I have such a soft spot in my heart for St. Louis. I visited as a young girl and adored it instantly – the gateway arch beckons you in to this mid-sized city with a small town vibe, with friendly people, cool neighborhoods, and lots of great food. STL made such an impression on me that I made it my home in college, living in apartments in St. Louis University’s urban campus, right down the street from the historic Fox Theater and minutes from beautiful Forest Park.
Right around the corner from St. Louis University is a little eclectic neighborhood called the Central West End. I adored this neighborhood – home to many of my favorite St. Louis restaurants and the coolest little bookshop in the universe. It was there that I discovered Pi Pizzeria: a cool pizza joint that offered thin and deep dish pizzas on a cornmeal crust, all named after STL neighborhoods. It became a staple for when my parents or boyfriend-now-husband came to visit – it was unique, delicious, and special in a way I just can’t quite express.
You can imagine my glee when I found out that, 5 years after graduating and moving back home, Pi Pizzeria was setting up shop in Cincinnati. Ryan and I couldn’t wait for the restaurant to open downtown, and quickly came for lunch after its grand opening to indulge in deep dish deliciousness. I had a pang in my heart when we ordered a St. Louis-themed pizza and instantly wanted to book a long weekend to return to my home away from home.
Ryan and I saw the opportunity to go back to Pi after taking in the Home and Garden Show at the Duke Energy Convention Center last weekend. It’s a short walk away, located in the 580 building on E. 6th.
The restaurant itself is absolutely gorgeous. We were having a little taste of spring that day, and although it was too cold to sit outside, I loved being able to sit inside with the sun streaming in through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Ryan has felt a deep dish pizza void since Chi-nnatis shut its doors a couple of years ago, so he is always pretty excited to go to Pi. Pi has a different style of deep dish than that of Chi-nnatis, and is also very different from the classic Chicago deep dish. At Pi, they’re all about the cornmeal crust, and super fresh ingredients. There’s definitely a place for Chicago-style pies, but I find that Pi’s version is less heavy – which is definitely a pro for every day eating.
You have about about 40 minutes (give or take) to wait for a deep dish, so we placed our orders and each started with salads while we waited.
I started off with a Simple Salad, which was much less simple than your average garden salad: the greens were so fresh, and were topped with carrots, tomato, cucumber, white balsamic vinaigrette. It was crisp and refreshing. I’m a bit weird when it comes to salads, and only like a little bit of dressing – in retrospect, I should have requested it on the side, as I thought there was a bit too much on my greens – but for most people, I think the ratio will be just fine.
I thought the pizza would be the highlight of the meal, but Ryan’s salad really shined. The Kale-ifornication salad is super unique: baby kale and baby arugula topped with quinoa, toasted chickpeas, pickled red onion, almonds and tomato, with a buttermilk dressing. The dressing was dynamite and the flavors and textures were spot on. Plus, it comes with insane cornmeal flatbread wedges on the side that were warm and fluffy and totally delicious. I’m glad I work downtown – I’ll be stopping by for one of these for a weekday lunch!
Our pizza arrived promptly after we had finished our salads. We ordered the Kirkwood, named after the surburb in St. Louis. It’s a simpler option on the menu, topped with mozzarella, meatballs, red pepper, and basil. The crust is a great foundation to the pizza: chewy, flavorful, and so unique to Pi. The cheese is gooey, with just the right amount of savory meatballs – and the tomato sauce on top is fresh and perfectly seasoned.
We ordered a small pizza, which is 9″ and was more than enough for 2 people.
Cincinnati has lots of good pizza joints, but Pi is doing something different, and is bringing a treasured piece of St. Louis flavor to Cincinnati. If you haven’t been yet, you should definitely go and give it a try. They have some really unique pies on the menu, including one completely dedicated to Cincinnati flavor (the Chili-Pi Way is topped with Skyline chili, Glier’s goetta, cheddar, white onions!) They also offer a diverse selection of craft beers, plus Fitz’s root beers, another STL staple. The only thing they’re missing is Ted Drewes frozen custard – but luckily, they have Graeter’s Ice Cream to fill that void!
We heard a rumor that Pi is opening a second Cincinnati location in OTR, and I couldn’t be happier to have this place right around the corner from me once more.
Until next time,