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Pi Pizzeria (Formerly District of Pi), Saint Louis-Based Deep Dish Pizza Chain in Penn Quarter - Bethesda Location is Closed


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On 2/5/2011 at 5:37 PM, 'thetrain said:

Thanks for the advice. Aspiring restauranteurs please note that this city has a dearth of pan/deep dish pizza.

Not for long. District of Pi, the DC branch of St Louis-based Pi Pizzeria, launches their food truck this month, and opens their Penn Quarter location in March on Pi day.

Their specialty? Chicago deep-dish. The First Pizza Eater created something of a stir last fall by declaring it to be the best deep-dish yet, to the consternation of his hometown.

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On 2/5/2011 at 3:21 PM, bookluvingbabe said:

WTF? What self respecting St. Louisian would eat deep dish pizza?

St. Louis pizza is paper thin.

Jennifer, homesick for decent pizza again.

Apparently quite a few. Still the search for crackery Provel-topped pizza in DC goes on. I noticed the other day that one of the Olé branded cheeses seemed to have the right sort of meltiness, but that's a topic for another thread.

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On 2/5/2011 at 3:21 PM, bookluvingbabe said:

WTF? What self respecting St. Louisian would eat deep dish pizza?

St. Louis pizza is paper thin.

Jennifer, homesick for decent pizza again.

Oh, thank goodness someone else said it first ...

I mean, I realize that to East Coasters, Chicago and St. Louis are both "somewhere in the middle" ... but I feel like calling out that this chain is StL-based is sort of meaningless if their specialty is Chicago-style. wink.gif

Of course, according to their website, both thin and deep-dish are their specialty. rolleyes.gif

(Raise your hand if all your grade-school pizza parties carried in from Imo's.)

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On 2/5/2011 at 11:31 AM, lion said:
ol_ironstomach, on 05 February 2011 - 09:47 PM, said:

Not for long. District of Pi, the DC branch of St Louis-based Pi Pizzeria, launches their food truck this month, and opens their Penn Quarter location in March on π day.

Their specialty? Chicago deep-dish. The First Pizza Eater created something of a stir last fall by declaring it to be the best deep-dish yet, to the consternation of his hometown.

Perfect! After my time in St. Louis but I've heard good things. Now if only Blackthorn's pizza and bar could be recreated here too...

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On 2/5/2011 at 3:26 PM, leleboo said:

Oh, thank goodness someone else said it first ...

I mean, I realize that to East Coasters, Chicago and St. Louis are both "somewhere in the middle" ... but I feel like calling out that this chain is StL-based is sort of meaningless if their specialty is Chicago-style. wink.gif

Of course, according to their website, both thin and deep-dish are their specialty. rolleyes.gif

(Raise your hand if all your grade-school pizza parties carried in from Imo's.)

STL style pizza is thin crust, preferably with provel cheese and from Imo's. But, I have had the pleasure of eating Pi's pizza many times in St. Louis, and while it cannot be called "St. Louis Style Pizza," it is nevertheless from St. Louis. I wouldn't think this is true Chicago-style either, even though it is deep dish. They use a corn meal crust, which is IMHO, what makes this pizza delicious. The crust is flavorful, and has just the right amount of crunch and give, to hold up the high-quality toppings and marinara-type sauce.

The big deal about this place in STL, (other than the pizza being good) is that Obama ate their pizza when he was in STL on the campaign trail, and he loved it. I heard (and this could be off) that when he became President, he liked Pi so much that he had it delivered... all the way to the White House.

Were I still in DC, I would be very happy to have Pi as an option. But, luckily I'm in NYC and I have no pizza issues. Now, if you can find me Chicken Makhani on the UWS that comes even somewhat close to the greatness of Heritage, I would be ecstatic. Talk about a foodie wasteland - be forewarned. If you move to NYC, do not move to the UWS!

Thanks for the heads up DR wink.gif

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The store front of District of Pi doesn't gives a sense of how big the space is - a bar up front, a host stand, and a smallish sized front dining room keep going back into a large two level atrium-style dining space with another balcony bar and dining area along the back wall. Quite TARDIS like really.

We were there two days after they opened, not all the beer listed was in stock, some of the dishes were unavailable, and the staff were still getting up to speed. We were apologized to probably about 20 times throughout the evening. But being their second day we were fine with letting it slide. Everyone was super friendly and seemed happy to have the place up and running.

These guys do deep dish and thin crust. We went with the deep dish.

Now is deep dish really pizza...I would side in the No camp.

However, the Berkeley (mozzarella, portobella mushrooms, onions, kalamata olives, red bell peppers, garlic, zucchini) made for some good eating. We thought of it as more of a pie shell stuffed with veggies, cheese and topped with sauce. We ordered the small ($16) and it was easily enough for two people. In fact, the left over slices were excellent reheated the next morning topped with a couple sunnyside eggs.

The Capitol salad (arugula, cucumber, feta, mint and olive-orange tapanade) was huge (we did order the large size at $9) and kind of a sloppy mess...but flavor wise fine.

