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DeSano Pizza Bakery has been on the scene for a long time, but it wasn't until last month that I finally went there. Why did it take me so long, you ask?
Well, I had concerns. I had concerns about parking ( it's downtown ), and about the exposed kitchen ( would it be 1,000,000 degrees in the place?). I had concerns about the way to order, and the fact that there are communal tables. I had concerns based on some of the reviews I read on Yelp and Zomato, complaining about price and charred pizza.
But I also had a ton of friends with trusted palates telling me I needed to go there. So, I went. People, this review is about to be Honest... Really Honest.
First off, yes, it's downtown, but there is a parking lot. Did I bottom out my car in it? Yes. Am I a terrible driver? Yes, so maybe it's not their gravel lot's fault. The building looks like a newly built lumber warehouse from the outside, and the front door feeds you into a lobby with a counter and large menu overhead. For me, this is stressful. Do we go in and have a seat? Is this area just for takeout? There were no signs, no other customers in the lobby with us, and also no one behind the counter. We stood there for a few minutes and mulled over our choices. Being a highly anxious person, this is my worst fear when going to a restaurant: Not knowing "The Situation".
Luckily, right when we were about to head back out to the car, a super friendly employee appeared with a huge smile and the slight hint of something herbal that probably isn't used in the pizzas. He talked us through the menu, and "The Situation" -- order at the counter, sit down at your table, wait for your food to be ready, accoutrements at the front of the dining room by the pizza ovens.
We ordered the Napoletana, a pizza with broccoli rabe, sausage, scamorza (cheeze!), mozzarella di bufala, and pecorino romano, and the Vesuvio calzone, which is stuffed full of soppressata, prosciutto, pepperoni, garlic, scamorza, mozzarella di bufala, and pecorino romano. We both LOVED the crust, not to mention the sport of trying to figure out which oven our pizzas were in, as they are fully exposed to the dining room. During our visit, the place was pretty dead, and it was still a little warmer than my husband would have liked, but I was perfectly comfortable. I can imagine that it can really heat up in there with a full house.
But back to the food. From my experience, the people complaining about burnt crust just aren't familiar with pizza that comes out of a real pizza oven. Our crust had a little crisp and a few bits of char, but it was completely within the range of deliciousness that I expected from a place churning out real pizzas. To be concise: the pizza is good, but my husband's calzone stole the show.
Even with all of the meats and cheeses, the calzone wasn't greasy. In the future, we'll split it and add a salad to round out the meal. This brings me to my next point -- I'm about as cheap as cheap gets, and I didn't find DeSano's expensive at all. The pizzas are definitely large enough to split, and the alcohol was downright cheap ( the beer we drank is twice the price at a King Street Italian restaurant that will remain unnamed. Okay, it won't: INDACO, $9 FOR PERONI IS HIGHWAY ROBBERY ). Plus, if you really want to save a bit, you can bring your own wine ( but not beer ). I definitely see champagne and DeSano's in my future.
The overall "situation" is awkward, but the pizza is great. The crust is just the right balance of crispy on the bottom and chewy at the top. Order at the counter as soon as you walk in, and then sit and wait for your food to be ready. Portions are large enough to split with one other person, even though you may not want to share.
Beer and Wine is available for purchase, but you can bring your own wine ( NOT beer ) to enjoy with your dinner, too.
94 Stuart Street
Charleston SC, 29403
Gravel lot in front of the restaurant, but be careful. Move slowly if your car sits low to the ground ( like mine does ), or you may bottom out. On second thought, move slowly anyway. It's a parking lot, not a speedway.