The Indulge Italian Eatery restaurant puts a new spin on classic Italian traditions
The ancient einkorn wheat grain has been planted and eaten by humans for more than 12,000 years, but it’s only recently been on the food industry’s radar, including the new Indulge Italian Eatery here in Carolina Forest, one of only a handful of restaurants on the East Coast serving it on their menu.
What’s the secret power of einkorn? Believed by archeologists to be the grain baked into the first loaves of bread in the Neolithic Age, einkorn has not been genetically modified or changed by humans, unlike most other grains. This means it has the same amount of gluten as modern farmed wheat, but its proteins are smaller and easier to digest, actually scoring a zero on the Gluten Index and performing gentler on digestion.
That’s the science behind the fresh, handcrafted einkorn pasta served at Indulge, open since October 2022. It was also a thing of beauty for my husband, who suffers from extreme gluten sensitivity and never suffered from any side effects from his pasta dish after our visit to Indulge.
The restaurant’s interior itself is also a beauty. It’s sexy, kissed with midcentury modern accents in the lighting, wall accents that include black-and-white photos shot by one of Indulge’s very own, and high-back, hunter green-upholstered booths mingled with dark wood tables and leather chairs. The ambiance oozes sophistication, but the vibes are grounded in comfy-casual fine dining. (Patio seating is also available for the more al fresco-friendly months.)
The menu that Indulge presents each evening for dinner is a solid blend of authentic Italian classics and the chef’s modern take on Italian cuisine in his signature dish section.
But, to start things off, my husband and I ordered cocktails: he, an old fashioned finished with a dehydrated orange slice garnish, and me, a glass of cab. Both drinks were deliciously smooth.
In between dipping warm bread into a plated puddle of garlic oil, I ordered the Italian Shrimp Cocktail appetizer: a handful of large poached, chilled shrimp wrapped with prosciutto and surrounded by a pesto dipping sauce. It was such a simple, refreshing take on the traditional Shrimp Cocktail dunked in cocktail sauce – instead letting the protein shine. Other close contenders we almost ordered (and may do on our next visit) were the Eggplant Rollatini (fresh eggplant rolled with Parmesan and ricotta and topped with herb breadcrumbs) and the Caprese, featuring their fresh, house-made mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes drizzled with balsamic reduction, basil pesto, and olive oil.
As a prelude to the main course, after we cleaned up our tasty Caesar salads, our five-star server, Heather, offered us a “palate-cleansing” shot of Indulge’s homemade limoncello on the house. That was a dangerously delicious shot that packed a punch of both sweet and sour, served chilled in the glass and warm going down.
It was difficult to narrow down the nearly dozen options of classic pasta entrees, but my entrée of choice was the Chicken Piccata, served with fettucine pasta in a caper lemon sauce. The scratch-made einkorn fettucine noodles were melt-in-your-mouth amazing and the flavors were another level of refined.
My husband chose the fresh catch of the week, which was a tripletail served atop a blend of fresh succotash, homemade tomato sauce, pickled watermelon radish, and einkorn rigatoni. To say he was impressed was just a start. He couldn’t get enough of the creative layers and expert preparation it took to plate this result. On top of that, it was the best gluten-free or low-gluten pasta he’s had – and he didn’t suffer from any digestive side effects.
More Chef’s Signature Dishes on the menu that look tempting include the Tuscan Chicken served with campanelle in a creamy confit tomato, spinach cheese sauce, the Short Rib Puttanesca (braised beef short rib served over fettucine and topped with a tomato caper ragu), and Veal Osso Bucco, braised veal shank over rigatoni and tossed in a demi-glace with vegetables and a persillade.
The Indulge bar area was popular on the night of our visit, with the bartender shaking things up for happy hour Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. But there’s no bad seat in the house here at Indulge. I plan to return with friends or family visiting from out of town to prove that Myrtle Beach does indeed have its fair share of foodie-approved restaurants.
Indulge Italian Eatery
4999 Carolina Forest Blvd., Myrtle Beach
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 4-9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 4-10 p.m.