Popular St. Louis-Based Pi Pizzeria to Open Cincinnati Location in AT580 Building

Pi Pizzeria is set to open its seventh location, and only its second outside of St. Louis. The Cincinnati location will be in the AT580 building at 6th and Main Streets, one block from the Contemporary Arts Center, 21c Museum Hotel, and Aronoff Center, near several major corporate headquarters, including Procter & Gamble, and within walking distance of the riverfront and sports stadiums. The restaurant will seat approximately 125 and is being designed by SPACE Architecture of St. Louis.

Pi at AT580 Building - Cincinnati, OH

“We’ve been admiring the Cincinnati market for a few years now, but just started our search about a year ago,” Pi Co-owner Chris Sommers told nextSTL. “We are amazed at the resurgence of Downtown and OTR, and had to be a part of it.” Sommers has had his eye on Cincinnati for some time before finally signing a lease. Chris’s wife Anne Schuermann Sommers is from Cincinnati and the couple visits frequently.

AT580 Building - Cincinnati, OHGoogle Streetview of 6th and Main in Cincinnati.

In addition to serving award-winning thin crust and deep dish pizzas with a signature corn meal crust, the restaurant focuses on local brews and plans to serve only St. Louis and Cincinnati beers. “We are also very excited to partner with our hometown St. Louis’ largest local brewer Schlafly, featuring their beers for the first time ever in Ohio,” Sommers shared. The St. Louis Brewery, maker of Schlafly beers, is the largest craft brewer in St. Louis at 60,000 barrels per year. Schlafly produces Pi Common, a take on the Anchor Steam beer that started the craft brewing revolution.

A variety of beers from the burgeoning brewery scene in Cincinnati will be featured. “The brewing scene has exploded in Cincinnati and we can’t wait to pour as many local craft beers as possible,” stated Sommers. Pi Partners with local breweries in St. Louis and Washington D.C., hosting events, tap takeovers and offering custom brews, available exclusively at Pi. They plan to do the same in Cincinnati. Sommers also envisions a streetcar beer crawl once the line is running. The Cincinnati Streetcar will run on Main street past Pi.

Although created for internal design purposes, Pi agreed to share this video exclusively with nextSTL and UrbanCincy:

Sommers waited out the streetcar debate before committing to a Cincinnati location. “We choose our locations based on major transit lines, and feel the streetcar will be game-changing for Cincinnati,” Sommers told nextSTL. Pi’s original St. Louis location is located in the transit-rich Delmar Loop, the downtown St. Louis Pi sits atop a MetroLink station, and the D.C. restaurant is near both Metro Center and Chinatown Stations.

Pi at the MX - St. Louis, MOThe Downtown St. Louis Pi location.

Pi at the MX - St. Louis, MOThe Downtown St. Louis and Cincinnati Pi restaurant locations share many similarities (via Google Streetview).

The original Pi location opened in the City of Louis on Delmar Boulevard in 2008. Later that year, then Senator Obama visited St. Louis, speaking to an estimated 100,000 people at the Arch. An aide from Obama’s campaign was sent to get pizza and chose his favorite new pizzeria, Pi. The President became a fan and Sommers and Co-owner Frank Uible personally delivered Pi pizza to the White House for a 2009 dinner.

Capitalizing on the publicity, Pi opened a location in D.C.’s Penn Quarter in 2011. There are now four locations in the St. Louis area, including the Delmar Loop, Downtown St. Louis, Kirkwood, and Chesterfield. A Pi Truck also roams the roads and was used extensively to test the market in both downtown St. Louis and D.C. before opening brick and mortar locations. Sommers and Uible recently opened Gringo, a Mexican restaurant, in St. Louis’ Central West End, and have explored other restaurant concepts.

Pi was recently back in the Presidential spotlight, as it was recognized during the President’s weekly radio address for increasing employee minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. The Pi mention is at 1:31 in the video below. The current minimum wage in Missouri is $7.50 an hour, and $7.95 in Ohio. Pi employees in Ohio will make a minimum wage of $10.10.

Pi at AT580 Building - Cincinnati, OHA screen grab from above video shows street level design.

