McDonald, who was born and raised in Destin, recently returned to the Emerald Coast after a year honing his culinary skills with some of the best in the New York culinary scene, including a six-month stint as sous chef at Reynard at the Wythe Hotel.
Bud & Alley’s owner Dave Rauschkolb said collaborating with McDonald is a natural.
“We are both low-key local surfers passionate about serving up fresh food and creating a great dining experience. I’m thrilled that we are able to work together and look forward to all the ways Chef Phil will raise the ‘bar’ with us.”
Before opening a private, personal chef and catering service in 2006, McDonald worked in many of the area’s finest restaurants including Cuvee Beach, Criolla’s, Fish out of Water and Onano. Beyond New York, he has also worked in the kitchens of the culinary-mecca cities of New Orleans, San Francisco and Portland.
Chef Phil says he draws his menu inspirations from the Gulf of Mexico, local farms, his customers’ tastes and the five senses.
“Pizza is my passion and I am very excited at the opportunity to be a part of the Bud & Alley’s family. Dave has been a true visionary in the restaurant scene here in Seaside, and The Pizza Bar has been serious about making pizza the right way from day one. Together with the help of Chef Derek Langford and our awesome staff, I’m looking forward to elevating everything from the food and cocktails to the dining experience,” McDonald said.
Everyday Chef Phil and his crew make fresh batches of pizza dough, mozzarella cheese and pasta by hand. Each 11-inch Neapolitana-style pizza pie is made to order and topped with fresh local produce, along with imported meats and cheeses for an authentic taste. Then, they are hand-pressed and baked in a wood-fired brick oven stoked with southern oak. With temperatures nearing 750 degrees, the thin crust-style pizzas are cooked and served in minutes.
The new menu features more than a dozen different red and white pizzas, including popular classics such as the Margherita with fresh basil, mozzarella and roasted fennel sausage, alongside some more creative offerings such as the delicious White Clam Pie with fresh-shucked clams from Alligator Point, and the Farmer’s Market pizza, which showcases fresh, seasonal vegetables sourced from local farms and fields. Artisan cheeses, fresh green salads, antipasto dishes, bruschetta, homemade soups, seasonal vegetables, and hearty pastas round out the menu.
A new bar and wine list features domestic and imported beer and red, white and sparkling wines by the bottle and by the glass. At the Pizza Bar, wine is enjoyed the old Italian way — in a short glass.
The restaurant, which opened in 2008, was inspired by a trip Rauschkolb and his wife took to Italy, where they discovered a wonderful cafe on the island of Ischia off the coast of Naples overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Guests of the Pizza Bar in Seaside can experience these authentic flavors family-style in the courtyard, fire-side at the bar and on the veranda overlooking our own Mediterranean, the Gulf of Mexico.
“Dave will tell you The Pizza Bar was inspired by the cucina’s of Naples, Italy,” McDonald said. “Our menu showcases dishes with a touch of rusticity. We want the food speak, so we’re all about keeping it simple, seasonal and delicious.”