Crust Pizzeria brings upscale, family-friendly dining to Carmel Valley


In Crust they trust.

Kimia and Matt Othick have opened a Crust Pizzeria in Torrey Hills Shopping Center and hope to build a thriving community eatery with the same winning recipe as their first location in Carlsbad: an adult- and family-friendly pizza place with a really good, high-quality product.

When they opened their doors in late September in Torrey Hills, the restaurant was bombarded.

“People were highly anticipating us coming here ... and they all showed up on the first week,” Kimia said.

They admit they weren’t quite prepared for the rush, but now they feel they have settled in, worked out all the kinks and are ready to serve up hand-tossed pizza goodness.

Kimia and Matt Othick are Solana Beach residents and parents of 5-year-old twins at Solana Vista School. The Othicks opened their Carlsbad location in October 2011 despite having no restaurant background — Kimia had worked in the beauty industry and Matt had played professional basketball.

But what they did have was master pizza chef Charlie Meola’s recipes for killer sauce and artisan, whole-wheat dough (hence the name Crust) and the desire to take pizza to another level.

“Matt really had a passion,” Kimia said.

He wanted to do an upscale pizzeria that was more than just pizza, where friends could come and bring their kids and enjoy a nice experience and great food — kids could munch on a slice of pepperoni while parents could enjoy a glass of wine and an Ahi poke salad.

“It’s rewarding to see a business come together and be a success, and doing it together is special,” Matt said.

“It’s been fun working together,” Kimia said.

The restaurant’s space has been tweaked from the previous tenant, Taste of Italy. Where the old restaurant was walled off down the middle, the Othicks have opened up the space. A large window opens into the busy kitchen and the outdoor patio was redone with sliding doors to give more of an indoor/outdoor feeling.

Matt’s stepmom did the interior, adding fun features like the giant “In Crust We Trust” sign on the wall, a big whisk light fixture, mounted wooden pizza paddles and even a pizza delivery bike suspended from one part of the ceiling.

Crust’s signature pizzas are all named after women, such as the Karla, the Savanna, the Emily. The Arden stars thin-sliced filet mignon and gorgonzola and mozzarella cheeses, and the Tasia features chevre goat cheese, kalamata olices, grilled eggplant, zucchini and feta.

“The dough is very good. The crust, the toppings … We have New Yorkers come in and say, ‘You don’t find this type of pizza around here often,’” Matt said.

Their most popular pie is the Kelly, which features Wisconsin mozzarella, pepperoni, Scimeca’s famous Italian sausage, portobello mushrooms and sweet red onion.

They also offer build-your-own pizzas and pizzas with gluten-free crusts. A lunch special pairs a jumbo slice and drink for only $4.50.

The rest of the menu is “modern Italian”: penne pasta and ravioli, and “Big Sexy” mac and cheese: orecchiette pasta in a smoked gouda, cheddar and mozzarella sauce with bacon and sausage. Crust also has a variety of salads as well as sandwiches and appetizers like white bean hummus and barbecue shrimp.

While they serve just wine and beer at the bar now, the Othicks hope to get their full liquor license and give the community a bar. Happy hours are held all day Mondays, and Thursdays are half-off bottles. Kimia hopes to bring live music and wine dinners to the restaurant as well.

Community involvement is huge for the Othicks and they are looking forward to becoming a part of Torrey Hills and Carmel Valley, bringing in their Solana Beach families as well.

All of their hostesses and bussers are teens from the local high schools.

“That’s been really fun for us,” Kimia said. “For a lot of them, it’s their first jobs and we get letters when they go off to college, which really means a lot to us.”

“We really wanted to expand because of stuff like that. It’s what makes it all worth it,” Matt said. “We get to know the families, and they all support us, and it makes a big difference in the culture. It becomes a family atmosphere and a really fun place to work.”

Already Crust has become a go-to spot for sports teams and local businesses for group parties. In the past few weeks, they’ve hosted 12 sports team parties and have several nights booked with holiday parties.

They have also partnered with the Carmel Valley 5K and the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation and would love to build relationships with the three Carmel Valley high schools and the middle schools.

“We want to build a place where the community loves to come, and everyone knows their name,” Kimia said.

“In Carlsbad, we built tons of relationships on a personal level, and we want to do the same thing here,” Matt said.

Crust is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is at 4653 Carmel Mountain Road. For carry out or information, call 858-350-3400.