July 31, 2015
Nestled among South Park’s finest shops in Phillips Place sits Wolfgang Puck’s Pizza Bar. The exterior of the establishment keeps with the look of the shopping center, but delightful treasures lay within. Upon entry, you’re greeted immediately by an impressive island bar of darkly stained wood, stocked full of inviting liquors and taps featuring some local brews. The dining area of the restaurant boasts the same sable-stained wood, paired with high ceilings to give a feeling of lightness, and is peppered with wine bottle sculptures, catching the eye of an observant diner.
Tonight is a night for support. Local Charlotte bloggers, writers and professional networkers are gathering for a greater cause: to help Second Harvest Food Bank, a nonprofit dedicated to feeding Charlotte’s hungry population. Wolfgang Puck’s Pizza Bar is resolute in contributing to the food bank’s cause through this inspiring partnership and a new initiative set on taking full advantage of the wildfire that is the new communal world of social media platforms. Here’s the idea: every Wednesday, for every social media post with the hashtag #WP4SH and a picture of an item enjoyed at the Pizza Bar, the Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar will donate $1 to the Second Harvest Food Bank. Simple! Now anyone has the opportunity to help those in need by simply eating a delicious meal. The money generated through this project will be allocated to feeding children in need here in Mecklenburg County and the surrounding area, which the food bank supports. Each dollar donated equates to over five meals. The CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank, Kay Carter, who has worked with the food bank for over 11 years, was present during the kickoff event Wednesday. She conveyed the shared goals with the Pizza Bar ardently to the attendees. After her speech, when asked the what her favorite pizza topping was, she coyly responded, “the prosciutto,” but she also made sure to let it be known all the pizzas at the Pizza Bar are above par.
Kay’s response could not be disputed—all the food and drinks served were exceptional. The night began with the bar serving a strong and muddled fuchsia strawberry and vodka cocktail. For those who cringe from sweet drinks, not to worry. With its obvious tart berry notes, this cocktail lingers on the back of the throat to mingle with the sweeter notes. Following the cocktail was a truffled corn soup garnished with a willowy slice of dried truffle, infused oil floating atop the soup and vibrant micro chives. The truffle flavor hits the palate immediately and is slowly dispersed by the velvety texture of the corn itself. Despite the full flavor, this soup proved to be remarkably light.
Next on the menu was another bright and friendly dish—a local melon salad, complete with avocado purée, cilantro and a fine feta. The balance is worthy of filing away into your food memory bank. The feta was a great accompaniment and proved a quality cheese as it was finely chopped but still did not lose its integrity in a dish which features a watery melon. It also did not overpower the salad. The cilantro was an unexpected addition, mint or basil would have been a more traditional choice, but the herb was well received.
Tomatoes are a summer dish and no meal, especially at a pizza bar, would be complete without them as a feature. Guests grazed on heirloom tomato salad shooters, garnished with basil aioli, pickled shallots, crisped prosciutto and fresh basil to boot. The winning component of the dish was surely the aioli, followed closely by the salty goodness of the prosciutto, both of which melded the flavors of the entire salad to fashion a charming balance.
The final finger food of the night was a North Carolina Shrimp, barbecued to perfection and blanketed by a relish of fresno chili and pickled peaches. The fresno chili showcased the spice, while the pickled peaches brought forth an amazing sweet and sour mix. The shrimps’ barbecue flavors were reminiscent of childhood Fourth of July celebrations and screamed of summer.
Bringing it all home was of course the pizza. First was the Margarita. Wolfgang’s pizza was impressive in the attention to the ingredients both on the pizza and the preparation itself. The pizza’s bottom was crunchy, reminiscent of a light cracker, but also satisfying in the gumminess factor of the tomato and cheese base. The outer crust itself was significant and boisterous with the always coveted, perfectly toasted air bubbles. Much the same can be said for the truffled pizza, which was provided as the cap of the evening. The coveted umami mushroom flavors of the truffle were imposing in the best sense. This pizza delivered. When it comes to pizza and its accompaniments, Wolfgang Puck’s Pizza Bar definitely takes it to the next level. With an idea that promises not only to help those in need but to also provide a gorgeous meal, this partnership is sure to generate greatness.