Authentic Pizza and Old-World Italian Cuisine
The owners of Crust are delighted to introduce their East Coast Italian cuisine to Chandler and at the same time preserve a bit of Chandler’s history. Michael Merendino, Ryan Mitchell and Duke Hornia opened the doors of their new restaurant this past August. They are elated about moving into a historic building, the impressive Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort. It’s taken months of hard work to convert the dirt basement that sits directly under their Crust Chandler restaurant into a late night lounge. Once a speakeasy during the prohibition, with a separate unmarked entrance from the street, has now been rebirthed as The Ostrich with food, specials and cocktail service. In keeping with the preservation of history, the owners salvaged wonderful keepsakes, a rustic wood bar and beautiful leather booths from the legendary Monti’s La Casa Vieja restaurant in Tempe, which closed last year after nearly 60 years.
The Ostrich has a deep history; not only is it housed in Arizona’s first golf resort, but Dr. A.J. Chandler, who owned an ostrich farm, stored ostrich feathers there in hopes of them becoming a fashion trend back in the flapper dress era. Now you can enjoy this legendary ambiance for an evening or when holding your next special occasion there.
“Downtown Chandler is vibrant and exciting and we are happy to be part of the community,” says Merendino.
Not new to the restaurant scene, the owners successfully operate two other Crust locations in the Valley: two pizzerias, My Pie, and a catering business all serving delicious, homemade fare that converts locals into regulars. In fulfilling their vision of opening neighborhood restaurants, they continue to use only fresh, homemade ingredients and offer them at affordable prices.
Big on Taste
Merendino is from Long Island, New York and grew up helping his father in their pizzeria using many of his grandfather’s recipes. An appealing menu starts with six appetizers that include fried calamari, a meat and cheese board and filet sliders. The bruschetta board offers many tempting choices. My favorites are the apple and fig, the cucumber and feta, the artichoke and mushroom and the Soppressata, which is served with a basil pesto.
If you love pizza, you are in for a treat. Baked in a wood burning oven, you have a choice of thin crust, Sicilian style crust or the original Rustica individual pizza. The original recipe for Pizza Rustica came from Sicily where the town’s people would bake their bread in a community oven, leaving scraps of dough. The less fortunate would gather the dough and stretch it to make thin, odd shape pizzettes. They’d top the dough with sauce and whatever simple ingredients they had. Merendino’s grandfather brought this concept to America and it’s become a favorite among diners.
Other Italian savory specialties include Shrimp Scampi, Chicken Francese, Chicken Parmigiana and Eggplant Parmigiana. The pasta dishes are so good you may have trouble picking one. My suggestion is to try a different one each time you visit until you’ve tasted them all and then decide which you enjoyed the most. I recommend you start with the Penne alla Vodka or the Rigatoni Pesto Shrimp.
You’ll want to save room for dessert. Selections include delicious mini cannolis, tiramisu, New York cheesecake, a warm cookie ice cream sandwich and a strawberry mascarpone cake. There is also a nice selection of after dinner drinks.
With a selection of eight wonderfully crafted cocktails, I know you’ll be tempted to try a few. The Aperol Spritz is the Italian happy hour favorite and includes liquors Lunetta Prosecco, Aperol and soda water. The Moscow Mule includes vodka, lime and Bundaberg ginger beer. There is also the Crust Manhattan and the Hemmingway Daiquiri, and a wide offering of wine and beer.
Yes, the Crust team is happy to be a part of the downtown Chandler community.
“We’re here to stay. We love what we do and enjoy serving our East Coast Italian food,” Merendino says.
Restaurant Hours: Sun-Tues 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m.
Wed–Thurs 11 a.m.-midnight (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.)
Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-2 a.m. (kitchen closes at midnight.)
Ostrich Hours: Wed-Thurs 7 p.m.-midnight
Fri-Sat 7 p.m.-2 a.m.
10 N. San Marcos Place
Chandler, AZ 85225