OGUNQUIT, ME – Pizza and beer. A classic combination that’s right up there with Peanut Butter and Jelly, Batman and Robin and Mary Kate and Ashley.
And at Cornerstone Pizzeria in Ogunquit, Maine they bring you the best of both worlds.
“We wanted to bring pizza up a level, but at the same time it’s still pizza. It’s still beer,” said owner Michael Cavaretta. “It’s not a chichi French cuisine. It’s pizza. We wanted people to enjoy it, but we also wanted to push it to its full potential.”
So the Cornerstone crew searched every corner of the country for the best craft brews, and they experimented with all kinds of tasty toppings for their hand-tossed pizzas – all of it served in a chic industrial eatery with a popular outdoor patio.
“I think that pairing beer and food is sort of a new concept to people, but I think that it’s becoming more and more prevalent.”
So, you can sip your stout while sinking your teeth into some serious slices cooked in the wood stone oven that serves as the centerpiece of Executive Chef Trip Rouillier’s open kitchen. The magnificent house of heat cooks every last dish on the menu, which goes well beyond pie.
“The oven’s the heart of this restaurant,” said the chef. “It’s really special because of how versatile it is and how I’m able to use it to prepare a lot of our stuff, because everything we do does come out of this oven.”
The key to the Cornerstone menu is that they never put their chefs in a corner when they try to get creative.
“We try and do strange combination that you wouldn’t even think of ordering, but then you go ahead and order them and they just wow you,” said Cavaretta.
So there’s a breakfast inspired pie topped with bacon and eggs, and one garnished with fresh shrimp, scallions, Gouda and lime.
Cornerstone’s Cajun Rubbed BBQ Pork pizza is topped slow-roasted pork and red cabbage slaw. Sure, it might seem a little strange, but Cavaretta swears by it.
“We had a lot of people that were hesitant to order the red cabbage on it. The coleslaw is actually what ties the whole thing together. You don’t realize that smokiness of red cabbage, but it actually makes the flavor of the Cajun pop even more. It’s an explosion of flavor; it’s really good.”
And while most Margherita pizzas are really good, Cornerstone’s is really great because it’s made with balsamic roasted tomatoes.
“They have a little bit of a zing to them,” described Cavaretta. “We find that it just gives the pizza a little bit of extra flavor that just brings it a whole new level.”
While these guys are all about pairing pizza with beer, they have been known to make an exception.
“We serve all of these amazing beers and from all over the world. And what goes better with beer than pizza? There’s only one thing: and it’s pretzels.”
So, they roll out and fresh-bake every pretzel every day, and serve them traditionally with mustard, topped with cheddar or sprinkled with sugar alongside maple syrup.
Since Cornerstone sits in the lobster capital of the world, a lobster pizza was a must. But rather than using straight up lobster, their pie is topped with a lemony lobster salad.
“We actually put cold lobster salad on our pizza and almost treat it like it’s a lobster roll,” Cavaretta said. “The difference in temperature between the hot pizza and the cold lobster actually makes it all come together. It actually feels like a hot lobster roll when you’re eating it.”
Lobster is also featured in the baked mac and cheese along with some salty spec.
“I just love lobster mac and cheese. I just wanted to do one that just kicks it up a little notch. It’s the best lobster dish, in in my opinion,” Cavaretta said.
The Sausage Stuffed Cherry Peppers are cheesy too, but the housemade sausage certainly gives this dish some kick. “When you bite into one of these things, the pickledness of the pepper, it’s a little spicy. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever tried,” he described.
While mussels are usually sautéed, because of the kitchen’s limited space, theirs are baked in that wood stone oven, which actually makes them even better.
“If you haven’t had a baked mussel, they really are amazing. They bake from the top and they cook from the bottom as well in that oven, on the stone. So it mixes all those flavors together really well.”
Whether it’s slow roasting their tomatoes or hand stretching their dough, the staff at Cornerstone takes the time to make sure each element is pristine.
“Our goal and the thing that I love about it is that we actually try and bring each ingredient to a new level and actually give it a little bit more flavor, so that we you eat it, it’s the very best that it could be.”
You can find Cornerstone at 228 Main Street in Ogunquit, or online at cornerstoneogt.com.
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