Indianapolis is quickly becoming one of the hottest food cities in America. A destination for true foodies who are interested in everything from fine dining to food trucks. This column will put the spotlight on one of these local hot spots to help get the word out and share in the love of all things food.
Review by Dustin Heller
I’d have a hard time believing that anyone reading this column right now isn’t a lover of pizza. After all these years, I’ve personally never met a pizza that I didn’t like…although, some are definitely better than others (I’ll keep my opinions on the lesser ones to myself). With that in mind, our foodie journey takes us to a quaint little pizza and wine joint that is serving up artisan pies that are big on flavor.
The Nook is an American-style pizzeria that uses locally sourced products and fresh, house-made ingredients in all of their culinary creations. The name really says it all as the restaurant is literally located in the corner nook at 6513 N College Ave, just behind its big brother, The Northside Social. The Northside restaurant group wanted to show their love for pizza and wine to Indianapolis, and hence The Nook was born.
The restaurant is warm and cozy with a small dining area and intimate bar, perfect for a quiet date night or even dinner with friends. The interior feels like it belongs beach side at the Hamptons with its neutral tones and beautiful lighting. They also have a delightful patio area that is perfect for outdoor dining (it if ever warms up!). When it comes to the food, pizza takes a backseat to no one. All the handcrafted pies are creative and unique using only the freshest ingredients available.
Although pizza takes center stage, The Nook also has a nice variety of starters, salads and desserts to tempt your taste buds. I recently had the pleasure of sinking my teeth into this great menu, and I feel very confident in my “can’t-miss” items. No one wants to order the wrong pizza, so this is where I can be of some assistance. So, without further ado, here is what you “can’t miss” when visiting The Nook.
Mean Green: This pie is mean because of the pickled jalapeno and it’s green because of the spinach, but I promise, it’s going to leaving you feeling pretty nice. Let’s be real, you can’t have a mean pizza with traditional tomato sauce. The mean green is covered with a creamy spinach sauce that is rich in flavor without being too heavy. From there, they pile on the freshness in the form of smoked chicken, fresh tomato, chopped spinach, the aforementioned pickled jalapeno and then top it all off with house-blended cheese and Romano Parmesan. I’m a sucker for heat, and to say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. I’m not one to play favorites…but I’m just saying.
Piggy Smalls: ”Piggy Piggy Piggy can’t you see, sometimes your meats just hypnotize me”.** After reading that back, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to all of the readers, The Nook, and especially Biggie Smalls (RIP). That’s enough of my nonsense; let’s get back to this glorious pie. It’s sort of The Nook’s take on a meat lover’s pizza, but it is so much more than that. They start with their signature tomato sauce and pile it high with spicy ‘nduja sausage, pepperoni, country ham and fennel to add some freshness and texture. Everything I just mentioned is delicious, but what sets this pie apart from the rest is the cheese…in addition to the house blended cheese; they also top it with fresh mozzarella and my fave, goat cheese. Bring your appetite for this one!
**This was a lame attempt to re-write the lyrics to the Biggie Smalls classic rap song, Hypnotize. I guess I can give up my dreams of becoming a hip hop star.
The Nook: You had to know that the namesake pie was going to make this list, right? To that point, it’s not getting in on name alone. The Nook is the restaurant’s signature pie, and when you get a load of what they put on this beauty, you’ll understand why. It’s traditional in the fact they use tomato sauce, but traditional pretty much stops right there. They do add fennel sausage and applewood smoked bacon, which is sort of traditional but not really. What I’m really wanting to get to are the red wine braised mushrooms and the pickled red onions (they pickle them in-house). They could throw these two toppings on a piece of plain white bread and I’d be sold. It’s no coincidence that they chose this pie to bear the same name as the restaurant.
Stuffed Dates: It’s hard to not focus on the pizza when visiting a pizza place, but I’d be doing all of you a disservice if I didn’t tell you about this show-stealing starter. The dates are stuffed with goat cheese, giving them a nice earthly flavor and creamy texture. The sweetness of the date is offset by the tartness of the goat cheese. Add to that the savory of the bacon jam and the freshness of a grapefruit-fennel salad, and you have yourself a perfect culinary creation. Pro tip: you’re probably gonna want to order two of these because they go super fast!
To all of the Indy foodies and pizza lovers out there, look no further than The Nook for your next artisan pie.