Overall, based on one visit, on their third day of service, we were happy with what we got. One small pizza, large salad, and two beers (third beer was comped) came in at $37 before tax and tip.

Apparently some people from Chicago are happy.

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On 9/15/2011 at 5:24 PM, Tweaked said:

The store front of District of Pi doesn't gives a sense of how big the space is - a bar up front, a host stand, and a smallish sized front dining room keep going back into a large two level atrium-style dining space with another balcony bar and dining area along the back wall. Quite TARDIS like really.

Time Lord science: it's bigger on the inside.

Sounds like for this place, that's not a boon. Alas.

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We tried it out and it is definitely much bigger on the inside like previously observed.

As we walked up to District of 3.14, for a second, I wondered if it was the 930. Whenever, I'm on that side of the street looking at the Fifth Column, it reminds me of giving a few dollars to guys on the street to make sure my car didn't get scratched in the late 1980s going to see shows. Since it's 20 years later, there wasn't a midnight show to attend, but dinner with friends at 6pm.

The garlic bread with real garlic was pleasing warm and fresh. The salads were equally green and enjoyable. However as always , pizza is the main show. I found it understated from my Chicago memories, but since it was a St Louis style pie which I have no experience tasting, perhaps it was normal. The cornmeal crush was good in terms of texture. The day after the slices were pretty much the same.

A good night overall, however not in a rush to put it into the normal rotation.

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Hit up District of Pi last night with a few girlfriends. We started at the bar for HH and enjoyed a couple $5 glasses of wine (they had a red and white, plus two beers, and maybe something else I'm forgetting). They also had about 4 appetizer options for $4 a piece. We shared the pi hummus plate (house-made hummus with roasted red peppers, green and kalamata olives and flatbread), which was good. A generous serving of both hummus and flat bread (almost like pizza crust cut into strips), with a small serving of olives on the side. The olives/red pepper seemed like more of an afterthought, but since I don't like olives it didn't really bother me.

We arrived at the bar around 5:30 and got seated around 6:30. The place began to fill up between those times, but we had no problem getting a table at 6:30, and when we left there were still tables available. It really is a very large space inside.

To start we each got a small salad, which are all $6 (large versions of the same salads for $9). All the salads were rather large, so I'd be curious to see how big the actual large sizes are! I think we could've shared 2 salads between the 4 of us and been ok. I had the house (field greens, red bell peppers, red onions, gorgonzola cheese and chopped walnuts, tossed in a house-made vinaigrette), and others had the BLT and Bada Bing. Mine was nothing out of the ordinary, but had good ingredients in nice proportions and wasn't swimming in dressing.

For entrees we decided to split two small pizzas. After the appetizer at the bar and salads, this was more than enough for the four of us, and there were actually a few pieces leftover. We shared one deep dish, the south side classico (mozzarella, sausage, mushrooms, green bell peppers, onions. 17 – small) and one thin crust, the central west end (mozzarella, volpi prosciutto, goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, red onions, arugula. 17 - small). If I want pizza, I am usually craving thin crust and not deep dish (I almost consider that a different type of meal), but the south side classico was good. I could've used a bit more sausage, but I liked the flavor of the sauce and the crust had a nice cornmeal quality to it. The thin crust could have had a little more charring or a darker crust, but I really liked all of the toppings and the overall taste was good.

I'm not sure I would go out of my way to visit District of Pi in the future, but I think it's definitely a good option to have in the Penn Quarter area. It will appease a lot of different appetites and has enough space that I think it won't be prohibitively difficult to get a table most nights (although I'm sure it will be busy on Verizon center event nights).

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Surprised that nobody posts about this place.

Went last night for the first time. The South Side Classico (mozzarella, sausage, mushrooms, green bell peppers and onions - $18 for a small that feeds 2) is a pretty solid replica of what Gino's serves in Chicago. A solid beer tap/bottle/can list, including a couple of ciders.

A very worthwhile stop before a show at Ford's or the Landmark.

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When I still was in DC regularly Pi was one of our default stops before heading home on the green line. They have a good happy hour. I liked eating at the bar, as the staff were always very pleasant. Not the best pizza in DC, but always enjoyable and consistent. We used to drop in at Ella's for similar occasions, but we liked Pi much better.

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On 5/14/2014 at 4:44 PM, DanielK said:

Surprised that nobody posts about this place.

I love this place, and have never thought to post about it. I used to love their truck. Now I periodically go down there for lunch with a friend who works in the neighborhood. Very tasty pizza.

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Pizza, service, menu nearly identical to the Penn Quarter location. Presented without judgement. :-)

They did ship a few folks up from there to help with training. The bar redesign is very nice - a lot more inviting than Haven, for my taste. Although mostly I was just happy somebody noticed us for a change.

 

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Went Friday evening...

Kind of a shame to see a huge coal or wood fired oven sitting unused----with conveyor ovens cooking the pizza.  Yes a chain, but....

