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.