Easy As Pi Bar


If I were to lay all the pizzas I have eaten in San Francisco end-to-end, chances are they'd nearly reach back to my old East coast stomping grounds. OK, maybe not—but the point is, I have eaten a lot of pizza since moving out here. And while New York may be widely considered to be the hometown of pizza, SF comes in a not-too-shabby close second. Evidence of its popularity is everywhere, including in the build-up to the opening of Pi Bar, which opened two weeks ago in the former Suriya Thai space on Valencia.

But beware, San Franciscans: these are not 12-inchers topped with wild arugula and hand-massaged pancetta and exotic cheese smuggled over the Alps in a shepherd's armpit. They are either 15 or 21-inch rounds (the latter which resembles a bicycle wheel) that are unapologetically greasy, with unapologetically "normal" toppings—pepperoni, portabella mushrooms, house-made Italian sausage, anchovies, meatballs and the like. Don't go looking for pineapple. Do not ask for pesto. If you have been raised on California pizza—that is to say, a kind of Neapolitan style with the aforementioned "fancy" toppings—this pizza will likely seem like an afront. If you are a native East coaster, you may have some sympathy for the salty pie, with its thick blanket of cheese. It might taste like home, or take you back to late-nights of yore. You might be inclined to blot your slice with your paper napkin, like you'd do at many a joint in NYC.

To round out the small menu there are a few salads (including an expensive, lackluster Caesar), nuggets of fried mozzarella with marinara sauce and a couple of pasta dishes. What the food menu lacks in length, however, the beer menu more then makes up for—it is long and thoughtful, with lots of interesting things on tap and a nice assortment of Belgian brews. You could be happy with a beer and a slice there (slices are priced at $3.14—Pi, that is. Get it? You can also get a slice and the beer of the day for $6.28.). Before Pi Bar opened, a letter posted on the door attempted to assuage neighbors' fears about Pi Bar's intentions. In that letter, the owners mentioned that "It is our intention to be a well-lit, positive addition to the community." And while we could stand to see the lights turned down just a bit (it is, in fact, VERY well-lit), we agree that the community—heck, every community—could use a regular pizza joint with a great beer list. 1432 Valencia St., 415-970-9670, pibarsf.com

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