True Crafted Pizza: In Pizza Veritas
True Crafted Pizza serves up unfussy but delicious pies in south Charlotte
The typical fast-casual restaurant is lively—and noisy—on any given evening. Not True Crafted Pizza in south Charlotte. On a Sunday evening, the pizza joint is busy but muted. A couple shares slices at a corner table, a few loners linger over pints at the bar, and young families quietly settle in for dinner. It could be the movie projected on the wall, a black-and-white Italian film with subtitles, that’s drawn everyone’s attention. It could be the modest but prominent display kitchen that juts into the center of the dining room. More than likely, though, True is quiet because everyone is focused on the pizza.
True serves two kinds: 11-inch personal pies, baked or grilled. It all started with the dough. Partners Todd Gallinek and Ken Martino spent months working with chef Harry Peemoeller of Johnson & Wales University to develop the restaurant’s recipe. The result—a chewy, tender crust—was created specifically to work well with both preparations.
And then there’s the sauce, which, although deceptively simple—it’s made with just pureed tomatoes, salt, and olive oil—was developed with the same detailed approach, this time with chef Brendan Treyball, the restaurant’s main chef. Gallinek and Martino wanted the sauce to be house-made, using a tomato similar to the famed (and pricey) San Marzano variety, the sweet, tender tomato grown in the volcanic soil of San Marzano, Italy. It’s one of only three tomato varietals that can be used for pizza sauce in a certified Vera Pizza Napoletana pie.
After lots of searching, they chose a San Marzano-style tomato grown organically in California.
True’s traditional-style pies are baked in the eatery’s wood stone oven. The dough is hand-tossed, sauced, and cooked for six to seven minutes at up to 700 degrees, leaving the crust light and full of holes—best served by more dense toppings. Offerings include broccoli rabe and sausage pizza ($11) topped with house-made fennel sausage, spicy peppers, and mozzarella; or garlic and clams ($12), a pizza featuring littleneck clams, pancetta, roasted garlic oil, Parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes.
To make a grilled pizza, however, the dough gets rolled out so that it’s slightly more dense and crumbly, before being tossed on the grill, flipped, sauced, and topped. Grilled pies get lighter toppings, including the Prosciutto di Parma ($12), which is topped with prosciutto, arugula, fig preserve, balsamic glaze, and Parmesan; and the BLT ($11), which is topped with bacon, grilled romaine lettuce, tomato, and house-made ranch or bleu cheese dressing.
A few generously portioned appetizers, including crispy risotto fritters ($7) and lightly breaded calamari ($9), round out the menu, along with salads and sandwiches. But really, the pizza is the star of the show here—and typically, it’ll hit your table in fewer than 10 minutes. There’s no shame in skipping straight to the pizza and maybe ordering a little extra for leftovers.