Good Monday morning friends, I trust that you weathered the weekend without too much fun or too many weather woes. Here From The Land of Palm Trees, we had a very pleasant weather weekend after Irene exited to the Northeast. My heart goes out this morning to those who have suffered storm damage. For the most part and relatively speaking we got lucky here in The Lowcountry, relative to the Mid-Atlantic coast and New England.
Our Saturday evening was dominated by a varsity high-school football game that was postponed from Friday night due to the storm. My youngest son Noah's Northwood Academy Chargers played their backyard rival, Pinewood Preparatory in North Charleston. The move to Saturday night in North Charleston instead of our normal home football field in Summerville gave Michelle and I the opportunity to FINALLY go to Extra Virgin Oven (EVO) to try out this award winning eatery. To call EVO a pizzeria would be a misnomer of epic sorts, but as evidenced by the signboard outside of the Park Circle location, that is exactly what they are. What is not surprising is that this little gem has a list of awards as long as the line to get into the Coastal Carolina Fair on a Saturday night. Most recently, this month, Food Network Magazine placed EVO on their 50 States and 50 Pizzas list and their Pistachio Pesto artisan pizza was part of their Greatest Pizza's in America choices. In an area that is absolutely flush with GREAT restaurants, it is impressive that EVO has been named Best North Charleston Restaurant by the Charleston City Paper for three years running and in 2008 the Charleston Post and Courier placed EVO on their Top 3 Peoples Choice Restaurant List.
It should be obvious that I was excited to have the chance to try out EVO for myself. As I drove down East Montague towards the quaint corner near Park Circle where EVO lives I was impressed by the re-vitalization of the area by the City of North Charleston. The Park Circle Area has been the focus of a redevelopment plan by the city aimed at creating infill neighborhoods within the section of the city and the project has been cited by Bloomberg's Business Week for their accomplishments. The area of shoppes, bars and restaurants has a chic feel that is reminiscent of upscale metropolitan block in Chicago or Boston. Once again, as I often say to myself, "Really? Are you kidding me, this is here, where I live? Lucky me."
EVO is not a large place, it is fairly intimate and I would imagine that there are always folks hanging out at the bar waiting for a table to open in the dining area. It is casual, but at least on a Saturday Evening I would have to say that the clientelle appeared to be very style concious. We were dining fairly early in the evening and the diners were a mix of families and twenty-somethings, but it is obvious that EVO appeals to a wide range of people. The adult beverage list of options is quite impressive featuring some great craft beers along with a limited, but righteous, selection of white and red wines. I tried a New Belgium 1554, an Enlightened Black Ale from Fort Collins, Colorado and I was pleased with my choice.
I enjoyed my beer while I waited for Michelle, she had taken a pit stop at the mall on the way and had directed me to go ahead and order our dinner since she would be 15 or 20 minutes behind me. I chose for us the award winning Pistachio Pesto, a great looking pizza featuring that classic wood fired thin crust EVO pizza crust embellished with a pistachio pesto (the reason for the name of the pizza), goat cheese, house-made mozzarella, creme fraicle, parmigiana-reggiano and sea salt. To me, it looked and sounded wonderful, but for my wife judging by the look on her face when I told her what I had chosen, it was "not so much." My suspicion was confirmed when she casually picked at a couple of small pieces. My wife, bless her heart, is a complete and utter pizza with red-sauce traditionalist. Actually, my tastes are much more bold and courageous as I border on being a foodie, entertained and attracted by building a creative dish using unusual combinations of foods to create a symphony of taste for the buds. Michelle is more rigid and if the ingredient list includes something she doesn't care for no degree of culinary finese can achieve a highly rated dish.
I am also not a big appetizer fan when I am dining out. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't care for the food, it is just that if I am at a fine restaraunt, my nose is usually keen enough upon walking through the door that I don't need a mini plate to stimulate my appetite. I have however, been known to order 2 different appetizers as my main course, especially if the dining spot is known for the appetizer. I am however a big fan of salads, not just necessarily any salad, but I really look forward to a fresh and crisp salad leading up to the entree of choice. I would even say that I have fairly decent critical skills when it comes to recognizing and rating a really good salad. I had ordered a Farmer's Salad, constructed with local bibb lettuce, mixed local greens, arugula, crisp bacon, carrots, cucumbers, fresh chives and oregano and an heirloom tomato that was as sweet as any fresh tomato I have EVER tasted. I have got to tell you, bad tomatoes can render a SPECTACULAR salad inedible, but a great fresh from the garden heirloom tomato can make a Spectacular salad, OUTRAGEOUS. This salad was OUTRAGEOUS. I can not describe to you the freshness that existed within that bowl.
After dinner we headed over to the football stadium to enjoy watching our son and his teammates. The weather was perfect for a "Friday Night Lights" experience on a Saturday night. As always, the Chargers represented their school well, even though they lost on an absolute last second touchdown, literally, so you know it was an exciting game. The evening also presented the perfect opportunity for a post-game photo of our favorite football player with his favorite cheerleader.