full disclosure: we are long-time devotees of pi. the original delmar location was one of the first restaurants i visited when i moved to st. louis, and it's pretty much the first place i recommend to anyone looking for good food in the area. quite literally, it never disappoints. still, we approached this review as objective professionals, not as the slobbering, blindly gluttonous fiends you would normally see on a trip to pi.
pi | euclid avenue location
central west end
as is the m.o. of all pi restaurants, the euclid avenue location tries to fit into the neighborhood aesthetic. the decor is a blend of ironic pop art and antiques. tres chic. the lighting is dim, to say the least, and there are large windows that allow diners to watch the omnipresent euclid foot traffic. we have been less than impressed with the eating space--table, seating, and proximity to other diners--and this night was no different. nevertheless, the euclid avenue location is very good looking, and comfort was clearly sacrificed for ambiance.
the first time we visited euclid avenue pi, our waiter was horrible. he seemed completely disinterested, and his attitude screamed douchebag hipster. yeah, we get it, we'll never be as cool as you and your neck tattoo. bravo. anyway, this time our service was exceedingly improved. since we're quite familiar with the menu, though, there simply wasn't much work for our server, but at least she shared many warm smiles with us and was attentive without being intrusive.
as is the case with all pi locations, we always order a large "western addition"; it's the pre-pizza nosh that changes (depending on location and/or mood). this night, we ordered the hummus. it's a fairly straightforward, westernized hummus (read: not oily), but it's flavor was exceptional, blending just the right amount of lemon and tahini. the accompanying roasted red peppers were a bit too limp for my liking, but they tasted good enough. the green and kalamata olives packed huge flavor, and it was clear that they were fresh fresh fresh. finally, the flatbread "spears" (our word) were great for dipping; we just wish pi would season them to cover up some of the dough-iness. if you're listening, pi, we're thinking rosemary would be money.moving on to the thing matters most: the western addition pie. for anyone who will listen to me long enough, i always explain that the western addition will change a person's life, and i mean it. it's the type of experience that sticks with you for a long time, the type that makes you dream about returning again and again. i've always been a fan of deep dish pizza, having grown up with pizza hut pan pizza as a weekly staple and then moving on to the deepest of deep dish pies in chicago (shout out to gino's east but not giordano's!). seriously, i'm a deep dish snob. and i thought i knew all there was to know about deep dish. not so. what pi does to separate itself from chicago-style deep dish is exactly what makes it better: the cornmeal crust. technically speaking, pi is san francisco-style deep dish, and it truly does feel "cleaner" than the deep dish found to our north. the sauce is impeccable, incorporating fresh herbs and gorgeously vibrant chunks of tomato. the mozzarella is always delicious, but it's the addition of creamy ricotta and salty feta that send this pie to the moon. add some spinach, mushrooms, and onions, and you have the perfect vegetarian death row meal. there is nothing we'd rather eat for our last meal (though lois would insist on adding a bowl of ben and jerry's on the side). it's the type of meal that makes your mouth water instantly, makes your eyes roll into the back of your head, makes your whole body swoon. it is perfection.
note: though not reviewed this time, the salads served at pi are some of the best in the city.
note 2: here's the final word on eating vegan deep-dish at pi: you must call in advance so that they can prepare the deep-dish dough without butter.
a (with match meat and vegan cheese options available, this pizza joint is head and shoulders above the others)