Pietisserie/Oakland - GREAT pies!
Pietisserie, aka "Random Acts of Sweetness"
444 Oak St. @4th St., Oakland, CA (inside Nido, a Mexican restaurant)
Tuesday - Friday 8 am - 3 pm, and Saturday - Sunday 10 am - 3 pm
Wow, do we LOVE this place! So much so, we drive out here at least twice a month to try her new flavors and buy them for (very lucky) friends. The following review is of the pies we've tried in several visits February and March. Pietisserie has a walk-up window and a short counter inside the Nido restaurant; it is a separate business.
You'll often find owner-baker Jaynelle St. Jean working the counter. Every month there are three flavors of mini-pies and four of standard pies that you can buy wedges of. Whole pies are available, although it's best to order them ahead of time. The list of flavors changes every month; the website should be checked as sometimes she subs different flavors depending on popularity/availability. Parking can occasionally be difficult, depending upon day/time.
In the past two months we have tried a number of her pies. The wheat crusts are amazing, simply superb. The crumb crusts aren't oversweetened. In fact, none of her pies are oversweet. They taste the way pies should taste. If you want "a la mode sugar bombs", do not, repeat, DO NOT come to Pietisserie. These are five-star pies: American desserts that celebrate flavor and quality, not granulated sugar.
Spiced Apple: terrific. Spicing is light – true Ceylon cinnamon (I'm not a fan of heavy cinnamon, especially the cheaper Vietnamese cassia), the crust was terrific as always, the slices of apple are barely cooked and wonderfully tart.
Blackbottom Walnut: Like a pecan pie, only much less sweet (how does she do that?) with a thin layer of chopped toasted walnuts atop the cooked filling. "Blackbottom" refers to a thin layer of bittersweet chocolate painted on the bottom pastry crust. It's almost unnoticeable, but adds just the right touch.
Meyer Lemon: Wonderful lemon curd filling, with the same flavor as the recipe I use at home. The graham cracker crust wasn't oversweetened, unlike 98% of cookie crusts we've had.
Pecante: Pecan pie with chiles. Big, well-toasted pecans with a filling a bit sweeter than the Blackbottom Walnut, but still half as sweet as most pecan pies. The chile heat was the type that hit the back and sides of your throat, not your tongue. Oddly, the center was mild but as you got towards the crust there was more chile wallop.
Okinawan sweet potato: Purple pie! Tasted just like a really good pumpkin pie, except it had just a bit of texture to it. Hard to explain; it was smooth, yet not a mush. Again, great, fabulous crust, with balanced spicing.
Banana Chai/crumb crust: A banana custard pie with chai seasoning. If you eat-in (there's a couple of counter stools), they put a pouf of light whipped cream on top. Rich banana flavor, and that chai taste is on point.
Coconut cream pie: OMG this was my favorite. I can hardly wait for her to offer it again – and I will order an entire pie this time! And to think I hated coconut growing up…but this is exactly what a coconut cream pie should be. Rich yet not oversweet; buttery flaky delectable crust. Divine!
Chocolate cream pretzel: This is the most popular pie she makes. The chocolate cream filling is amazing. The crushed pretzel crust got split votes from our group of six, however. Half of them thought the crust wasn't salty enough and half of them thought it was too salty! Okay, you'll have to try it yourself to decide which side you're on.
Key Lime/crumb crust: Fabulous. Again, not oversweetened in either filling or crust, so the bright lime flavor zings through. Citrus lovers will be in heaven. We WERE in heaven!
We can't emphasize enough how amazing and high-quality Ms. St. Jean's baking is. She also participates in the "Friday nights at the Swan" in the old Swan's building in Old Oakland, at 9th & Washington Sts. Get thee hence, please, and support this young lady in her new business!
Each mini-pie or wedge is $5, tax included. Remember, open Tues-Sat only. Whole pies by special order can be arranged for pick-up at the Nido restaurant which rents space to Pietisserie, since Nido is open longer hours.
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We brought two pies (pumpkin and chocolate cream) to Thanksgiving dinner with 8 adults and 6 kids, and they did not go over well. The pies were on the small side (shallow and not large diameter) and a whopping $26 each. We were sent home with 1/3 of each pie leftover and when we cleared the dishes a lot of chocolate cream pie went in the trash, my portion included.
The pretzel crust on the chocolate cream was very crumbly, this was problematic for me because it felt like someone mixed sand into something that was supposed to be smooth. I don't have the same problem with graham cracker crusts for cheesecake, so this might be related to the pretzel. The salt/sugar balance was also off - it made the pie taste incredibly bland.
Pumpkin pie was okay, with the filling being better than the crust. Everyone preferred to eat it with about a half of cup of whipped cream.
So sorry you didn't care for the pies you bought! We had Pietisserie's Okinawan purple sweet potato and the spiced apple for Thanksgiving, and both were big hits with our 8 guests.
She doesn't make her pies very sweet at all. Even the Blackbottom Walnut, which I think is far superior to the chocolate cream, isn't as sweet as most walnut or pecan pies. The apple pie, for instance, has barely cooked slices of tart apple, and little of the usual sweet spices such as cinnamon. That works for us because we avoid cinnamon whenever possible, LOL.
Like you, when we tried the chocolate cream/pretzel crust last year, we didn't care for the pretzel crust. But we're not big on salted chocolates, either, so pretzels are not our favorite thing.
I actually can't imagine eating pie without whipped or ice cream, especially pumpkin (which is so never my favorite filling no matter whose, but other people wanted it so we compromised on the Okinawan).