Where Locals Go

Coal Vines

Review by Frank Geslani | Photos by Lorraine Haan-Stewart

I like happy surprises, and the pizza at Coal Vines is not one of them. I say that only because Coal Vines makes arguably the most reliable, upscale pizza in Southlake. The crustテ「把hewy, charred and crisp in all the right placesテ「琶s a master class in the New York school of dough-ology. So, itテ「冱 no surprise to see an elevated pie platter on every table in the cosmo-cool interior and even out on the warm patio.

Hereテ「冱 the real surprise: the rest of their menu is really good, too. And, Iテ「冦 not talking about that other テ「徘テ「 wordテ「廃asta. Is anyone really surprised to see Italian food served at a pizza joint? Itテ「冱 nice to find Coal Vines sprinkling in some Pacific Rim, Mediterranean and even Indian flavors.

Letテ「冱 get one thing out of the way first: the White Special pizza. Smooth ricotta, in lieu of marinara, gives this pie an unlikely balance of creamy richness and rustic lightness. Donテ「冲 let anyone tell you that you canテ「冲 pair a red wine with a white pizza. The White Special holds up surprisingly well to a complex Cabernet.

I rarely pass up the White Special, but this time of year makes me crave seafood. Seafood pizza? Not exactly my thing, but Iテ「冦 not dealing with a kitchen that plays at dubious combinations. Expect a few inspired pairings, instead, and not just with wine. Iテ「冦 talking food-on-food mash ups that will wake up your weary taste buds.

So many restaurants turn crab cakes into carb cakes, but Coal Vinesテ「 version isnテ「冲 weighed down by breading and they are still substantial. The natural sweetness of crab is countered by an arc of horseradish pickles and a microgreens salad. Sweet meets sour meets bitter. The combination works texturally, too. Smooth, tender crabmeat stands out against the juicy crunch of the pickles. Balanceテ「ツヲ when it comes to food itテ「冱 all about balance.

While weテ「决e on the seafood wagon, letテ「冱 talk salmon. The Spiced Salmon is gently seared to retain a rare, pink center. It is plated with two genius touches. Genius touch number one: an arugula and shaved fennel salad. Genius touch number two: fried capers. Capers and fish is almost a no-brainer, but the peppery notes from the arugula and the herbal qualities of fennel put this dish well over the top. Once more, perfect balance. Then againテ「ツヲ

Call me indulgent, but thereテ「冱 seared tuna on the menu. Dusted with cracked pepper, it juggles smoke and spice with the gentle meatiness of the still scarlet interior. Itテ「冱 paired with a heap of mixed greens that get a sweet-and-sour jolt from fruity vinaigrette.

On your next visit, resist your knee-jerk inclinations and take a longer look at Coal Vinesテ「 nonpizza offerings. Their inspired brunch menu, inventive specials board and even their dog-friendly weekend hours are the kind of eye-openers that keep jaded diners on their toes. If all of this unexpected variety makes you a bit jittery, mull it over in your own good time on the warm patio with a glass of Shiraz and, what the heck, a slice of pie.

Coal Vinesテつ |テつ 1251 East Southlake Boulevardテつテつ |テつ Southlake 76092
(817) 310 - 0850テつ |テつ www.coalvines.com