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Pi Pizzeria: Obama's Favorite Pizza Spot Now Open in South of Fifth

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There's a new pizza place in town. We know what you're thinking: Another pizza place?

Well, yes. That's what we just said. But this isn't the type of New York-style, thin-crust pies that flood the city, nor is it Chicago's tried-and-true deep dish either (although this place offers both). "The biggest thing about us is that our pizzas are very unique," says Bob Scott, manager of Pi Pizza (124 Collins Ave., Miami Beach). "It's not St. Louis style and it's not Chicago style, but its own kind of pizza."

The name Pi has a couple of origins. Pizzas are round, and pi expresses the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle, but it was the number for pi that caught owners Chris Sommers and Fran Uible's attention. "They're big into word puns, and after going back and forth with names, they realized the formula for pi (3.14) matched St. Louis' area code (314)." Thus, Pi Pizzeria was born.

This is the St. Louis import's eighth location, all of which have been opened by the original owners. "We don't believe in franchising." Current locations include St. Louis; Cincinnati; Washington, D.C.; and Miami Beach's South of Fifth neighborhood. Located right next to Story Nightclub, Pi should have no problem drawing ravenous clubgoers eager for something to eat after a little untz-untz. But the restaurant hopes to be more than just that. "We're catering to locals," Scott says.

As for the pies, they're a presidential favorite. Before Barack Obama's first term, the Chicago native (and presumably deep-dish lover) had a slice of Pi during a campaign trail stop in St. Louis, and he fell in love. He loves Pi so much that he even invited Sommers and Uible to flip some at the White House. They, of course, did, and the rest is pizza history. (When it came time to expand outside St. Louis, the company's first location was the nation's capital.)
The concept here is simple: to eat pizza well. That means only the best and freshest ingredients, along with organic, sustainably raised, and hormone-free proteins. Craft beer is a big focus, with 18 brews on tap, and a majority of them are Florida suds. "We're very into the environment," Scott says. "We don't use straws, and most of our beers are on draft because it reduces the environmental footprint." The pizza boxes are environmentally friendly, and 1 percent of all sales is donated to various charitable organizations.

The menu consists of snacks (think spicy pickles and pints of mussels), appetizers (crispy calamari, garlic bread, meatballs, and blazed wings), salads, and, of course, pizza.

Deep-dish pies are crafted with cornmeal and natural wheat flour to create the perfect crust. "You can eat it with your hand instead of a fork and knife, and it won't fall over," Scott says.

Signature pies include the Berkeley (mozzarella, zucchini, portobello mushrooms, red pepper, kalamata oilves, onion, and garlic); Kirkwood (mozz, meatballs, red pepper, and basil); and South Side Clasico (mozz, Berkshire sausage, mushroom, green pepper, onion). More of a thin-crust pizza kind of person? There's the East Loop (mozz, roasted chicken, mushroom, red onion, and basil pesto); Central West End (mozz, prosciutto, goat cheese, tomato, red onion, and arugula); and Miami-centric SoFi pie with ricotta cream, clams, bacon, minced garlic, chili flakes, and Italian parsley. A special Cubano pie with mozzarella and Swiss, pulled Cuban pork, yellow mustard, ham, and dill pickles is also available (thin-crust or deep-dish). You can also customize your pie. Prices range from $16 for a small (nine-inch deep-dish or 12-inch thin-crust) to $24 for a large (12-inch deep-dish or 16-inch thin-crust).

Desserts include key lime cheesecake, chocolate skillet cake, and a slice of Pi apple pie with cornmeal crust, crumb topping, and your choice of ice cream.

Follow Carla on Twitter and Facebook.

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