Thursday, June 20, 2013

District of Pi Pizzeria Food Review

Maplewood Thin Crust Speciality Pi

Pie in the Sky

Call me thrifty... perhaps even cheap, but I've resisted the call to visit Penn Quarter's popular District of Pi Pizzeria based on what I thought were high prices (at least compared to other pizza joints.) The thing is... Pi isn't a joint per se, but more of a pizza Mecca.

Funny thing, the first 15 minutes of my dining experience at Pi left lots to be desired. It took plenty of persuasion to convince the hostess to seat me away from other customers. The restaurant was barely a quarter full, and she tried to wedge me in between two tables of four (despite my specifically asking to sit somewhere quiet.) After she then pointed to the other side of one of the same tables, I decided to take matters into my own hands, "I'll take that one," pointing to the first of a row of empty tables facing the front of house.

Finally seated, I ordered a Diet Coke ($2.25) and a Maplewood 12" thin crust pie. Advertised with mozzarella, house-made spicy italian sausage, cherry peppers, fontina and fresh basil for $16.95 ($20.95 for a large) I thought, 'This better be good.'

I went through a musical chairs of sorts before meeting Pi's salvation (more on her later.) Hostess. Initial server. Then, a second server who dropped my pie off without a single word (but plenty of attitude.) He didn't even glance at me. Turns out he was my assigned waiter. I actually wrote myself a note, 'I don't like this place one bit, but pizza is amazing.' Not a great start.

But all that began to change once I sampled the first of eight awe-inspiring slices of pizza. The crust is almost cracker-like, crispy and wonderful. I have no idea how such a thin crust holds up to the mountain of toppings it supports. Thick, gorgeous mozzarella & some of the zestiest sauce I've discovered in DC. Each bite was literally packed with flavor. The sausage is killer (not to mention spicy.) In fact, it's one of the few pies that doesn't need red pepper flakes.

Speaking of peppers... cherry, yellow, WOW. All this, and great looks too. My pizza literally glistened, as it sat waiting to be devoured. It's filling too: I actually left the final slice, which I'm still feeling guilty over: My taste buds may not talk to me for a day or two, in protest.

One drawback to a spicy pizza is that it makes you thirsty. Cue empty glass of soda. My glass waited several minutes before Jolethra (I hope I'm spelling her name properly: I asked her to repeat it, just in case) saved the day with her quick eye and miles of exuberance. She seemed genuinely interested (almost invested) in my happiness. My second server finally showed up and asked if I wanted a refill... right as Jolethra came by with it.

I was dying to tell someone about how great my pizza was, and Jolethra was more than happy to accomodate me. You would have thought she had made it herself... the pride she showed in Pi's Heavenly creation. My faith suddenly renewed, I took in Pi's warm and inviting atmosphere (including Foreigner's "Head Games" streaming over admittedly loud speakers.) Knowing me, I wouldn't want to be here when it's really crowded.

I got up to leave with a big smile on my face, only to be reminded of earlier shortcomings as the hostess completely ignored me as I left (despite one last turn around, no nod, no goodbye, nada.) Lest you think customer service isn't important, the staff (besides Jolethra of course) prevents Pi from leaping past nearby Ella's & Pete's Apizza for top honors in the Metropolitan area. That said, there's no discounting Pi's incredible tasting pizza. I can't wait to return and try one of their deep dish offerings.

Atmosphere: B (A bit noisy, but lovely to look at)
Crust: A
Toppings: A+ (Are you kidding me? Amazing.)
Service: C (A for Jolethra, but F for the rest.)
Value: B+ (Amazing, considering the pie runs about $17.)
Overall: A- (To earn an A- with multiple hiccups in customer service is a testament to how great Pi's pizza is.)