November 5, 2021 | OPINION | By Hank Bedingfield | Photo by Claire Bogart
If you ever want to feel like a yuppie millennial on payday — or just be surrounded by them — without selling your soul to a life of poor selfies and chugy attire, swing downtown to White Pie. Don’t let that or the upscale pricing scare you off though; like its sister restaurant in Denver, this pizzeria serves some delicious pie.
On the burgeoning Tejon drag, across from Arby’s with its imposing, ever-threatening five roast beef sandwiches for $10, (as if anyone could be so boredom-loving and masochistic), and The Garden, threatening a good time and high-end boozing, sits White Pie.
The building is white and imposing with endearing string lights overhead that connect the inner restaurant to an outside dining area. Two large bars make up half the perimeter of the dining room, and a mix of long rectangular tables with big tops of slab-like wood fill the space.
While most of my fellow diners were young, professional-looking types in their twenties and thirties, the wine bar was quintessentially dominated by a distinctly material crowd, affirming the wino mom stereotype we love and loathe.
Everything on the menu looks tasty and choosing what to eat is a battle of its own and borders on frustrating. Starters, marked simply under the designation “Share,” range from the House Puff, a balloon-like orb of slightly-charred, air-filled dough, to beef carpaccio and Beet Hummus “Crudite” — an artistic shmeer of purple hummus with roasted veggies and herb tahini.
For those struggling with menu whiplash, cursing the wealth of feastable apps before them, the innovation of White Pie’s digital menu allows diners to like and comment on dishes as if they Instagram photos, in what may be the only pure form of social media — actively free of harassment, cyber-bullying, or any kind of negative beauty standard projection.
The pies are as varied and tempting. The signature at White Pie, taking a clear stand on one of the most hotly debated and regionally-polarizing culinary debates of our day, is a New Haven style personal pie. The pies are a little larger than the typical pie, with enough substance to send you rolling out if you should gorge on the thing in one sitting, and are asymmetrically round with beautiful doughy air pockets and irregular charring that takes you to some simple and rustic haven for all things delicious.
I opted for the special — a pie with spicy pesto at its base, pineapple-like rings of roasted butternut squash, red onion slices, and Italian sausage — and the white pie. Each slice was crisp on the bottom and well-equipped to carry the load of its delicious toppings and each bite fed a creeping heat that eventually crescendoed to an episode of sweat and dogged water consumption.
The white pie, the restaurant’s namesake, was decadent and delicious. Crème fraîche, mozzarella, bacon, pecorino, and a sunny side up egg make each bite a slutty exchange with hedonism. Through layers of flavor and richness, something genius and undeniably appetizing takes shape, and after a short wait of only 15 minutes.
On the note of fairness and criticism, the delightful fare and atmosphere are where my compliments end. If you like a drink with your meal, with booze you can taste — especially considering the $10 minimum for a cocktail — this isn’t your place.
All said, White Pie is a restaurant built for success. The service is knowledgeable and attentive. The ambiance is cheery and festive. The food is mainlining pure pleasure.