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Culture / Restaurants

Houston’s Best New Pizza Restaurant Comes From an Ultra-Educated Pie Master

Another Cool Spot for The Heights

BY Laurann Claridge // 10.15.16

Pi is a name given to the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter. For any circle, you can divide the circumference (the distance around the circle) by the diameter and always get exactly the same number. It doesn’t matter how big or small the circle is, Pi remains the same. Well, that’s good news.

One might guess that Anthony Calleo, founder of the popular food truck that’s now a buzzy bricks-and-mortar pizza joint in The Heights dubbed Pi Pizza, is a math geek. But the admittedly overeducated Caleo, who has degrees in theology and social work, came upon the name Pi (both the mathematical constant and a Greek symbol) quite by happenstance. No matter.

The man who was moved to make pizza his métier is having fun not only with the name, but with his inspired creations, such as The Outdoorsman, which mixes venison sausage with cherries soaked in port wine syrup ($22/$28), and the cool-meets-hot Herbivoracious, a cheese pizza with arugula, fennel pollen, toasted almonds, and lemon zest ($16/$22).

Lee Ellis and Anthony Calleo
Lee Ellis and Anthony Calleo

Loyalists who followed Calleo’s food truck all about town for 4 1⁄2 years have Lee Ellis, owner of Cherry Pie Hospitality (Lee’s Fried Chicken and Donuts, State Fare, Petite Sweets, Lee’s Creamery), to thank for luring him to the Heights spot of the former Funky Kitchen. They hired Austin architect Kevin Stewart to re-en- vision the space with the vibe of that old food truck and commissioned California punk artist Dave McDowell to paint 21 skateboards and install them in thesoaring space, which is open continuously lunch through dinner seven days a week.

Calleo has 60 pie combos in rotation, with 20 on Pi Pizza’s menu at any one time. He’s collaborated with mixologist Laurie Harvey to concoct frozen cocktails such as tart lemoncello ($5/$8) and bottled cocktails — premixed elixirs in cute little bottles served over Sonic- style ice. Teetotalers can order sodas and Topo Chico for the price of “pi,” or $3.14. Apps are as playful as the pizzas, with mac-and-cheese balls, fried in a crust of panko with a side of roasted jalapeño ranch ($9) and fried Brussells sprouts with butter- milk blue-cheese chunks, fennel pollen, and Mike’s hot honey drizzled atop ($9).

Desserts, courtesy of Ellis’ Petit Sweets, include a decadent fudge brownie and chocolate chunk cookie. The boozy ice cream, made by Lee’s Creamery (yes, Lee Ellis), isn’t suitable for minors.

You think I’m kidding? Try sending your tot up to the counter to order a scoop of the old-fashioned (as in the bourbon classic cocktail) or the black raspberry stout, made with Buffalo Bayou Brewing’s beer of the same name. Nope, not happening until you’re legal, little lady.

Pi Pizza, 181 Heights Blvd., 832.767.2433, pipizzahtx.com.

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