Balls to the Wall – Meatballs, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Sunday Gravy, Basil
White Pie – Garlic, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Basil, Black Pepper
Hog Heaven – BBQ Pulled Pork, Onions
Sausage and Pepperoni – Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce
Replacing a few recent flops with the sort of Las Vegas born idea that seems almost too good to not have been attempted yet it was with ample expectations that Evel Pie officially welcomed patrons for Friday’s Grand Opening, all signs indicating that The Golden Tiki’s Branden Powers may just have built himself another big hit.
Co-created with the son of daredevil Evel Knievel and featuring just the right amount of kitsch and era appropriate music to reference an early eighties Manhattan, it was with several media-types having already tweeted pictures that guests were invited to taste pies crafted by local Pizza-maker Vincent Rotolo and a staff manning ovens that already seem well seasoned, the choice to go by the Slice or order a whole Pie accompanied by Salads, occasional Italian Specialties, Calzones and a sizable list of Drinks.
Decorated in everything from arcade games and taxidermy to old photographs of its namesake soaring on his motorcycle, service was a bit of a mish-mash given the nature of the evening, seating limited and tables awash in empty pans, cups and paper plates as admission tickets were traded for Beer or Pizza Slices that eventually led to a rather substantial wait.
Focusing squarely on the product, several cheap Domestic Brews served alongside some more unique Pale Ales and Stouts, four Slices were tasted fresh from a line of ovens, the simple Cheese Slice passed up but bound to be a hit as part of a $5 Beer and Slice Combination while a Pizza topped in Rattlesnake Sausage was not made available during this portion of the night.
Using gas ovens to generate a crisp Crust with good char and just the right amount of stretch, Evel Pie references the “New York” style slice shop in terms of both its shape and foldability, the toppings making a big leap in terms of both price as well as quality with first bites of the classic Sausage and Pepperoni showing a lightly acidic sauce beneath stretchy Mozzarella that complimented, rather than blunting the pleasantly spiced Meats.
Not as sold on “Hog Heaven,” the Barbeque Sauce a little too sweet and thus overwhelming everything from the Onions to the crispy Dough, a far better taste was found amidst a White Pie pairing puddles of Ricotta to fragrant Basil and light Garlic while the humorously titled “Balls to the Wall” put Sunday Gravy in proper context with Mozzarella and Ricotta plus housemade Meatballs that walked a fine line between hearty and soft.
N/A: Unfair to rate the overall experience based on a Media Event, the crowd too large and service just out of the gate, Chef Rotolo is turning out some great Pies in an area desperate for inspired grab n’ go Streetfood while Powers and his team have created the sort of environment where downtown visitors as well as denizens may want to kick back and stay awhile.
RECOMMENDED: White Pie, Balls to the Wall.
Avoid: Hog Heaven.
TIP: 11a-2a Sunday through Tuesday and until four in the morning on Friday or Saturday nights.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.