The Gut Check One Hundred is our accounting of the 100 dishes in St. Louis that you must eat right now. These are the best dishes at the newest restaurants and the newest dishes at the best restaurants. These are the 100 dishes that define St. Louis dining in 2013. Our list culminates this fall when the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis 2013 names the "Best Dish" of the year.
This week Pi Pizzeria (multiple locations) celebrates its fifth anniversary. In that time the restaurant has expanded from its original Delmar Loop location to spots in Kirkwood, the Central West End, downtown and Chesterfield as well as Washington, D.C.
Pi also helped launch the area's food-truck boom with Pi on the Spot -- and it might very well be remembered for being equally prescient in deciding to retire its truck.
Oh, and the leader of the free world declared it the best pizza he'd ever eaten.
Pi's growth has been remarkable -- even more so as owners Chris Sommers and Frank Uible have managed to keep the quality of both food and its customer service consistent over time and across multiple locations.
The menu has continued to evolve. Yes, all of your favorite cornmeal-crust, deep-dish pizza remain, like the "South Side Classico," the "Bucktown" and the "Western Addition".
You shouldn't ignore the newer selections, though. Nor should you ignore the thin-crust pies. What might be Pi's best pizza right now is both.
At a quick glance the "Grove" ($17 for a 12-inch pie, $21 for a 16-inch pie) looks like your standard pepperoni pizza. But the thinly sliced cured meat atop the thick blanket of melted mozzarella is actually sopressata from St. Louis' own Volpi Foods, both spicier and earthier than pepperoni. The tomato sauce packs a serious chile kick. And if that isn't enough heat for you, the "Grove" also features slices of pungent red chile.
The crust plays a supporting role -- literally, of course. This is no small feat, given how much sauce and cheese tops it. Though very thin, it still lends the pie a hint of the deep-dish pizza's trademark cornmeal texture, a little spongy, a touch gritty. It helps lessen, if barely, the heat.
If you are at the Kirkwood or Delmar locations, however, I suggest pairing your "Grove" with a milkshake for chile relief, not to mention maximum caloric enjoyment.
Is there a dish that you think belongs among the Gut Check One Hundred 2013? Let us know!
See Also: The Gut Check One Hundred 2013 (So Far) - Famous Szechuan Pavilion's Spicy Wonton Soup (Novice) or Yu Shan Pork (Advanced) - La Tejana Taqueria's Goat Soup - Hendricks BBQ's Ribs - Sauce on the Side's "Costanza" Calzone - Siete Luminarias' Guanajuato-Style Carnitas - Fork & Stix's Khao Soi