10 King's Rd., St. John's NL
Overall tastiness: 5/5
Locavore approved? YES (loved how the blueberries for my crisp were picked my the co-owner!)
I have many favorite pizza joints on Vancouver. In the last couple of years, Vancouver has been swept up in a wave of new pizza restaurant openings, including my all time favorites Nicli and Farina (read my Urbanspoon posts to read my rave reviews on these!). I have not yet decided which of these I like best, but was confident that there could not be any better than these. Until I went to Pi in St. John's tonight...
I had been to Pi on a visit to St. John's a couple of years ago and loved it then, but thought that since being "spoiled" by the great Vancouver pizza spots, it might now measure up. Boy was I wrong! Some may critique Pi for being not quite as "authentic". They have a much longer lit of pies to choose from, and include options that certainly did not originate in Italy (for example the Sir Isaac Salmon which has a "sauce" made of sundried tomato and avocado cream cheese and toppings including smoked salmon and sweet potato!), but please do not let this keep you away! Trust me, these guys know how to make pizza!!!
The restaurant is what my parents call "yuppie", with bright colored walls, loud paintings and an ecclectic clientele. Our waiter was friendly and our food came quickly, with our pizzas arriving hot and fresh out of the oven.
We started with a Sunrise Salad for two, which was more than enough for 3 of us. It was a very fresh tasting salad with mixed greens, cucumber and a light dusting of crushed almonds. It was finished off with the perfect amount of a sweet yet light citrus-pomegranate molasses dressing. It was a great prelude for the pies that were to come.
After just the perfect amount of time needed for us to digest the lovely salad, out came our pizzas. Out of the 20 pizzas options on the menu (and the choice of making your own), I chose the Calabria, layered with a very flavourful creamy red wine tomato sauce (the hint of red wine added a subtle twist to the basic tomato sauce) and topped with generous amounts of sundried tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, red onion, black olives and just the right amount of italian blend and parmesan cheeses. I also requested the addition of artichoke (my favorite pizza topping!) which they gladly accommodated. The crust is thin and light (made with 100% vegan ingredients). It lacks the rustic bubbles and charred ends created with the use of a wood-burning pizza oven (as required to obtain the infamous Napoletana status) but I really enjoyed it nonetheless. Different, but not inferior.
My father ordered the Classic (tomato sauce, green peppers, mushrooms, tomtato) which he joyiously gobbled down, while my mother opted to "live on the wild side" and ordered the Szechuan Chicken (habenero-infused tomato sauce, spinach, roasted peppers, red onion, chicken, pineapple chunks and cheese). I had a taste of both and they were also delicious!
Although I usually pass on restaurant desserts, I could not resist ordering a piece of their Blueberry Crisp, especially when I heard that the co-owner had picked the blueberries a couple of days ago in St. Johns. How could a locavore like myself turn that down:) The wild blueberries were small and sweet, and were topped off with a simple oat crust that thankfully did not distract from the little blue jems.
Overall, this was a great meal, but lets get back to the issue at hand- how does the pizza offered at this small St. Johns resto compare with my Vancouver favorites? After giving it some thought, I have to say that Pi pizza is at least comparable to the great such as Nicli and Farina. Although some may shun their "unauthenticity", I actually liked their unique and quirky choice of pies and cannot wait until my next visit to try another. St. John's now has a Napoletana-certified pizza establishment (Piatto Pizzeria) and I think it is smart for Pi to stay true to themselves and continue to offer something outside the box.
Although Serious Pie in Seattle remains my all-time favorite pizza (see my previous review for details), Pi offers a pizza that is different in concept but just as good in quality and taste than any I have had back in Vanny.
On my next visit back to my home province, I will certainly be scheduling in a parent-daughter pizza night to Pi!