8617 Allisonville Rd Indianapolis, IN 46250
The Ale Emporium is a true gem in the Castleton area. Located in a nondescript strip mall on the corner of Allisonville Road and 86th Street (north of the Castleton Mall and adjacent shops), this amazing pub serves delicious variations of the drab bar food this city is inundated with. The original small one room smoky pub had expanded a number of years ago into two more and much larger spaces next door, with brick and wood paneling decor, a stage for live concerts, and more TVs than one could possibly look at to cover a large range of sports and other programming. There is even a lovely pink elephant, which is in actuality a rare children’s coin operated ride from the 1950s.
Each room has combinations of high and low top tables, and the servers have been generally attentive on my visits there despite the sometimes chaotic scene on busy nights. Gone is the heavy scent of smoke, but fortunately the stars of the menu has remained intact. The reason I travel there is simply the best deep dish pizza in town. I have eaten pizza from Chicago transplants Giordano’s, Nancy’s, and Pizzeria Uno (when it was open near Keystone). I have also raved about Apezza in Fishers, which is quite good, and enjoy Union Jack’s variation in Broad Ripple. However, the pie at Ale Emporium is the top of the top in almost every way. Ordered as their ‘pan’ pizza, the thick crust is delicious on its own, as is the wonderful sauce that is plentiful in every bite (I hate when restaurants skimp on the pizza sauce, some reviewers report the sauce is light but I have not found this to be the case). The mountain of chewy, tangy cheese that covers each square cut piece is impressive on its one, and made even better when the pizza is ordered with extra cheese to boot. The sausage is just right, as is the pepperoni. Are the other numerous ingredients offered any good? I don’t know, as pepperoni and sausage are all I ever order on my pizzas there. I’m sure they are but frankly I don’t care, as those two meats and extra cheese are enough for me. A large pizza serves myself and my accompaniment, and then provides enough left overs for us to enjoy the next day, or frozen for a later meal. It is the perfect game day food, or just a gut busting Saturday night where bed immediately beckons upon returning home.
Speaking of game day food, Ale Emporium also is well known for their chicken wings, particularly their ‘Hermanaki’ wings. The wings are a bit expensive, but you are served a large amount, and they are quite meaty. The barbecue-teriyaki sort of mix that creates the unique Hermanaki flavor is quite good, and the wings benefit from an extra grilling step before serving. They are some of my favorite wings in the city.
Ale Emporium also features the requisite burgers, sandwiches, and wraps, as well as healthy salads. I cannot attest to their taste, but can assume the rest of the menu is just as delicious.
One of the best parts of this restaurant is that they cater to beer aficionados such as myself. The vast selection of drafts and bottles covers a wide range of styles, and includes some dynamite Belgian dark ales for which I am known to enjoy. They even feature a large selection of canned beers, although I am no fan of canned beers in a restaurant.
Unfortunately, Ale Emporium only allows patrons aged 21 and up, so this is not a place to bring the family to watch the big game or enjoy the excellent pizza. A separate dining room allowing younger guests would be ideal, but not likely to happen. Outdoor seating is featured in warmer weather, but the ambiance inside combined with the westward facing patio and the blinding setting sun makes this a less desirable place to enjoy the Ale Emporium’s offerings.
Overall, the bustling happy hour, game day action, significant beer selection, and delicious take on the usual American pub fare makes the Ale Emporium a nice place for adults to go and enjoy themselves. I recommend getting the pizza for take out so younger family members can enjoy this great take on deep dish style pizza.