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Oct 2, 2009 02:33 PM

Report - Pi Bar - Better than Arinell - but that doesn't say much

Checked out the new Pi Bar on Valencia last night on opening night.

As to be expected, they had a few opening-night service issues which I'm expecting will be resolved and they were doing their best to accomodate everyone.

Got a slice of regular cheese pizza for $3.14. It was OK, and definitely better than Arinell, but still just all right, nothing special. They claim to be doing California-ized NY-style pizza - i.e. same style, higher-quality ingredients, but this is still nowhere near as good as the "low-quality ingredients" NY-style pizza I've had in New York.

They do have a good beer selection though and good specials.

Ultimately though, I see this as more of a bar that also has some decent pizza, rather than a pizza place with beer.

Also went to Anthony's Cookies across the street and was disappointed with the banana cookie I got - but I was going at the end of the day when they were out of most of their popular flavors. Still....

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  1. Dropped in on a Sunday afternoon. Business was slow. Staff were totally friendly. Place looks great. The first words out of my wife's mouth after the first bite: "I'm in heaven."

    Not that there is any comparison, but we happened to have (finally, after 3 misses) had a meal at Flour + Water on Saturday night. The pizza at Pi is much, much better. More flavorful crust, more flavorful cheese. Not really fair to compare a simple cheese slice @pi to the artful padrone pepper + egg creation from F&W, but on a straight-up pizza taste-off Pi wins.

    The comparison with Arinell is more apt. But again I'll take a Pi slice no question about it. The crust is nice and crisp while the top stays moist and chewy. Where Arinell's is sloppy and wet and needs to be folded over, Pi slices hold up well with just the slightest dimple.

    I'm not one to comment after just one visit. But I had to react to the tepid review above. This is fine pizza. The closest comparison I can make would be with Rotten City Pizza in EV. I'll have to make a few more visits to Pi before I can really speak about that.

    3 Replies
    1. re: BernalKC

      I stopped in for a couple of slices. The Arinell comparison is only partly apt. Yes, this is NY style pizza, not Neapolitan that you eat with a fork and knife, and there's nothing fancy or creative about the toppings. Arinell's pizza is greasier (which I like). Pi's reheated slices are crisper and drier.

      As with all slices, there's some uneveness. One of mine didn't have enough sauce. The other was good--just like the NY slices we ate in college. The guy next to me got a whole pie, which was definitely saucier (and if they're making it to order, you could ask). There's a minimum of cheese.

      Big beer selection and decent if pricier wines by the glass. I wasn't tempted by the salad. This just doesn't seem like the right place for a $10 Caesar. It's not Gialina, and for that I am grateful. On the other hand, it's not DiFara's.

      Agreed, the remodel looks great. Plus they serve until midnight. Business was booming.

      1. re: Windy

        i grabbed a slice of cheese to go the other night. i live less than five minutes away, by foot, so i don't know what was lost in the brief commute, but i also noticed that my slice was lacking in sauce.

        i will have to go back again to get a better perspective, but i felt that i was eating a thin crust with cheese, without any of the sweetness of a tomato sauce. i can't comment on the new-yorkness of the slice, and i don't really care.

        let's just say that i was neither encouraged nor disappointed. but being so close by, i will be paying another visit. i like the feel of the place. it does feel like a bar, and they have a pretty decent selection of beer, on tap and in bottles. but $3.14 for a slice of cheese felt a little steep. i like the idea of their happy hour slice plus selected beer of their choice for a little over $6.

        definitely not the lava mess that an arinell's slice is, but i enjoy popping in there from time to time for a greasy treat. slap me on the wrist, but in the four or so visits to NYC i've made, i've never eaten pizza, so....

        1. re: augustiner

          I think the name is apt. It's more a bar with pizza.

    2. I went to Pi on Sunday for an early dinner. We ordered a spinach and homemade sausage salad with feta (good, enough for 2 to share, but a little too heavily dressed), and an extra large pizza with housemade meatballs.
      The pizza was huge, delicious, and almost as good as my memory of a good NY pizza (having lived there for 24 years). Crust was good, cheese was plentiful, and sauce just right.
      The bill was not cheap ($41, just pizza and 1 salad, no beverages or dessert)), but worth it. I prefer Tony's in North Beach by just a hair, but considering the parking it was well worth it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sfpizzalover

        adding a link...

        Pi Bar
        1432 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110