I checked out the very new Westside Pie pizzeria last week and needless to say, I wasn’t running home to write them up. Owned and operated by part of the team that brought you SLICE, that two-headed Downtown pizza chain, you’ll find Westside Pie at the foot of the Apex Midtown apartments on the outskirts of Westside (sometimes called West Midtown).
I don’t know much about owner/operator Karen Smiley other than she hails from Savannah and has something to do with the aforementioned SLICE. There seems to be more to the ownership arrangement, but even so, Smiley is the one who is front and center.
The interior of Westside Pie (which incorporates the Pi symbol into the logo) is a large room in the industrial loft style. A lounge area is off to one side, complete with comfortable looking leather furniture and a white wall projection TV. The rest of the open room is made up of tables, booths, and a large blue backlit bar complete with fairly straightforward drinkables and two flat screens. The walls are fairly barren, interrupted by the occasional touch of art, that wall TV (showing another example of the overly ambitious Adam Richman), and the oddly included wire hanging mountain bike. Perhaps they use the bike for deliveries, otherwise … I have no clue what it’s doing there.
For anyone familiar with SLICE, or any Americanized pizzeria, the menu at Pie will offer no surprises and fewer surprises. The appetizer section includes bruschetta and an antipasti platter, a selection of predictable sandwiches (all $8.75 incl. a side), some entrées (most $8.95), and of course … the pizza.
Though Westside Pie hints at old school with a listing for a Margherita, the vast majority of their specialty pizzas ($20 for 16”, $17 for 12”) fall distinctly in the kitschy fun category. As to be expected, if Apricot purée and cream cheese or loaded baked potato pizzas aren’t your thing, you are more than welcome to build your own pizza or individual slice.
Divided into two groupings of *cough* special toppings and *extra-cough* extra-special toppings, adding anything at all to your pizza will make the ridiculously priced specialty pies look like deep discounted options. In all fairness, WP does offer daily lunch specials until 5pm that help make the cost a little more bearable. You are also able to secure two for one apps every weekday from 5 to 7pm.
After several polite albeit heinously uncomfortable interactions with the server, a nice young lad who must have felt he was speaking in front of a large group of bare breasted women, we settled on a large pepperoni pizza and their Italian sausage and mushroom lasagna.
Delivery time on our meal stretched to between 15 and 20 minutes. Given the emptiness of the dining hall and the cafeteria quality of the food that followed, I would suspect the lag was on account of early jitters.
Nothing about the pizza stood out. For those who defer to the thin crust options when ordering from one of those delivery chains, the execution here will suffice. However, the sauce lacked any depth and the cheese and pepperoni wasn’t discernably better than the store brand stuff from Krogers (as my poppy used to call it).
The lasagna was equally as problematic. I will say that given the $9 price tag, this thing was huge. However, I’d rather pay less for something of this quality in a quantity I have a better chance of finishing onsite. The menu listed garlic bread was nowhere to be found, but there were bigger problems to consider. Promises of ground beef and mushrooms were made, but Italian sausage and ‘shrooms was what I found in this mound of noodles and sauce. Obviously overdone, as noted by the charred noodles, the sauce was used with impressive indiscrimination. Sugar was the only notable seasoning, which became a minor issue when used in comparison with the overall quality of the lasagna. The idea that they will be offering lasagna whose ingredients change daily makes me cringe a little bit given the unimpressive nature of this classic rendition.
Somewhere in the footnotes of the menu is a reference to humanely raised, hormone and antibiotic free meat. Shrug – there’s not much context here for me to go on, but even if that is true – one shouldn’t confuse good and tasty with those buzz words. I’ll say that I feel like I’d have been better off bringing in a frozen Stouffer’s and some Totino’s and handing that to our server for heating.
After handing over nearly 40 bucks (including tips) for a one topping pizza, a lasagna, and two sodas, I didn’t experience anything positive of note during my one early visit to this new pizza joint. Little about the product sourcing suggests that there is much of a ceiling to this place and its location, in the midst of nowhere, means I doubt it will have a chance to survive. But I’ve been wrong before … or so they tell me.