John Catucci left a bad taste in my mouth after my visit to Dr. Laffa. So I must admit a was a bit reluctant to place a take out order at Pie Wood Fired Pizza during a recent trip to Barrie. However, my curiosity got the best of me and I picked up the phone and ordered three pies for the trip home. This isn’t an easy task, however, since there are around 20 choices ranging from classic pies, crazy pies and hold the tomato pies. There is even a $100 fois gras and black truffle pizza.
Pie Wood Fired Pizza is located in one of the many large malls that hug the 400. Easy to see from the highway, it’s slightly harder to find. Based on the menu (and the name of the restaurant), pizza is the mainstay and it supported by some pastas, sandwiches and appetizers from calamari to salty balls. Upon arrival, I noticed that the front was plastered with You Gotta Eat Here propaganda. For example, there was a rather large poster with a proclamation from John Catucci himself….”I love the taste of pie…it’s delicious”.
The interior is a cross between an Italian bistro and a sports bar. Its quite open with nicely spaced tables and a large bar along the back. The walls are lined with posters and paraphernalia with plenty of pie, pizza and beer references. A blackboard explains the daily drink specials (long island ice tea, ceasars etc for $6). I paid for the pies and went on my way.
Pizza one was the Pepperoni pie…the easy solution for any child under the age of 10. There was no shortage of any of the promised toppings and passed the kid test quite easily. It had that crust pliability that provides great entertainment value as well as taste for the young ones. Not bad for $12 either.
Pizza two was the St. Lucia pie…a Hawaiian type topped with tomato, pineapple, house smoked bacon, mozzarella and shredded coconut. Other than the coconut, I have yet to understand the correlation between the name and the toppings. That aside, it was a delicious pizza. The bacon was sliced thin and full of flavour. Chunks of fresh pineapple and the subtle use of coconut add a delicious sweetness. The toppings were abundant but didn’t compromise the integrity of the delicate thin crust.
The third pie was the tomatoless cow pie, named for the use of braised beef shank as the main protein. It reminded me of a steakhouse dinner on a crust as it came complete with roasted potato, spinach, mushrooms, onion, cheese Sauce and parmesan. Once again, despite the cornucopia of toppings, the crust was not compromised at all. The pototoes were tender and the ingredients were presented in a good proportion.
Traditionally, really good thin crust pizzas are reserved for enotecas such as Queen Margarita or Terroni located along the trendy streets of urban centres. One wouldn’t suspect some of the best pizza going lives in a commercial area in Barrie, Ontario. The concept is brilliant; make pizza the mainstay of a sports/casual bar theme. Instead of serving a default, thick-crusted, warmed up pizza in order to add diversity to a burger and fry centric menu, Pie makes pizza the star. Sure, some of the crazy pies may appear a bit gimmicky (eg. captain pie liner, hedge hog, green egg and ham etc.) but I don’t doubt each is made with the same attention to detail as the ones I ordered to make a stellar product.Although I can’t comment on the service in the restaurant, it will be a place I will at least think about when driving to and from Northern Ontario instead of hitting the En Route or one of the many crowded chains along Bayfield street.
In the end, I fully agree with John Catucci…
“I love the taste of pie.”
Hmmm…now how would I add one of those winky faces?