What do you think of when you hear the word “pi”? Math majors, engineers and pre-meds may begin to quickly rattle off the digits 3.14159—okay, that’s as far as I remember. Meanwhile, foodies like me will inevitably think of lemon meringue or chocolate silk, or maybe fresh blueberries and pastry crusts. Yet, now when you hear someone say “pi,” be prepared to think outside the box—unless you’re thinking about a box of pizza.
When I told my suitemates that I’d never eaten Chicago-style pizza before, they flipped out. “You’ve never had Chicago-style pizza before?! Did you grow up in a remote cave?” No, I just grew up in Ohio. Jeez. The next question I asked, of course, was where I could find Chicago-style pizza in St. Louis. “We’ll go to Pi!” they exclaimed, and that was the beginning of my love affair with the new pizza place located on the Loop.
With its specialty Chicago-style pizza and eco-chic atmosphere, Pi is not your typical St. Louis pizzeria. Waiters serve deep-dish cornmeal crust pizza, sporting shirts that say “Green is the new black.” Pizza boxes have the recycling symbol on them, and organic drinks are offered.
When we arrived at Pi on a Saturday night around 7 p.m., it was hopping. The tables on the patio were full of patrons sharing large pans of pizza. To our dismay, the host told us that there would be a 30 to 45-minute wait for a table. While we waited, I took in the atmosphere, noting the busy bar area, the hardwood floors and the white walls with black polka dots.
We were finally seated in a dining area away from the bar. It was still quite noisy, which I suppose was a testament to Pi’s popularity. Our table was hardwood with no cloth, adding to the restaurant’s casual feel. I sat on a wooden chair while my friends sat on a green wooden bench. The walls were painted a buttery yellow, and our napkins were checkered red and white. While this may seem like a strange hodgepodge of colors and designs, it really worked well, creating a hip, happy and vibrant atmosphere. Our waiter arrived quickly and took our drink orders. I decided to try the special organic iced tea. This unsweetened iced tea had a nice hint of mango flavor, but it was too bitter for me and no sugar was provided. Fortunately when I told the waiter I needed sugar, he rushed to get it for me.
Once our waiter explained that the pi’tites are an appetizer, we decided that we had to have them. The six pi’tites arrived on a long white plate. These delicious round morsels were made of fontina cheese blended with prosciutto and rolled in bread crumbs. Once I cut into them, the soft, creamy cheese spilled out. Dipped in a red marinara sauce, the pi’tites had a slightly smoky flavor with a hint of rosemary. What really made this appetizer stand out was the mix of textures between the crunchy bread crumb outer layer and the creamy cheese inside. Need another reason to order the pi’tites? The waiter assured us that they’re baked not fried, so they not only taste a lot better than Bear’s Den mozzarella sticks, they’re actually better for you too.
After we had finished our pi’tites, the pizzas arrived. At Pi, you have several different options in your pizza selection. They offer eight different specialty pizzas—four deep-dish style and four thin-crust style. You can order either a large or small size. You also have the option of creating your own pizza.
We decided to try the “western addition,” “south side classico” and the “Lincoln Park.” My personal favorite was the western addition. This pizza consisted of mozzarella, ricotta and feta cheese blended with spinach, mushrooms, onions and garlic. All of the ingredients tasted extra fresh. In case you’re not familiar with Chicago-style pizza, let me explain that the cheese was on the bottom and the sauce was on the top. The deep red sauce consisted of chunks of tomato and was neither too sweet nor too sour. The pizza was packed with spinach, and the ricotta cheese offered a creamy texture, complementing the unique, gritty yet satisfying texture of the cornmeal crust. The garlic flavor was recognizable yet subtle.
The south side classico pizza was also a deep-dish specialty, which consisted of mozzarella, sausage, mushrooms, green bell peppers, onions and the same fresh tomato sauce. This one was not quite as exciting as the western addition in my opinion, but it was still a very good, savory pizza. The thin-crust “Lincoln Park” had a completely different feel than the other two pizzas. It was very light with a crunchy crust and no sauce at all. It was topped with mozzarella, garlic olive oil, zucchini, fresh tomato slices, feta and fresh basil. The “Lincoln Park” was a nice complement to our heavier deep-dish pizzas and would be a wonderful choice on a hot day.
After all that pizza you’d think that we’d be ready to go home, but we couldn’t leave Pi without trying dessert. Guess what it was? That’s right—the only dessert Pi offers is pie. Made with the same cornmeal crust, they offer an apple pie as well as a seasonal pie. We decided to try the current seasonal pie, a peach pie. It was topped with a lattice crust and accompanied by creamy cinnamon ice cream. My suitemate and I are still debating whether the ice cream was better than the pie; it’s a close call.
All in all, we had a great night at Pi. I can safely say that the pizza was delicious. In fact, I had some of the leftovers for breakfast this morning. Is that weird? Maybe, but the pizza was just that good! So next time someone asks you about Pi, don’t start reciting digits. Instead, wisely reply, “Ah, yes it’s located on the Loop. Let’s go this weekend. I hear they’re also open for lunch.”