Pizza- was what I would expect from a conveyor belt, nothing memorable in anyway,

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3 hours ago, mdjordy said:

Went Friday evening...

Kind of a shame to see a huge coal or wood fired oven sitting unused----with conveyor ovens cooking the pizza.  Yes a chain, but....

Pizza- was what I would expect from a conveyor belt, nothing memorable in anyway,

To my knowledge, Chicago deep dish pizzas aren't cooked in coal or wood fired ovens. And since they are cooked in pans, not directly in front of heat on the oven floor, not sure what it would even accomplish. Giordano's and the rest just use regular gas ovens. If they can keep the heat up, I don't see what you're losing with a conveyor belt.

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5 hours ago, DanielK said:

To my knowledge, Chicago deep dish pizzas aren't cooked in coal or wood fired ovens. And since they are cooked in pans, not directly in front of heat on the oven floor, not sure what it would even accomplish. Giordano's and the rest just use regular gas ovens. If they can keep the heat up, I don't see what you're losing with a conveyor belt.

That was my thought as well. Can't speak to the Bethesda location yet, but the downtown shop has the best deep dish pizzas I've had in the DC area.

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4 hours ago, mtureck said:

 the downtown shop has the best deep dish pizzas I've had in the DC area.

Very much agreed. I used to love their pizza truck, and really enjoy the pizza at the downtown shop.

Also, the beer list is really good.

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Nice family dinner at the Bethesda location this past Sunday. Beer selection is excellent, particularly enjoyed a Green Flash Tangerine Soul Style IPA. The wings are excellent, especially considering that they're baked. I find their thin crust pizza to be a little boring, almost looks like a grocery store freezer aisle pie. But if you're open minded about deep dish, I think their version is quite good. We split a

WESTERN ADDITION
mozz, baby spinach, mushroom, onion, ricotta, feta, garlic. 
17.95/22.95

The garlic and feta in the pie paired nicely with the classic deep dish canned tomato blanket. Decent amount of garlic zest and savory cheese to go along with the sweet tomato. Service was very friendly, good, just a little slow with the drink re-orders (don't let all the kids at the table fool you, we're a pretty fast drinking family!). 

This is easily my first choice of restaurant/bar/casual spots on the Bethesda Row side. 

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Hit District of Pi a few months ago with my brother, and liked it a lot. Hit the Bethesda Pi a couple weeks ago and didn't like it as much. Got thin-crust both times. Love the cornmeal. What I didn't love at Bethesda was how the pizza was overloaded with high-moisture toppings (mainly cherry tomatoes and mozz balls), making it an extremely soggy pie pretty quickly.

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36 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Just to note that District of Pi is the rare restaurant that has 100% positive posts.

District of Pi sucks*.  99.9% positive posts. :P

*Actually the couple times I've been to the F street location I've liked their deep dish style pizza. Plus they have vegan cheese, so the vegan Sister-in-law can eat there too.

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26 minutes ago, Tweaked said:

District of Pi sucks*.  99.9% positive posts. :P

*Actually the couple times I've been to the F street location I've liked their deep dish style pizza. Plus they have vegan cheese, so the vegan Sister-in-law can eat there too.

I like the place - so now we're at 99.91%.  Worried the Bethesda location won't make it, though.  That place is never very full.

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1 minute ago, zgast said:

I like the place - so now we're at 99.91%.  Worried the Bethesda location won't make it, though.  That place is never very full.

I think they do a pretty decent carry out business. If I was running the place I'd replace the aluminum stools and make the bar a more inviting place. Though there's suddenly a lot of competition for places on the stuffier side of Bethesda to post up for a good beer -- with World of Beer off to a popular start down the street. 

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29 minutes ago, Kev29 said:

I think they do a pretty decent carry out business. If I was running the place I'd replace the aluminum stools and make the bar a more inviting place. Though there's suddenly a lot of competition for places on the stuffier side of Bethesda to post up for a good beer -- with World of Beer off to a popular start down the street. 

I'd settle for a decent glass of wine - Persimmon is the only place that carries non 'stock' wines now - and their bar is completely packed during most Happy Hours.  Haven't been to World of Beer yet - perhaps they can begin the migration eastward of people actually going out and being social.

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33 minutes ago, mtureck said:

Man, bad day for places I like.

Good restaurant, terrible location.

I had a solid meal with a friend at the Bethesda location last year. Now that I look back, the place was pretty dead. Good pizza though! Hope the downtown branch sticks around.

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Takeout again for zoom happy hour. Pizza for all three houses. I don't remember what the other 2 got, although I know it was deep dish. One of them got my favorite salad from there, the bada bing, which is really quite tasty. We got deep dish with mushrooms, spicy sausage, and fresh mozzarella pearls. Quite tasty. (tonight's special zoom guest star, my brother in western NY, also had pizza, but I think his was from Pontillo's. So not deep dish.)

Also, house made salad, then "dirt road" ice cream from South Mountain.

Oh, and chianti.

Anyhow, I still like this place a lot.

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