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!
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.
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!
34 Commerce Park Drive, Barrie, Ontario, L4N 1X8
Written by: Penelope Morrow
Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets @penelopejmorrow