Tucked into the brand-new Mercantile Exchange (MX) building downtown is the fifth location of Pi Pizzeria (610 Washington Avenue; 314-588-7600) in St. Louis, an empire that now stretches from west county down to the mighty Mississippi.
"It's the heart of our hometown city, and we're thrilled to have a home nearby some incredible international companies and many great creative firms," says Chris Sommers, cofounder of Pi, in an e-mail interview with Gut Check.
"We also love the proximity to MetroLink, the upcoming National Blues Museum, the Convention Center, Busch Stadium and the Edward Jones Dome. We love this location's ability to expose tourists and other visitors to our pizza, too. We were also fortunate to be able to test the waters of demand for our product downtown through the use of our pizza truck. From that experience, we were more confident that we could be successful with a brick and mortar location."
Unlike other Pi restaurants, the MX location is the first to have gas ranges in the kitchen. The ranges allow for two new additions to the menu: a beer-cheese soup made with the Schlafly Pi Common beer and Wisconsin cheddar cheese and gazpacho. Pi MX is also offering two new pizzas, "the Ball Park" (mozzarella, salsiccia, roasted red peppers, onion, basil and tomato-mustard sauce) and "the Grove" (mozzarella, Volpi sopressata, red chilies, oregano and spicy tomato sauce), as well as an Ozark Forest salad made with shiitake and oyster mushrooms. On tap, Pi has rolled out a new collaboration with local brewery 4 Hands called the Pi-PA, a sessionable (low ABV) American pale ale.
The restaurant was designed by local architects Space, and Sommers couldn't be happier with the results.
"We do really respect their work and are thrilled with the finished product," he says. "Kyle Nottmeier was the lead architect and he did an incredible job. The space includes many reclaimed elements, including nearly 3000 square feet of barn wood from New Haven, Missouri and a large banquet by local furniture maker Mwanzi is made of reclaimed shipping pallets found in dumpsters and alleys around St. Louis. We are very excited to have a private dining room at this space, something that's missing in most of our locations."
Sommers has more plans for Pi through the rest of the year, including a commissary and private dining space, which are scheduled to open this fall. He also said Pi would be looking to expand to one or two other locations outside the St. Louis market.