By Robin Garr
I’m sure I’ve confessed this before: I’m a pizza snob. I learned pizza in New. York City, with graduate studies in Italy, and I want my pizza authentic, artisanal, and made according to tradition. Pineapple pizza? Harrumph! I’m not even comfortable with jalapeños or broccoli on my pie.
But then I spotted a pickle pizza with Pop’s Pepper Patch Spicy Habagardil pickles on top. Hey, now! A strange yet irresistible call lured me out to Craft House Pizza’s new shop on Hurstbourne Parkway. I need this in my life!
So I got my pickle pizza, and it made me happy. But it was a close call: I saw it on the Craft House website, but when I got to the eatery, it had disappeared from the printed menu, d’oh! I asked our friendly server about this, and she was able to make one happen. “It’s still in the system,” she said.
If you’re intrigued too, you’d better head for Craft House sooner rather than later, or even call ahead. I can’t guarantee its survival, although with enough demand, who knows!
What’s a Craft House? Listen up, as this is somewhat complicated. It’s a five-unit chain (four in suburban Louisville, one in Lawrenceburg, Ky.) that split from the larger local Hometown Pizza family in 2021. The new outfit joined with the owner’s Hometown Brewing Company to form a one-stop shop for artisanal-style pizza and microbrewery suds. (It doesn’t appear to be connected with the short-lived Craft House in Crescent Hill, which earlier gave way to Parlour pizza. Whew!)
Whatever the back story, we dropped in to the brand-new Hurstbourne location – which opened last month – and found the pizza satisfying, the beer tasty, and the menu’s pizza array bolstered by a selection of other Italian-American standards.
There’s a choice of about a dozen house pizza combos that come in four sizes from Individual ($7-$8) through Small and Medium to Large ($22-$23). Actually it’s one less than a dozen with the departure of that pickle pie, but I hope that’s a temporary disappearance.) You can also build your own pizza by combining those four sizes with dozens of crust, cheese, meat or veggie toppings plus “craft” toppings like meatballs, grilled chicken, and feta cheese.
Eight pasta dinners with garlic bread range in price from $7 (for spaghetti marinara) to $12 (for ground beef lasagna), and a half-dozen sandwiches are $10-$11. There’s also a tempting collection of appetizers ($5-$13) and salads ($7-$13.50).
Eight Hometown Brewing craft beers are helpfully listed with brief descriptions and alcohol by volume. A 16-ounce glass of The Formula ($5), a lightweight, citrusy sipping beer, went down easily with the spicy pickle pizza and our other dishes, too.
Let’s talk about that pickle pie (pictured at the top of this page). They had me at Habagardil: I’ve been a fan of the local Pop’s Pepper Patch product for years, and the spicy level is just right for me. Not too mild, yet not fiery enough to hurt. An individual pizza ($7) with the traditional thick crust, not deep-dish thick but not foldably thin either, was crisp and crackery with good toasty flavor. It was spread with a dollop of creamy, tangy ranch dressing, topped with eight or ten spicy Habagardil slices, drizzled with fiery Buffalo sauce and sprinkled with hot red pepper flakes. Authentic Italian it’s certainly not, but I loved the flavor and texture combination. I would do it again, without shame.
A Mediterranean salad big enough for two ($12) hit a home run. It came with a vinaigrette-style Greel dressing in a tub on the side, but the salad itself was so well made that it really didn’t need more. A large, shallow white bowl was filled with fresh, coarsely chopped green romaine, lightly coated with just a touch of oil. It was decorated with four large artichoke heart halves and liberally sprinkled with crumbled feta cheese, chopped red and green bell pepper, black and green olives, and a pale cherry tomato. It was flavorful and refreshing, a memorable salad.
The salad was flanked by four slices of warm, crusty, garlic bread, a gift that just kept on giving as plenty more came with a pasta dish. It was sprinkled with chopped dried herbs and drizzled with butter; it wasn’t too garlicky but definitely passed flavor muster.
Spaghetti with meatballs ($9) was hearty and filling, decent if unspectacular. It came in a single-serving iron skillet filled with a generous portion of thick spaghetti loaded with thick, textured tomato sauce, slightly sweet and redolent of onion.
Although the menu specified meat sauce, this appeared to be meatless marinara; that was perfectly all right, as meat sauce on meatballs might have been a trifle much. Two meatballs the size of golf balls were firmly textured and dense.
With a salad, a pizza and a pasta and a tasty golden pilsner, our hearty lunch came to a very reasonable $34.98, plus a $7.26 tip.
Craft House Pizza
2813 N. Hurstbourne Pkwy.
Noise Level: It was a busy, noisy place on a Saturday afternoon, with decibel levels running at an average 76dB and spiking to a conversation-blocking 86.5 db.
Accessibility: The shopping center space and the restrooms appear fully accessible to wheelchair users, but some seating is in booths.
Other locations: Preston Highway, Jeffersontown, Fern Creek, and Lawrenceburg, Ky.