Among the remarkable features of Cornerstone Artisanal Pizza and Craft Beer in Ogunquit is how spacious it is. A huge outdoor deck easily seats 50 and is the hallmark of the restaurant as it juts out from the front entrance at the corner and borders the sidewalk.
The town of Ogunquit is sleepy during the winter months, but by Memorial Day, visitors flock to this small beach town for its quaint, New England charm and quality bistros, bars, ice cream shops and boutiques. In its own way, the town is like a small pocket of Portland or Portsmouth, and Cornerstone, with its large presence and remarkable beer list, seems to be at the center of intrigue.
Inside, Cornerstone is roomy but strikes the right balance with comfortable. The lighting is dim, but not too dim, the decor is hip, but not too hip, and as the restaurant’s name makes clear, craft beer is a priority.
Tap handles that have been used in the past stick up for display to the left of the bar, and dead center of everything are 16 taps, ranging from Mayflower Porter (or Golden Ale or Summer Rye) to Stella Artois, Foundation Blaze and Stone Russian Imperial Stout. Percentage of alcohol by volume also ranges anywhere from 3.7 to 17 percent (Schmaltz He’Brew Jewbilation). Not to mention the large format beers ($20-$35, meant for sharing) or the list of more than 20 bottles and cans that’s so good it rivals the beers available on tap.
House-infused concoctions, like the elderflower liqueur, hide inside some of the cocktails or are offered as drinks on their own. The wine is a nicely curated list by the general manager who prides himself on finding great wine at reasonable prices. The house red and white wines are both served on tap.
What’s unique about Cornerstone’s bar scene is that the bar (specifically on the right side) looks directly over the kitchen, where the stainless steel wood-burning stove fills with bubbling rectangular pizzas, Buffalo wings, mac n’ cheese – the list goes on. That oven is used for nearly everything on the menu.
Cornerstone is bracing for what they say is going to be a very busy peak season. Most nights, especially Friday and Saturday, there can be up to a two-hour wait, but people wait anyway. The food is that good. On a recent weeknight, Cornerstone was full at the bar and about a dozen or so tables were seated.
Check their online calendar for upcoming patio performances, such as Blake Hawley and Dominic Sbrega at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
For the town of Ogunquit and its summer visitors, Cornerstone offers superb food and a thoughtful selection of craft beer from Maine and around the world.
WHERE: 228 Main St., Ogunquit
HOURS: Spring hours: noon to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; noon to 11 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday
SPECIALS: No drink specials during peak season (May-September). Happy hour during off-season November-April.
AMENITIES: Outdoor seating with umbrellas, indoor seating that can be transformed into outdoor seating, spacious bar area, clean and stylish bathrooms, bar doubles as a “chef’s table” if you sit over to the right.
PARKING: Street parking.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes.
BOTTOM LINE: Cornerstone Artisanal Pizza and Craft Beer is swamped in the summer. On weekends especially, expect a wait, but know the wait will be worth it. The draft list is impressive and rivals many of Portland’s great beer halls, the cocktail list is made with care and precision, and the wine list is comprised of some of the general manager’s favorites. For craft beer cravers or for those with a deep affinity for artisanal pizza made in a wood-fired oven, Cornerstone knocks both out of the park.