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Hot Tomato delivers goodness to the discriminating pizza and Italian food crowd
For the better part of two decades the trendy, Asian/fusion restaurant SOHO in Myrtle Beach catered to a hip late-night clientele and a mix of dedicated locals and tourists from nearby Ocean Boulevard hotels. When SOHO’s owners moved across the street, it left the vacated space ready for a reinvention. In the spring of 2016 Hot Tomato opened, and the new restaurant continues to make converts among the discriminating pizza and Italian food crowd.
Open every day at 11:30 a.m. for lunch, dinner, delivery and late nights (as the crowd dictates), Hot Tomato serves a wide variety of specialty and build-your-own pizzas, plus subs, sandwiches, flatbreads, pasta, traditional Italian mainstays and seafood. The large menu also features salads, soups and desserts along with an impressive wine, beer and spirits list.
In nice weather the outside patio will seat a good-sized crowd. Inside, the long, traditional bar, two smaller marble bars with window views and plenty of two tops and four tops seat many more. Though not overstuffed with tables, this is a wide-open, family-style restaurant that can get boisterous when busy. The bar and lounge area are warm and inviting and designed with a chic, urban flare, that caters to young adult crowds in the same way that SOHO managed so well.
Happy hour from 4–7 p.m. draws a crowd for the reduced prices on liquors, wine and beer, plus large portions from a $4–$6 special food menu. I had the Meatball Parmigiana ($5). Three huge, dense meatballs were served piping hot in a bowl with a tangy marinara sauce and plenty of cheese. Other than needing a little extra salt, they made for a hearty, satisfying meal. Adding a $3 rum & Coke and a tip, I left fully sated and happy for $11. Other HH options include a personal pizza, wings, fried calamari, mussels, baked penne and something called a “Long Italian Hot,” a plate of Italian peppers cut to make canoes filled with sausage and topped with a creamy cheese sauce and marinara before a pass under the broiler.
Hot Tomato is particularly proud of its rotating brick oven, where chefs hand-toss pizza dough and slide in creations such as the Full House, a pizza topped with sausage, beef, ham, pepperoni, onions, green peppers, black olives and mushrooms. Italian food lovers might enjoy the chicken or veal Marsala, eggplant or veal Parmigiana, chicken piccata and more. A 14-ounce ribeye and six seafood dishes (plus specials) round out a tempting and budget-friendly dinner menu. Including soup or salad, most entrees are between $14 and $22, with most in the $15–$20 range. Build-your-own pizzas run $7–$12 (plus toppings) and specialty pizzas are $12–$18.
Adding a casual, hip sophistication to the pizza and Italian cuisine experience, Hot Tomato should enjoy the same loyal following enjoyed by SOHO and the same longevity.
406 21st Ave. N., Myrtle Beach
Hours: Open daily at 11:30 a.m. Dine in and delivery.