This is the Place
Best Pizza in Utah!
Restaurant: The Pie
I hadn't been to the Pie for a year or so. And, if you're a pizza lover, that's not shameful, it's a crime. I've been eating pizza from the Pie since I was a kid. When I was in high school, being able to take a couple buddies and take down a monstrous 30-inch Mama was a rite of passage. (Did it twice, and was not the one to throw up after either time.) The Pie is an Utah icon.
On this occasion, I went to my favorite of their locations other than the U, which is in South Jordan (nothing touches the original at the U). It was a weekend and I had four of my kids with me, so I was very excited to walk up to the front door and hear live music playing. Inside, I wanted to be sure that we were able to sit close. Luckily, there was a table available, and I promptly told my kids to sit down to make sure that we didn't lose the table.
The décor at the Pie is very cool. There are booths and tables, people write all over the walls, and basically any flat surface. One change was that they now have a beverage bar. On the one hand, I liked buying pitchers of soda for the table. It was something that was almost unique to the Pie. But filling your own soda and being able to refill whenever you want is cheaper.
You order at the counter, pay, then go sit down to wait for them to call your name. I ordered a Ham, Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza a side of Garlic Cheese Bread. Then I hurried over to sit with my kids on the covered patio to listen to the guy who was playing guitar and singing. He was a bit younger than the ones I had seen at places like Geppetto's, so I thought it might be more enjoyable for my kids. As it turned out, it was. He played a good mix of great stuff and was really pretty skilled.
But that just improved to the ambiance. The table my kids had chosen still had some wet rings from previous drinks, and there was a man who was scrambling to bus the tables where some large groups had just left. The greatest thing about it all was the patio itself. The temperature was perfect, not too hot, not too cold, with a gentle breeze. It was very relaxing and just a really great atmosphere.
Pretty quickly, they called my name over the speaker system, telling me that the bread was ready. I picked it up and went back to the table.
First words out of my mouth when I took that first bite: "Oh, yeah. Great stuff."
The Garlic Cheese Bread had a great flavor, and they put on plenty of cheese. The bread has sesame seeds, which gives it a nice extra depth of flavor. Not long after, they called my name over the speaker again, telling me four of the most wonderful words in creation: "Your pie is ready."
The first thing you notice when picking up a pie at the Pie is that it's heavy. The crust is hand tossed and a bit thicker than average, but not what you would call deep dish. The crust is thick and crispy on the outside, yet soft on the inside, and tastes of garlic and oregano. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The rest of the weight is made up of massive amounts of cheese and toppings. It is about the greatest sense of value I can think of in terms of quantity for a pizza.
It goes without saying that the Pie has the best pizza in Utah. The crust is excellent, a nice flavor in and of itself, but the sauce is even better. It is rich and spicy, with a heady undercurrent of garlic throughout, with a great thread of basil and oregano forming an Italian melody of flavors. The cheese is thick and, if you can get a piece off the pan without a long string of stretchy cheese fighting you for dominance, then you're not doing it right. The mushrooms were fresh, and there was plenty of ham and pepperoni. It's absolutely the best pizza in the state.
My second visit to the Pie was actually about my tenth since the previous description, because it is a hard sell for my family to say, "Let's try something different" when we all know that it's pizza that cannot be beat. So, finally, I was able to go with just my wife (wasn't our weekend with the kids), so we decided to try their oven-baked sandwiches. I love sandwiches and it is my mission in life to try every sandwich place I find. My wife is also a big fan of sandwiches, so it made sense. When I asked the girl at the register for a recommendation, she suggested the Pizza Sub, which has Salami, Pepperoni, Ham, Cheese and Pizza Sauce. I was tempted by the Cajun Sausage, but she seemed pretty confident in her recommendation, so I went with that, and a soda. She said that it also comes with a side of salad dressing for dipping. I went with Bleu Cheese. We paid and were told that it would be 20 to 25 minutes. Considering how busy they were, that was about what I thought they would say.
When I went to fill my cup, I was surprised to see that they had also expanded their beverage selection by adding that big jukebox-looking soda fountain that I have only seen at the Megaplex movie theaters. It has a color touch screen and makes it possible for about four thousan drink combinations, when you consider all the soda selections, as well as different flavors that could be added. I was pleased to see that it included Mello Yello (I much prefer it over Mountain Dew) and one of the options it had was to add grape. So I tried it.
It was Friday night in mid-January, so it was cold out, but there was still having live entertainment in their outdoor eating area, despite the freezing temperatures. So I looked out the glass doors from the soda-cum-jukebox and was surprised to see that almost all the tables were full out there. Also, the ages of the people outside were not just diehard teenagers, but ranged from teenagers to grandparents with their families. That was as good a sign as any that the temperature was being well controlled.
When we went outside, it was actaully pretty warm, but my wife still wanted to sit near the massive, rectangular fire pit that was roaring near the back of the covered patio, and a table right behind it was open, so we took it. Unlike my last visit, the tables were being bussed promptly, despite how busy they were, both inside and out, from what I had seen. I sat with my back against the outside railing (people were actually ice skating only 20 feet behind me!), so I did not melt being that close to the fire, and my wife just loved being toasty like that.
The grape Mello Yello was actually good, sort of a Lime Ricky on steroids. The guy playing guitar and singing was good (not the same guy as last time), although his selection of songs was more limited than his predecessor. (He was repeating songs before we left.) I was also pleasantly surprised when they called my name and said, "Your subs are ready." It had only been about 10 or 12 minutes, so I was really impressed.
When I went over to pick them up, the plates were arranged very neatly, with a clear indication that presentation mattered. The subs themselves showed a little browning on the top roll, where it was assembled and ready to eat but, alongside it, in a neat pile, was an inch of lettuce, two slices of tomato, a pickle spear and a bag of Lay's potato chips on top of it all, like the roof on a little house. All the veggies were stacked very neatly and symmetrically, with each plate being the other's mirror image. I did not know that it came with any of that stuff, so it was a nice surprise.
When I sat down, I layered on some of each, had a bite of the pickle, which had a hint of garlic in its flavor, which is always nice. My one criticism is that it would have been better had the lettuce been shredded. As it was, it was torn pieces of iceberg lettuce, which doesn't really lighten or add much change to texture, like shredded lettuce can.
First words out of my mouth when I took that first bite: "That's aptly named."
It really did taste like I was eating pizza between two slices of bread. The ham was thinly sliced, with a nice smokiness to it, the salami and pepperoni were good quality, the cheese was mozzarella, including the stretchiness that can be so fun with their pizzas ... all good things ... but left me looking at other tables' pizzas longingly. The thing was, it reminded me a bit of when I make French-bread pizza at home. So it was good, but just did not come close to matching their real pizza. When I started dipping it in the bleu cheese, it helped differentiate it a bit (and their bleu-cheese dressing is really good), elevating it a little, but still left me thinking, "This tastes enough like their pizza that it just suffers in comparison."
Although the sandwich was only six inches, there was enough cheese and meat on it that I did not feel like I was cheated, although I did end up finishing off all the leftover veggies that I did not put on it to help fill myself up the rest of the way. This also allowed me to mop up the rest of the bleu-cheese dressing.
In the end, it was a good meal, a great ambiance with the live entertainment, and a good time. It's just hard to make anything else compare when you know walking in that they have the best pizza in Utah.
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noun. Slang. A person who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a gourmet.