Pi Brick Oven Trattoria (Woodstock, VT)

(Update: Unfortunately, Pi Brick Oven Trattoria, and several nearby businesses, were severely damaged by a fire on July 16, 2018, and then the building was demolished)

After a day of hiking around Woodstock, we were hungry, and decided that while our usual haunts (The Village Butcher Shop being one of the main ones, or the ever-wonderful Worthy Kitchen) we sounding quite good, that maybe this time we’d mix it up a bit and get some pizza. Pi Brick Oven Trattoria had opened a few years ago, and despite the schticky name, we decided to duck in and give it a try.

Located a block off of Woodstock’s Green, the theme at Pi is pizza-forward, with their pizzas taking up the bulk of the menu, although they also have a rather nice selection of salads, pastas, and antipastis. While I usually like to start my experience at a pizza joint with a classic Margherita pizza, and was tempted to do so at Pi, our hungry was rather substantial, so instead we looked for my other “usual” pizza order (sausage and mushroom). And here they even feature it, the Boscaiola, with mushrooms, mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes, sweet Italian sausage from the excellent Village Butcher down the street, and chile flakes. So that was our order, with some salads to start.

The standard Caesar salad is one of those little dishes that can be done several ways, and I always enjoy the style where it’s really focusing on romaine lettuce, and the salad at Pi didn’t disappoint: a rather substantial stack of crunch, well-cleaned hearts of romaine, served up with some house-made croutons and dressed (and not over-dressed) in a fairly flavorful dressing. A nice start to the meal.

Carol’s poached pear salad was also particularly nice, with some nicely poached chunks of pear, nicely dressed greens, and a nice scattering of nuts and cheese crumbles to give it some texture and flavor. Again, it’s nice to have a salad that’s focusing on the actual greens and ingredients and not just serving as a vehicle for dressing.

Next, our pizza arrived. You know, when it comes to pizza, I’ll have to admit, I’m a pretty solid believer in Pizza Cognition Theory, which is that of the many, many different styles of pizza, the one you prefer is the style that you were originally introduced to. In my case, my childhood was heavily, heavily influenced by my father’s love of Pepe’s pizza, and to this day, the mental image I have, and the resulting expectations for quality, revolve around coal- and wood-fired brick oven pizza, with a good yeasty crusty cooked at high temperature to the point of mild charring, a chewy thin crust, and topping that complement the bread and don’t bury it in sauce and topping. The style even has a name: “Apizza”, and that’s even what they call it at Pi. With that in mind, Pi actually did pretty good justice to our apizza: the crust was flavorful with a really good char to it, the sauce was rich and hearty but not cloying, and the cheese and toppings just a bit crispy. This was quite a good pizza, and a nice representation of the brick oven style.

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