The AT580 building has been largely vacant since 2011 when Great American Insurance Company moved a couple blocks to Queen City Square, a building that happens to have been designed by Gyo Obata of the St. Louis architecture firm HOK. The 17-story tower was designed by RTKL Associates and Harry Hake & Partners for Southern Ohio Bank. Construction was completed in 1974.

The building sold in 2012 for $16M, the minimum bid allowed as a sheriff’s sale, after the owner had defaulted on its loan. The tower was again sold in early 2013 to Anderson Birkla Investment Partners of Indianapolis for $13.7 million. The new owner has proposed 179 apartments, 48,000 sf of retail space on two levels and 181,000 sf of office space, expected to be anchored by Fifth Third Bank. Last year, the Cincinnati city council approved of a 12-year property tax exemption valued at $4.8M.

If all goes according to plan, build out will begin in the coming weeks and a grand opening could be held in August.

This article is cross-posted at nextSTL.com

A Tavola opening soon in Gateway Quarter

A Tavola interior, photo by Emily Schneider

The guys behind A Tavola want to make their customers happy. It’s immediately evident in their menu, drinks and wine selection, and in their welcoming Over-the-Rhine space.  They even designed their open kitchen so that they could see their patrons react to the tasty food and drinks being served up starting soon (stay tuned on their Facebook page for more specifics).

A Tavola will be the third restaurant open for business on Vine Street between 12th and 13th in the Gateway Quarter district of Over-the-Rhine.  Cincinnati natives Bill Draznik, Jared Wayne, and Sam Ginocchio will primarily be serving up Neapolitan style pizza cooked in an oven that was custom crafted in Naples, Italy, which happens to be the birthplace of this style of pizza. The brick oven weighs as much as an empty school bus and can cook a pizza in 90 seconds or less depending on the fresh ingredients you order. Only about a dozen of these Stefano Ferrara-crafted ovens can be found throughout the states, and you’ll be happy one of them is right here in Over-the-Rhine.

“A Tavola” (pronounced “Ah Tahv-ahla”) is an Italian phrase that literally means “to the table”, but is used by gracious Italian hosts everywhere as a “welcome, come eat.”  The name is fitting; Bill, Jared, and Sam are seeking to create an inviting atmosphere as comfortable as going over to a friend or family member’s home for delicious food that is created with care.

Their 14” pizzas will be made with hand-mixed dough, San Marzano tomatoes, and several locally sourced ingredients.  Prices will range between $10 for a classic margarita, $11 for veggie options, $12 for meat options, and $14 for a pizza that uses a fig reduction as sauce and prosciutto and balsamic arugula salad as toppings.  While a hungry patron could probably take down one of these pizzas by himself, A Tavola recommends splitting several amongst a table of friends so that you can sample from their selection of pizzas ranging from traditional (margarita) to non-traditional (sweet pea and bacon), and maybe you’ll find a new favorite along the way.

As an example of the care being put into each of the ingredients, Bill, A Tavola’s charcuterie, will cure their slab bacon for a week and then smoke it using applewood.  The advantage of slab bacon is the ability to cut thicker slices so that, when cooked, the bacon has crispness on the outside and tenderness on the inside. The pork for A Tavola’s homemade hot Italian fennel sausage, bacon, and pork shoulder will come from the Dean Family Farm in Georgetown, Ohio, which also supplies Boca in Cincinnati.

front tables - photo by Emily Schneider

Every good pizza is made even better with drinks, and drinks are definitely not an afterthought at A Tavola.  There will be eight beer-friendly drafts and 15 bottle beers available.  Not to be outdone by the communal nature of the pizza, draft beer will also be available by the pitcher!  A slew of craft cocktails will also be featured, including classics as well as modern interpretations creatively designed by Sam, the genius behind the bar.

What is a good Italian restaurant without a fantastic wine selection?  There will be five red and five white wines available, each at $25/bottle or $7/glass.  These 10 ‘table’ wines were carefully selected with the help of level-2 sommelier Eric Faber, and are all set at the same price to make them more accessible to someone who is not exactly a wine connoisseur.

It is this thoughtful combination of personal touches throughout the restaurant, born out of passion for serving great food, that are sure to make both you and your stomach happy, and will keep you coming back to A Tavola for more.