Lately I’ve been infatuated with pizzerias that have stories behind them. Last Tuesday, a coworker informed me that a parishioner who used to live in San Francisco loved his local pizzeria so much that when he recently moved back to St. Louis, he bought the recipe for the sauce and opened his own restaurant here. He called the restaurant “Pi,” as in the number.
As soon as she finished the story, I knew I had to eat that pizza. Immediately.
I think I just love food with a story. Food with a reason. I like that people talk about certain restaurants they’ve encountered in a mythical light, as if Jesus Himself (that’s Jesus’ last name) were the cook. I love when restaurants won’t franchise because they’re worried that their recipes won’t be treated with same respect. Well, I love it and I hate it, because when I read that the best burrito in the world is served at a tiny log cabin restaurant in the foothills of Tennessee, I wish that I could eat the same burrito closer to home.
Coincidentally, another high-end pizzeria recently opened in St. Louis. It’s called Katie’s Pizzaria Café, and the owner opened it after studying the making of pizza in Naples (where, according to Eat, Pray, Love, the best pizza in the world is served. It’s Papa Johns, of course, but they serve it with such grace). I just heard about that one today. Of course, I had to have it immediately.
Of the two, Pi’s pizza is better, but neither are legendary. Pi’s sauce is perfect, and it smells delicious. The crust, made out of hand-tossed cornmeal dough, is really good, and the cheese is delicious as well. The ingredients are clearly very fresh, and the menu indicates that they use local ingredients when they’re in season.
The only problem was that after about two pieces of pizza, the cheese sat like lead in my stomach. Cheese will do that to you, but something was off about this cheese. It didn’t seem all that greasy—maybe it needed to be more greasy so it would slip into my intestines. I’m not sure. Despite that misfire, I’d give Pi an 8 out of 10.
Katie’s Pizzaria Café is another story. The sauce is good, albeit a bit watery, and there’s very little cheese on the pizza. The pie itself was pretty small—too small for $15 when Tostino’s party pizzas are $10 for 10 at the grocery store across the street. The biggest problem was the crust. It was really thin and really hard, like a thick, stale cracker. It tasted good—it has that brick-oven taste—but it didn’t have enough give to it. It’s the kind of crust that cuts into your gums if you chew it the wrong way. Although the pizzas at Katie’s were pretty interesting—she eschews “American” pizzas for their true Italian counterparts, including potato pizza—I don’t think I’d go back.
Those of you in St. Louis might wonder how these pizzas stack up to the local competition. I’m probably forgetting someplace good, and I don’t know pizza on the Hill, but here’s where they’d fit in with the competition:
Katie’s Pizzaria Café