New Carina Pizzeria rises in Preston Center Dallas with captivating crusts
There's an incredible new pizzeria coming to Dallas with a fresh take on pizza. Called Carina Pizzeria, it'll open in Preston Center at 6005 Berkshire Ln., across from the Target, taking a small storefront that was once home to Be Raw, Dallas' only raw food restaurant which closed in 2019.
Carina is from Eugene Plyako, an accomplished home baker who runs a popular cottage bakery called Humble Bread where his stunning sourdough breads, holiday loaves, and ethnic pastries have earned him notice in foodie circles.
Pizza is his next frontier. He's taking his inspiration from the street foods of southern Italy, focusing on Roman-style pizzas with slightly charred thin crusts, made from naturally leavened dough using Montana semolina flour, Sicilian sea salt, and California olive oil.
"Carina is influenced by the cuisines in the Southern Italian regions of Puglia and some part of Sicily, which I find more bold and flavorful," Plyako says. "I also like that they have closer ties with Mediterranea and are influenced by Middle Eastern cuisine which both resonate for me."
His pizza toppings will be next-level creative and frequently centered on vegetables in upscale combinations. The trademark Carina pizza, for example, will be a white pizza with aged mozzarella, shaved pear, caramelized onion, hot honey, and pistachios. Wow.
He's currently hiring staff and making finishing touches on the space, with a goal to open in early October.
Plyako came to the U.S. in the early '90s as a refugee from the Ukraine, and previously worked in the tech industry.
"We had very limited seasonal items in the Soviet Union, but my mom was an avid cook," he says. "By age 7, I would be helping her with preserving vegetables for the winter - that's how I learned to like vegetables."
In the U.S., he began cooking for large family gatherings, and discovered he loved it. This led to baking sourdough bread, and just as the pandemic broke, he'd begun to sell bread from home. He's endlessly creative, making everything from English muffins to Swedish cardamom walnut buns to Turkish-style braided sourdough bagels, dipped into grape molasses and coated in sesame seeds.
He dabbled briefly with Detroit-style pizza with its thick, heavy crusts, then became fascinated with Roman-style thin-crust pizza, which is rare in Dallas and also fortuitously caters to Dallas' preference for a crisp crust.
Roman-style pizza has a thin crust that is more delicate, with more personality than a "cracker" crust. It's often said to melt in your mouth. Like its Neapolitan-style cousin, the toppings are applied with restraint. It's more of a culinary experience, and the opposite of a greasy, heavy pie loaded down with the likes of canned olives.
Carina Pizzeria's opening menu will feature 10-inch personal size pizzas, priced from $7 for a basic marinara with tomato, garlic, basil, and optional Parmesan, up to $12 for the Albina, a white pizza with aged mozzarella, artichoke hearts, smoked Gouda, caramelized onion, and arugula.
One other major highlight on the menu will be his amazing fries made with chickpeas, served with a vegan aioli: thick rectangles made with chickpea flour, crisp and charred on the outside, moist inside.
In his catalog of breads, Plyako also mastered a unique roll from Puglia, Italy called the puccia, a round similar to a pita, with an opening inside that's ready to be filled with cold cuts, cheeses, veggies, and more.
"I will have puccia and folded dough sandwiches for the lunch crowd, who may find a sandwich a more convenient option than pizza," he says.
"Once I figured out that bread, I could envision the sandwiches I would do, and the rest just fell into place," he says.