PIE Wood Fired Pizza in Barrie

Randy Feltis is the proud owner of PIE and also of Oscars. Over the past 12 years Oscars has firmly established their reputation as the go-to fine dining night out restaurant in Barrie. Randy felt it was time to create a loud, fun, aggressive in your face dining experience, the diametric opposite of Oscars. PIE was designed to be bigger than life, and it is.

As a Certified Chef, Randy Feltis knows food, and describes PIE as “real food done well”. I agree. Walk in the front door and you will find the wood burning oven; constantly kept on, with a temperature of 900 degrees, your pizza can be cooked in a mere 90 seconds!

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The open kitchen area in front of the oven is well staffed and rates high points on showmanship. This is where the hand spun pizzas take shape. A technically superior method of creating tasty crusts, the dough is turned, tossed and covered in sauce, toppings added, then popped into the wood fire, where the magic happens. All bread and dough items are made onsite; for the bread service, the namesake pizza pies and the yummy sweetness of a dessert affectionately referred to as “dough balls” aka one bite cinnamon and Dulce de Leche delights.

PIE chefs roast their own mushrooms, grate their cheese, smoke their bacon, and cure their own pork belly, and they use local organic beef and pork for the legendary meat balls known as “salty balls”. Bread service offered us fresh warm slices with a side plate of grated parmesan, balsamic vinegar and olive oil for dipping, this is comfort food. Moving on to salads we shared and enjoyed both a mélange of fresh seafood on an arugula base, topped with real orange slices and pear, walnut and blue cheese with balsamic dressing. Buttermilk calamari was impressive, as were the pizzas. There is a huge variety of topping options, from the basic Kobi 43 to a 100 Buckie complete with Fois Gras and black truffles, Apparently if you blow your budget on that pizza, you will have your picture posted on the wall for posterity. Sandwiches, pasta and grilled items round out the menu.

Speaking of posterity, the aforementioned Kobi 43 is named after a well-known contestant in the PIE eating contest. While this reviewer has reservations about competitive food eating contests, they are hugely popular and as an advertising medium, they work. PIE’s yearly competitive event is Canada’s largest.

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PIE lingo garners attention; the “PIE hole”, is the garbage location, the “Beer in the Belly bell” is for content customers who wish to express their delight with dinner, their server will ring the bell, causing the intense open kitchen action to pause while the staff toss back a 7 ounce beer; this tradition is a compliment to the kitchen.

Another unique option is the “Craigslist wine fridge”; all bottles $59, patrons are welcome to root around and find some delightful choices including bottles of Amarone and Barolo, which is served in old school style tumblers.

PIE is to pizza as pi is to mathematics, a constant, relating to all things circular. Frozen pizzas are available for take home treats and, a sure sign of success, a second PIE location is opening in the spring. PIE impressed me!

PIE

34 Commerce Park Drive, Barrie, Ontario, L4N 1X8

705-725-WOOD (9663)

www.eatmypie.ca

Written by: Penelope Morrow

Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets @penelopejmorrow

Monsoon Lounge in Barrie

I came to the Monsoon’s around 5 pm on a Friday evening. Oddly enough, my friends and I were the only ones in the restaurant for the entire duration of our meal. Monsoon’s has a very posh design, with black, leather padded seating (sofas and singular seats) creating an overall comfortable, classy environment. There is no one to seat you when you walk in, so you can sit anywhere you would like. The restaurant is fairly large, with a very spacious bar if you’re only interested in going for a few drinks.

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If you enjoy martinis then I am certain you will be in Wonderland when you look at the drink menu. Monsoon’s has 101 martinis – it was so difficult to choose only one! The martinis range from a variety of sugary sweetness to strongly liquored, as well as appeal to the sci-fi lovers and the girly-girls. Monsoon’s has surely covered all of their bases where martinis are concerned. Searching through the never-ending drink menu, I finally decided on a Butterfly Martini – a blue-green concoction that appealed to my sweet tooth and made my taste buds soar.

Our waiter for the evening was very attentive, friendly, and quick with our drink orders. He was also helpful in suggesting the best of Monsoon’s martinis. Being a very picky vegetarian, it is difficult to find food that I actually enjoy, but Monsoon’s greatly impressed me. The menu is centered on rolls, sushi, and sashimi, but there are many options available. I ordered a Japanese Garden Salad, which consisted of organic greens, cucumbers, carrots, and was dressed with a sesame-ginger vinaigrette. My friend and I also shared Thai Lettuce Wraps – leaves of lettuce topped with carrots, cucumbers, sprouts, and mint, with a peanut sauce to complete. The meal was absolutely stupendous. Another friend of mine ordered Yam Rolls and Sake Sushi (Atlantic salmon rolled with rice and vegetables). We were all very pleased with the quality of the food and the delicious taste.

The prices vary from around $6 to $13 depending on the meal you purchase. The portions are large, so make sure you visit with a big appetite. The only downside was that the food took a while to prepare, even though we were the only ones in the restaurant. You are given chop-sticks to eat with – a hard feat for beginners, but it is a simple skill that takes only a few moments to master. If you are unable to use chop-sticks, however, forks can be provided. Other than the long wait, we were full to the brim and very satisfied.

I inquired about the nightlife, and the waiter informed me that Monsoon’s is a popular venue on Friday and Saturday nights for customers looking for a classy pre-drink before they hit the town. Monsoon’s is a perfect lounge area to gather with friends, and also hear live music on certain nights.

Located at 140 Dunlop Street East, just past Manhattan’s, Monsoon’s is closed on Sunday and Monday, but opens at 4pm every other day of the week. It’s a little hard to spot, so make sure you are paying attention while driving by. If you’re ever in the mood for an affordable and delectable meal I suggest you try out Monsoon’s – you will not be disappointed.

Monsoon’s Profile

Valerie Colangelo is a writer from Barrie. Read her blog at: www.accordingtovalerie.com and follow her on Twitter at @vcolang