Category Archives: Southern Indiana

Charlestown Pizza Co.

On the town square in tiny Charlestown, Ind., a short trip upriver from Jeffersonville, Charlestown Pizza Company occupies a large venue that looks almost like a dance hall, complete with a big, funky circular crystal light fixture above – a legacy, apparently, from a Chinese restaurant that was a prior tenant.

Seven months in business and building a strong word-of-mouth reputation, it turns out that it’s run by folks who learned their pizza and beer at New Albanian Brewing Company (née Rich O’s/Sportstime Pizza). That’s a very good pedigree indeed, and it’s reinforced on Charlestown’s beer list, which features a, er, mug shot of New Albanian publican Roger A. Baylor, warning diners away from mass-market “lite” beers with a stern, “Don’t Drink Swill.”

Indeed, these folks are very serious about their beer, and the selection is exceptional, featuring about 18 bottled beers, all extremely interesting artisan brews with a strong focus on Southern Indiana and the Louisville area.

Draft microbrews, they tell us, are coming soon.

We couldn’t resist splitting a discreet lunchtime glass of The Three Floyds Pride And Joy Mild Ale from Munster, Ind.; and a pleasant glass it was, golden in color with a creamy head, a very fresh, nose-tingling “dry-hopped” citrus-grapefruit aroma and pleasantly bitter flavor.

The short menu includes a variety of Italian-style sandwiches ($3.75 for a half-sandwich, $7 for a whole), plus salads and a couple of hearty Italian-American dishes (baked spaghetti, $4.50, and baked lasagna, $6).

Fresh-made, hand-tossed pizza comes in three sizes (8-inch solo, 14-inch medium and 18-inch large), ranging in price from $3 (for a cheese solo) to $25.50 (for a large with “ultimate” toppings, your choice of five to 10 goodies that include the familiar – pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms – and the more out-there – jalapeños, pineapple, garlic, but no anchovies).

We went with a medium sausage, pepper and onion and were quite satisfied. The crust was well-made and paper-thin if not quite cracker-crisp. Tangy tomato sauce was painted on with proper discretion, topped with plenty of melted cheese showing appetizing brown caramelized spots. Our three-topping selection was amply topped but not overloaded with mild sausage (no hint of Italian fennel) and good, freshly chopped bits of green pepper and white onion cooked just to al dente crispness in the pizza oven. It’s cut in squares, not wedges, and qualifies as a good, straightforward rendition. No, it’s not New York style. Nor is it, well, “Tuscan.” It doesn’t have to be.

We packed about half of the oversize delight in a take-home box, and passed on the dessert pizza ($5), a small pie dressed with cream cheese and your choice of cherry, apple or peach.

A fine meal and a memorable beer (plus an iced tea and a cola) rang up a toll of only $20.71, plus a $4.29 tip.

Charlestown Pizza Co.
850 Main St.
Charlestown, Ind.
(812) 256-2699

On wings of fire

Back Door wings are legendary. Have them mild, medium, hot or “Burner.” LEO Photo by Nicole Pullen.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Nine fine spots for wings)

The calendar says it’s September, and just about everybody in town is fired up for the Cards vs. Cats weekend. So where are the colorful leaves, that hint of wood smoke in the air and the crisp, hazy autumn afternoons that define “football weather”?

OK, so it’s a little early for that, with temperatures still hitting the 90s and few signs of autumn around. But one constant of the season remains: Whether you’re tailgating at the stadium or planning a hearty repast for an afternoon of football on TV, it’s hard to imagine a better football snack than a mess of spicy, crispy Buffalo-style chicken wings.
Continue reading On wings of fire

Things are looking bright on the Sunny Side

The Speakeasy in New Albany was modeled after Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London. The idea originated from proprietors and local musicians Lori (pictured above) and Brad Tharp. Photo by Nicole Pullen.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Treet’s Bakery Cafe, Speakeasy, Connor’s Place)

With three interesting new restaurants recently joining Bistro New Albany, Federal Hill, La Rosita and others in historic downtown New Albany, Louisville’s Sunny Side is looking mighty bright these days.

I’ve been eager to get over and check it out, but the scare stories about miles-long traffic backups during the recent I-64 construction had me so nervous that I wimped out and asked a Hoosier buddy, GREG GAPSIS, to pick up his knife and fork and tell us what’s going on over there.
Continue reading Things are looking bright on the Sunny Side

Asian adventures, New Albany style

The Onion
The Onion Restaurant and Tea House has built quite a following since it opened in New Albany a few years back. LEO photo by Nicole Pullen

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Onion Restaurant and Tea House, Tran Japanese Steakhouse)

It’s been a great pleasure, in recent years, to see such a surge of restaurant-related activity on the north side of the Ohio. The arrival of a growing variety of eateries in Southern Indiana is good news for “foodies” on both sides of the river.

In addition to the obvious – the boomlet of chain eateries on the riverfront and across the Clarksville strip – the region has been gifted in recent years with interesting, locally-owned independent restaurants that range from taquerias and Asian spots to casually sophisticated dining rooms. We’ll have more on that, and a deeper look at the New Albany restaurant renaissance in particular, coming soon.

One of the many epicenters of Southern Indiana eats activity, perhaps just a bit out of sight and out of the way for Kentucky diners, lies along Grant Line and Charlestown roads near I-265 on New Albany’s north side. Continue reading Asian adventures, New Albany style

Butterburger better?

Some pals with roots in Wisconsin (let’s not call them “cheeseheads”) were all but agog with delight when the Culver’s Butterburger chain came to town early this year, and I have to confess that the very idea of a butterburger intrigued me, too. Butter … burger … fat cooked in fat! What’s not to like?

It’s a pretty little fast-food place, too, a sizable cottage in blue and white, neat as a pin, with little square-paned windows that give it a sort of corporate faux-Colonial style.

The signature Deluxe Butterburger was thin and irregularly handformed, not unlike the burgers my mother used to make when we were young. It had a good beefy flavor but was too thin to make rare or juicy, and if there was any butter in it, I sure couldn’t tell by tasting it. The “deluxe” model came with a thin layer of bland yellow cheese, iceberg lettuce and pale tomato and pickle chips, perched on a large, boring white bun that dwarfed the burger.

A side of “cheese curds,” a Wisconsin specialty, proved to be balls of bland cheese, breaded and greasily fried. Frozen custard was the hit of the meal, properly creamy and smooth, although the chocolate flavor was very mild, more like cocoa than dark chocolate. Hmm … Butterburger, breaded-and-fried cheese and rich custard … I don’t think I should get my cholesterol checked today.

My wife’s choice, the Wisconsin Swiss Melt, was an even thinner burger topped with a paper-thin slice of bland white cheese and a ration of limp, greasy fried onions, grilled on rye until the rye was crunchy (and greasy, too). It came with limp and uninteresting fries.

With two soft drinks, all this came to $19.06, a bit spendy for a fast-food burger. I’d certainly choose it over Mickey D’s or Burger King, but it’s not worth a return trip to its suburban locale for me. Next time I want a burger, I’ll get the real thing at Granville Inn or maybe W.W. Cousin’s.

Culver’s of Louisville
4630 Hurstbourne Pkwy.
(There’s also a Culver’s in Corydon, Ind., at 240 Federal Drive, 812-738-6464.)