order them again. I can do better at home. We will try to discipline ourselves to go have lunch and try something other than pizza. After all, in Italy, pizza is only for dinner!
Pizza Quality: 2 Quality ingredients, an especially good crust and some creative toppings using chicken, if you like that sort of thing. J Can’t give it a 3 because Hearth & Table and The Café on Hawk Creek are far superior. And then there’s chicken which just does not belong on pizza.
Service: 3 Caring, friendly, but not annoyingly so. Pizzas come out fast.
Ambiance: 3 I’m giving Rusty Truck a 3 because it is a cute space, on the large size but with good separation of dining areas and nice outdoor space as well. It can be noisy when children are present. Best to dine after 19:00 to avoid the rug rats. Or sit in the bar.
Total Points: 8
Returnability: Go-to Place – fine if you are in the area.