Charleston Eats: EVO

October 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

1075 E Montague Ave
North Charleston, SC 29405

I managed to make a trip out here on my fairly short visit to Charleston.  I recalled seeing EVO featured for their use of fresh, local ingredients and their namesake “Extra Virgin Oven” wood-fired pizzas.  It seemed straightforward and charming enough of a concept that their presence stuck in my head, and I figured that this place might be worth investigating if I ever found myself with the time and the stomach space during my trip (a rare commodity amongst the many great restaurants to explore in the area).  That day, I was craving something lighter after all the heavy food I’d been consuming, and some quick research led me to notice that their salads looked divine.  I soon ended up in the small and refreshingly quaint historical district of North Charleston checking out a quick lunchtime sample of a daily special salad and one of their pizzas.

butterbean & squash salad
Ambrose butterbeans & yellow squash, pickled red onions, breakfast radishes, arugula, toasted pine nuts, citrus tarragon vinaigrette

I was pretty well delighted with this salad on all accounts.  Not only was it ample in size for the price ($8), it was packed with loads of fresh ingredients.  Creamy butterbeans harmonized with the mildness of raw julienned yellow squash while small slivers of pickled onion added tiny moments of acid and the radishes contributed their mild pepperiness.  The bitterness of the arugula was tempered by the vinaigrette, and toasted pine nuts added notes of gentle smokiness.  This was a great salad texturally and expertly brought many subtle flavors together.  I was super impressed with this salad and appreciated their creative combinations with local, seasonal ingredients that let the elements all shine independently.  It’s far too easy to underestimate the difficulty of pulling together a truly great salad, but EVO managed to do this effortlessly.  I’d be in here getting salads all the time if I lived a bit closer.

calabrese & arugula pizza (large)
roasted red pepper purée, arugula, spicy calabrese, garlic confit, split creek feta, mozzarella, parmigiano-reggiano

Sometimes you can just look at a pizza and know it’s going to rock.  The way the crust has bubbled and wrinkled under intense heat and the cheese has browned in appealing patches is always quite enticing.  If you’ve experienced the allure of a wood burning oven pizza, I’m sure you’ll recognize these qualities.  As such, EVO does quite a great job, but I suspect that it’s possible that the crust might be too “well done,” thin, and nearly dry for some as it did err on that side of the equation.  These are favored traits for some and it did help make the pizza feel a bit less heavy, so it’s more a matter of personal taste.  I was able to appreciate it stylistically and found the extra crisp crust to be a nice base for creamy cheese, spicy meat, and warm wilted greens.  I would have preferred a little more sauce, though, as that zippiness from red pepper was lost on our pie and would have been greatly appreciated.  While I suspect that I might prefer other combinations that they have,the execution was still magnificent enough that I trust them for sure and would gladly return here given the opportunity.
Final Verdict:  EVO does wood burning oven pizza quite well and manages to really embrace and develop their own style by simply merging classic ingredients along with local produce.
If this were close to me, I’d be in here eating their salads all the time and trying to persuade you into letting me eat a slice or two of your pizza.  It’s too difficult to pick between the two.  If this is your style of pizza, you’ll likely love it, but don’t let that prevent you from trying some of their salads or soups which really go above and beyond in creativity and quality.

EVO Pizza on Urbanspoon


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