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2012 - Spring Issue
¡Comidas Sabrosas!
Restaurant Opening
Article: Jessica Muncrief
Photos: Bill Faulkner
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Restaurateur Mark Heins has a simple and effective idea for his latest venture: keep the concept approachable and let the food speak for itself. Newly opened on El Paso's Westside this spring, Crust offers an authentic Italian dining experience, seemingly straight from southern Italy. "Crust is not chef-driven, nor is it owner-driven," says Mark, "It is not tied to any one person or name. It is a place where a group of very talented, passionate, 'foodies' come together everyday to create a dining experience that speaks to the heart of what great food and service should be. A place where guests feel comfortable, socialize, eat good food and enjoy great wine and drinks."


5860 N Mesa St.
El Paso, TX 79912
An appreciation of the simple and satisfying basics—high quality ingredients on every plate, bread, wine, cheese, pasta, pizza, fresh wild-caught seafood and organic and all natural meats—is the core of this restaurant. The fare and ambience can best be described as classic Italian Neopolitana. Natural, organic and sustainably farmed ingredients are used in every freshly prepared dish, but what truly sets Crust apart is an ability to maintain a balance between simplicity and uniqueness. The ingredients are basic staples carefully, and sometimes unexpectedly, paired to create tantalizing flavor combinations. The overall atmosphere reflects what we envy in the Italian culture in that it is high-energy, while still remaining relaxed and casual. "Italian has always been a favorite lifestyle experience of mine," notes Mark, "and authenticity is a key element at Crust."

This authenticity is achieved in part through the offering of dishes served piatti piccoli, or by the serving. This style of eating, popular in the Mediterranean region, allows diners to try small portions of many dishes. At Crust, diners can savor single serving portions of enticing combinations such as prosciutto and apples; fried eggplant and veal cheeks; and fresh mussels in bagna cauda, a creamy sauce flavored with garlic and anchovies. Guests can also build their own platters of cured meats and artisanal cheeses, selecting from delectable options like proscuitto di Parma, jamon Serrano, salami secchi, mortadella, salami picante, taleggio, smoked mozzarella and gorgonzola dolce.

Crust uses an abundance of fresh, wholesome ingredients to create new twists on the traditional pizzas and pastas. The pizzas, baked to just-crispy perfection, range from the classic margherita, made only with tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil, to fresh spinach and pancetta with tomatoes, pickled chiles and goat cheese. The veal ragu pizza with ricotta salata, and the asparagus with lardo pizza are two of the other intriguing creations. Likewise, the pasta selection ranges from spaghetti and meatballs to pork sugo e radiatore to truffled risotto. In addition, Crust offers a whole wheat pasta and gluten-free pizza.

Rounding out this intriguing menu are items from the padella and griglia. Padella, or pan, dishes include veal sweetbreads served with asparagus, lemon peel, and truffles; braised duck leg and thigh with olives, orange, and sweet vermouth; and fresh mussels and pancetta. From the griglia, or grill, try the lamb porterhouse with salsa verde; pork chops with apples, peanuts and jalapenos; or quail served with polenta, wild mushrooms and marsala.

Naturally, the appreciation of Italian culture is not complete without some vino and perhaps a little something dolce. True to the Crust style, the full bar features keg wine with eight varietals available on tap. House-made cannoli and several flavors of extraordinary gelato are on the menu along with Crust's signature dessert boccone dolce, a delicate layering of strawberries, chocolate, meringue, and Chantilly cream.

From concept to food, Crust is refreshingly simple, with plenty of flavor to keep it interesting. And, with the menu reflecting ingredients that are in season, we can surely expect a continuous array of exciting, creative and delicious dishes on the Crust menu. Mark Heins promises that "no matter, what you order it will be freshly and beautifully prepared." ///
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