There's something very appropriate about the fact that Pi Pizza's truck, dubbed Pythagoras, is stationed outside Catbird's nearly every night. The back of the truck reads: "Pizza. Tattoos. Whiskey. Rock 'n' Roll." The latter three of those are found in spades inside Catbird's, the Montrose bar best known -- by me, at least -- for its fierce Manhattans and tattooed clientele, all of whom fairly exude rock 'n' roll.
And on the side of the truck, another paint job reads: "Gourmet pizza without the attitude." There's no attitude at Catbird's, and -- true to its truck slogan -- you won't find any at Pi Pizza either. Of all the bar-food truck pairings I've found in Houston, this one seems the most natural and the most appropriate.
I also say that because Pi's brand of kitchen-sink-topped pizzas also taste best after a few of Catbird's ultra-strong Manhattans. This is drunk food of the highest order, and as such is probably not best appreciated sober.
But it was with a sober mind and belly that I ordered four slices at Pi this weekend. It was a dumb move that I won't pull again, as four Pi Pizza slices equal one large pizza. Complain about the prices all you want (I won't), but $7 to $8 for a slice isn't expensive when you consider that one enormous slice will feed two people -- or one hungry drunk.
I had a buddy with me that night who I tasked with walking across Yupon to La Fendee for some salads to go with our enormous pizza (this is a pro-tip; feel free to use it), a buddy who used to own and run a pizzeria of his own. He's always much harder on pizza than I am and wasted no time in tearing Pi's pies apart.
"The crust is great," he admitted. It fell right into that sweet spot of being substantial enough to support an array of toppings while being neither too thin nor too doughy (the latter of which many Houston pizzas tend to be). We both loved The Outdoorsman with its fat slices of vaguely sweet venison sausage; it was the most traditional of the pizzas we ordered. But that's where his compliments ended.
"Pi Pizza is like pizza for kids," he told me after some rumination. "I'm convinced that guy takes pizza suggestions from his friends, some of which are still in high school."
I tend to disagree with my pizza purist friend, however. Pi's pizzas are inherently immature, but in a fun and intentional way. It's this last thing which really counts: You are intentionally ordering a macaroni-and-cheese-and-bacon covered slice of pizza, so both you and the truck have to be slightly immature on some level. Embrace that shit. It's wonderful when you do.
It's the same attitude with which you have to approach slices like the 420. It's a pizza named after weed, topped with the same stuff stoners want when they're well and truly baked: chili-cheese Fritos, barbecue sauce, heaps of mozzarella cheese. If you find yourself taking that slice of pizza too seriously, then -- my friend -- you need to either take a few steps back or retreat to the loving confines of Pizaro's Pizza Napoletana, where you'll get a pizza made as close as possible to the strict hegemony of the Old World.
Here at Pi, it's about fun and it's about getting spicy nacho cheese Doritos on a pizza because it's silly and because you can. Sure, it's not going to taste better than a margherita from Pizaro's or an arugula-topped pie from Dolce Vita, but that's not why you're here.
That said, the pizzas themselves can use a little work: the tomato sauce was a little too sweet for most of the toppings, while the bacon in the Who's the Mac macaroni-and-cheese-and-bacon-topped pizza was undercooked and sliced too thinly to be effective. I picked it off and enjoyed the mac 'n' cheese much better on its own.
But they're still good. And they're about to be a whole lot better: Pi has started a delivery service for those nights when you just can't make it out to Catbird's. According to its Facebook page, "High-fives are passed out based on driver's discretion & are done so at no extra charge."
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