Sidebars: Detour from courthouse for impressive pizza and soda combo

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SidebarsEditor’s Note: Sidebars reviews and rates eateries lawyers may enjoy visiting when working at courthouses throughout Indiana. Fred offers this issue’s review.

Rare is the restaurant that impresses with every dish. I mean every aspect of every dish, including, believe it or not, the fountain soda drinks. At least on one glorious September evening with my family, Coalition Pizza was that restaurant.

Coalition is not near any courthouse, but I suppose we can justify its qualification for this column by saying it is on the way to some courthouse somewhere. It is located just off U.S. 31, near 116th and Illinois streets in Carmel. It is oddly nestled between a Jimmy John’s franchise, a dry cleaner, and a CVS pharmacy and is situated just across from the newly constructed Mormon Temple. I do not know if the Mormons have dietary restrictions besides alcohol and caffeine, but I hope for their sake those restrictions don’t stretch much beyond that, given the proximity to Coalition.

Coalition capitalizes on the hot fire, artisan pizza concept like Pizzology or Napolese. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I give the nod to Coalition over those two local, and in the case of Napolese soon to be national, gems. The reason is because of what I said above: Coalition delivers on every aspect of every meal. Upon entering the restaurant, menus are hanging along a wall for your review prior to ordering. While a sit-down establishment, you order at a counter and the food is brought to you, completely in line with today’s fast-casual restaurant trend. This process adds to the overall value of Coalition as you don’t feel compelled to add 20 percent gratuity to your dining ticket, but you are certainly welcome to tip the food runners.

Let’s cut to the chase. Everything we ordered was spot on. My daughter, Angelica, ordered the house-made meatballs from the small plates menu as her main entrée. The meatballs were imperfectly shaped, legitimizing the homemade claim, and they were drenched in a lively marinara sauce. They were tender and flavorful. A good meatball should contain a blend of meats, such as beef, pork and/or veal. I detected a hint of nutmeg in these, something my native Italian grandmother used in her meatballs, adding to their authenticity. Wise choice, Angelica.

My wife, Amy, ordered the Green Party salad. This contains grilled salmon, lacinato kale, roasted sweet potato and MontAmore cheese, all wonderfully complemented by homemade lemon garlic dressing. This salad earns very high marks. The kale (yes kale!) was not at all bitter. It was good independent of the dressing. The star of this salad, though, is undoubtedly the dressing. Order it on the side and dip your pizza crust in it.

We ordered three pizzas. I ordered The Sausage Treaty, comprising boldly flavored Italian sausage and spicy Calebrese peppers. My son, Anthony, ordered The Teamster, made up of those tasty meatballs but diced, and intertwined with mild giardinera. My oldest daughter, Aurelia, opted for The Triumph, which is basically a stellar margherita pizza. Each pizza was delicious in its own respect from crust to toppings. My only criticism is the giardinera was a bit overbearing on The Teamster.

Another reason to come to Coalition is the Puck’s soda. Made with pure cane sugar and small batch syrup, it punctuates an already quality dining experience. If you do not like pizza, stop by just for the soda. Put it this way, I ordered a Fat Tire beer and regretted it, wishing I would have ordered a soda instead. What does that tell you?

Something Amy said at the end of the meal pretty much described our feelings about this place. She said: “Do we have to leave?” Yes, we had to leave, but we will also be back, my guess is repeatedly.•

Coalition Pizza, 365 W. 116th St., Carmel, IN 46032.317-817-0800.

Fred Vaiana and Jennifer Lukemeyer practice at Voyles Zahn & Paul in Indianapolis, focusing on criminal defense. Both enjoy a good meal with colleagues and friends. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors.

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