Over break, the family and I found ourselves up in Carmel running an errand, and it was lunchtime, so of course, I wanted to go somewhere new. I remembered that Coalition had opened nearby, and a couple of you guys had liked it, so we decided to give it a try.
This is a place where you walk in and order at the counter and they bring you your food. There are a lot of menus hanging on the wall so you don’t have to stare up at one menu with a bunch of people. They also have beer and wine, which is always a plus in my book. It was really, really cold in there, which was my only gripe about the experience (and to their credit they did say they would turn up the heat when I asked). The people working there were very nice and seemed very knowledgeable about the food when I asked a few questions about what was in certain things.
I wasn’t really sure how much to get and I didn’t realize they potentially have a lunch option with a smaller pizza, but hubby and I just ended up getting our own pizzas, which was fine with me because we tend to go to opposite sides of the pizza menu if left to our own devices. For instance, I went with “The Athenian” ($10.50) which consisted of a pizza with roasted Indiana Amish chicken, kalamata olives, pine nuts, mozzarella, feta cheese and pesto sauce. Ok, there’s supposed to be roasted red peppers too, but they aren’t my favorite items in general, so I had them leave them off. It was really very good—the crust was thin and crisp but not at all burnt and even though I was worried there might be too much on the pizza, it was portioned just right. I appreciated the meat option with the chicken, but honestly, I think it would have been just as good without it. I really liked the crunch of the pine nuts giving the whole thing a great texture—and there were plenty of olives, which are one of my favorite things. There was a fair amount of cheese, but not so much that you lost the flavor of the pesto and toppings. It was really quite good. Both hubby and my son really enjoyed it as well.
Hubby’s pizza, on the other hand, was “The Teamster” and was topped with red sauce, sliced of meatballs, mozzarella and giardinera ($9.5). This was an interesting combo as well—it was unique and I liked the kick both in spice and acid from the giardinera (which is an Italian mix of pickled veggies that often include peppers to give it a little heat). The meatballs are also housemade and were pretty tender, even after being heated again on the pizza. Again, meatballs aren’t typically my favorite things, but these were seasoned pretty well and were good with the giardinera. My only complaint about the pizza was the crust didn’t hold up as well to these toppings—not sure if it was the sauce or the heavier ingredients, but it got a little soggy towards the middle. Hubby loved it though and went back and forth about whose pizza he thought was better.
My daughter had a pasta dish—the baked macaroni ($7.50). This is their version of mac and cheese. It was actually fusilli pasta—you know the corkscrew shape—and it was in a cheesy sauce. It’s described as baked with a breadcrumb crust, but I would guess this was just pasta that was tossed in the cheesy sauce and then topped with some breadcrumbs—it just didn’t have that crustiness that comes from a pasta that is baked. It was okay, but didn’t really meet up to the expectations I had in my mind. It’s an easy dish to get kids to eat though.
My son had the kid’s portion of the pasta rosso ($5)—which is your basic spaghetti with red sauce and is topped with some shreds of mozzarella. They do make their red sauce in house, and it isn’t bad. I didn’t eat a ton of it to really analyze it, but there was certainly nothing negative about it that jumped out at me. It’s a good-sized kid portion and he seemed happy enough with it.
All in all, other than having to wear our coats the whole time we were in there, we were pleasantly surprised by Coalition. Hubby commented that if it were near us, we’d put it into our pizza rotation for sure. I am intrigued by the sandwiches too. Anyone tried one of them?
365 West 116th Street
Carmel, IN 46032