The Good Pie: An Outstanding Blend of St. Louis and Naples

Our man in Chicago, Daniel Zemans, checks in with another piece of intel from the road. Today, St. Louis. The Mgmt.

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[Photographs: Daniel Zemans]

The Good Pie

3137 Olive Street, Saint Louis MO 63103 (map); 314-289-9391‎;
Pizza Style: Neapolitan
Oven Type: Wood
The Skinny: A perfect blend of St. Louis and Naples, The Good Pie is a whole lot better than its modest name
Price: $9 to $16
Notes: Closed Sunday

When Mike Randolph and his wife moved to St. Louis to be closer to her family, the 2005 graduate of the New England Culinary Institute and former cook at the decidedly nontraditional Moto in Chicago decided to open The Good Pie, the only Neapolitan pizzeria in town. When Ted Wilson, a St. Louis native working at New York's Sullivan Street Bakery heard about Randolph's plan, he "got territorial about Neapolitan pizza in St. Louis," got himself hired, and moved back home.

The Good Pie is a thoroughly St. Louis institution thanks to much more than just owner and staff familial connections. The restaurant features a variety of local products on its pizzas, serves Schlafly Beer, and is decorated with items salvaged from a warehouse of a pre-Prohibition St. Louis brewery (including bikes on the exposed brick wall).

The Good Pie is also thoroughly Neapolitan. From the San Marzano tomatoes to the fresh mozzarella to the Forno Napoletano oven, the pizzas will meet the standards of even the most discerning Neapolitan purists. Anyone who thinks otherwise can take it up with Roberto Caporuscio, owner of NYC's Kesté and president of the American wing of the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani. Caporuscio spent almost a week training Randolph and Wilson in the art of Neapolitan pizza late last year. And when The Good Pie opened its doors on December 13, 2008, the land of provel had a new pizzeria that connected St. Louis to Naples.

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The Good Pie offers 11 different pizzas and other than buffalo mozzarella, which can be added for a $4 surcharge, does not generally allow for any additions or substitutions. I opted for the salsiccia beddu, which features broccoli raab, fresh mozzarella, and salsiccia fiamma from Salume Beddu, a relatively new local company. They were actually out of raab that day, which allowed for a substitution of spinach. Since the pie was designed with the more bitter raab in mind, I was unsure about the substitution so I opted to get spinach on half the pie. It turned out the choice of green was largely irrelevant as this was one outstanding pie regardless of which plant was on it.

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One of the benefits of traditional Neapolitan pizza made with proper ingredients is that it's always going to taste good. The Good Pie uses San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and 00 flour and cooks it quickly in an extremely hot wood-burning oven. My particular pie might have benefited from a few extra seconds in the oven, but I have a hard time distinguishing where a perfectly cooked Neapolitan pie ends and my preference for a little extra crispiness begins. Once a pizzeria makes the decision to bind itself to the rules of VPN, the place where it has a chance to really distinguish itself are in the combinations and quality of toppings.

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The sausage The Good Pie selected to use in the salsiccia beddu is phenomenal. The salsiccia fiamma features fennel, pepper and smoked paprika along with high quality fat-filled pork to make a rich spicy sausage that went perfectly with the creamy mozzarella and the yeasty crust. Normally I like to try more than one pizza at each pizzeria I visit, but circumstances (a very full friend) dictated that I only have at The Good Pie. I look forward to a return visit so I can try some of Randolph's other offerings, but as long as this pizza is on the menu, I will never visit The Good Pie and not order the salsiccia fiamma.

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The Good Pie is located right next to Saint Louis University's campus. Despite the easy access, I was told that only a fraction of the restaurant's business comes from college students. It's not a big deal for the folks at The Good Pie as the restaurant is doing very well, but if you are a student at SLU or have a loved one who is, you really need to take advantage of the best thing to hit that school since Larry Hughes.

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