Points for Pies & Pints
Posted by cmh gourmand on November 29, 2012
There is no shortage of pizza joints here in the capital city. Long ago, I read a report which indicated there were more pizza restaurants per capita in Columbus than any city in the nation. Go Figure. I have never heard anyone in Columbus say “Dude, we have way too many great pizza places.”
We also have a fair number of places that pair pizza pies with beer – Mellow Mushroom, Yellow Brick Pizza and Dewey’s are three places that come to mind in less than .05 seconds. I have never heard anyone say “Dude, we have way too many great places that serve beer and pizza.” Our craft beer culture is growing in Columbus and true beer nerds will tell you that we only have a select number of places that really do well in their scrutiny of beer selection. Places that come in mind in over 5 seconds are……Bodega.
So considering the above, when word started to circulate that Columbus was getting a place called Pies and Pints the initial thought of most was……”meh”. I thought otherwise. As a person that tracks food service trends the way other track stocks or OSU Football stats, I have been watching Pies and Pints for several years. Another critical factor was that one Michael Beaumont, a well-known stalwart of the Columbus Food Hipster scene as well as the producer of Foodcast has frequently mentioned Pies and Pints as a highlight of his trips to Charleston, West Virginia.
I was not the only one watching Pies and Pints, Rob Lindeman a former CEO of Max & Erma’s had his roving eyes on the business as well and put a team together to buy and expand the brand. And where do people test market and launch a new chain…….Columbus, of course. As goes Columbus, so go the nation. Pies and Pints opened in 2003. There are two locations in West Virginia (Fayetteville and Charleston). Founders David Bailey and Kimberly Shingledecker are still part of the ownership group and continue to operate the Fayetteville location.
Pies and Pints received a lot of local press in the last two months and rightly so. The company has done a good job of promoting the opening of their third location which is the first in Ohio and part of a multiple unit expansion for Columbus and the region. The Columbus Pies and Pints opened at Worthington Place (known by us old timers as Worthington Square Mall) in early November. The restaurant is an important anchor for a mall that is trying to relaunch and regain its glory days of the 1980s when it was a thriving retail destination. Pies and Pints will definitely draw more people to the area.
I was invited to a sneak peek a few weeks ago and I had an opportunity to sample several of the signature dishes of the restaurant. So let’s begin with the pies. They are good. They are good enough to get the attention of the Food Network. If you feel the Food Network ignores the capital city, then think about the chances of little ol’ Charleston grabbing the attention of a coastally focused trend starting network (this is my blog and I can make up words if I choose). The main accolade attracting pizza is the Grape Pie (featuring red grapes, gorgonzola cheese and fresh rosemary). Grapes? Yes, while this caused hesitation with anyone I mentioned this too, the flavors work together. More mentally accessible is the Cuban Pork Pie (known to a few as the Swint Slayer): Marinated pulled pork, caramelized onions, pineapple, jalapenos, feta, cilantro and crème fraiche. I think the description is enough to establish that the pizza is worth trying.
Meandering back to the start of this culinary exposition, another new pizza place, even one of the seemingly rare, better than average purveyors, really is not much to get really excited about. So let us now segue to the second part of the restaurant name and a true reason to get excited…..Pints.
Pictured below (poorly but proudly) is Pies and Pints secret weapon.
The man above is Mr. Ryan Heasting also known as the Pies and Pints Beer Czar. He also sports a fancy title: Certified Cicerone. What is a Cicerone? It is a trained beer guide. Ryan takes his beer seriously. He is shuttling between the three Pies and Pints locations training staff, selecting beers and setting the bar very high for the bar and the staff behind it. Every server is required to take Cicerone training and must attend a monthly tasting and training session. The initial beer selections were impressive even though Ryan is just getting started. According to the Dining Duder – “this beer list is really good”. The Dining duder is not one to show great emotion but irrational exuberance was displayed while the beers were discussed with Ryan elaborating on how he was going the grow the beer menu at Pies and Pints, why it was important to do so and how he was going to do it. We liked Ryan, we think he is cool. The beer list will continue change and for those that are interested in exploring the world of beer, especially regional craft brews, this is the place to go. (Note to Ryan: You were supposed to e-mail me about connecting you with some Southern Ohio Brewers).
The Final Verdict: Pizza Good. Beer Selection, very good, soon to be great. Much, much better than “meh”. The tag line for the restaurant is “Get Some”. I would say….get some. Welcome to Columbus Pies and Pints.
Pies & Pints
7227 North High Street