Restaurant review: Pies and Pints

  • Photos by Meghan Ralston
From the December 13, 2012 edition

You know how craploads of pretenders purporting to serve “real New York-style pizza” frequently bake forgettable dough rings? Well instead, maybe they should aspire to “authentic West Virginia-style” pizzas a la the impressive new Pies & Pints in Worthington.

Pies & Pints — the shop in Worthington is the company’s third, but first outside of West-by-god — doesn’t actually cite any geographical influences for its puffy-and-crackly edged specimens. Having said this though, I’m happy to report that P&P’s thin and chewy-yet-crispy crusts (gluten-free’s an option) — which strongly recall the beauties from NYC’s venerable John’s Pizzeria (no “Papa”!) — form the basis for what’d be deemed good New York-style pizzas even within New York City.

As its name suggests, P&P also highlights pints — about 40 nearly exclusively American craft drafts are available in a wealth of styles that can be generously sampled like flavors of Jeni’s; most are $5/glass, several can be had for $15/pitcher. Additionally, these beers — and their specific styles — are carefully described on P&P’s drinks lists, which also include more interesting wines than you might think (Orin Swift Locations E-1 and Pazo Serantellos Albarino go for about $25/bottle; some serviceable $5-$8 glasses are poured).

P&P’s sprawling, multi-roomed, strategically flat-screen-equipped and frequently bustling space (I’ve heard about, but not experienced, longish weekend waits) might best be described as comfy, ductwork-flaunting, suburban-friendly contemporary brewpub (sans beer-making facilities). One neat distinguishing feature is a front-room mural touting the White Elephant Saloon, which replicates the century-old brick wall painting uncovered while preparing P&P’s Charleston branch.

Besides scratch-made pizzas, P&P offers huge salads. The serves two-to-three, shredded cheese-fortified “House” I sampled ($6) was simple but fresh and refreshing with its correctly applied, perky house-made vinaigrette.

There are also upgraded tavern-y starters like Char-Grilled Hot Wings ($8). Served with what a mountaineer pal of mine calls WVA sauce (blue cheese dressing blended with ranch), these Barley’s-esque winners are marinated not saucy, and their pleasantly garlicky, citrusy and Sriracha-kissed flavor’s got a sneaky and lingering heat.

The Pork and Pepper Nachos ($10 for a gigantic serving) likewise overachieved. Conscientiously layered instead of just “topped,” this proportionally decked-out, multi-colored tortilla chip snack starred citrusy and perfectly salty house-roasted pulled pork, whose tender, juicy and flavorful strands convincingly testified for its advertised low-and-slow cooking.

That kicky pigmeat can also adorn P&P’s judiciously decorated and sauced-on-top (to retain righteously crispy/thin crusts) pizzas. While you can pick individual toppings, I recommend ordering a mammoth, feeds-four large (about $23) halved with two of P&P’s “Specialty” styles. These range from semi-sweet Thai (shrimp, coconut and curry sauce) to smoky Chicken Gouda (with bacon, onions and chipotle crema) to the “as seen on the Food Network and Cooking Channel” Grape (with gorgonzola and rosemary) to 14 other intriguing combos.

From these, I tried the familiar-but-improved Classic (fennel-seeded sausage crumbles, thin pepperoni, cooked-down mushrooms and banana peppers); the nacho-esque Black Bean (with ricos frijoles, plenty of cheese, crema plus richness-cutting jalapenos, salsa and cilantro); the garlicky and delightfully lemony (if controversially cheesy) Mediterranean with surprisingly good shrimp, kalamatas, artichoke hearts and herbs; and the in-your-face spicy Hot Ham and Pepper ignited by fiery “Mama Lil’s sweet peppers” (think sliced pickled cherry peppers) and sheets of bold capicola. Every thin-yet-substantial, herb and garlic-scented slice jammed into my grateful pie-and-pint hole made me think “Long live West Virginia-style pizza.”