My first experience at a Pies and Pints was after an intense whitewater rafting trip in Fayeteville, West Virginia. The pitchers of good (no, great) Bridge Brew Works local beer and the large, freshly handmade pizzas were a perfect treat after paying good money to risk death. The new location of Pies and Pints in The Shops at Worthington Place takes my first experience up several notches. I’ve been there thrice since its opening in early November, and I’ve been equally impressed and stuffed after leaving each time. Pies and Pints, whose aptly coined slogan “Get Some” coincidentally matches my favorite quote on Facebook, does pizza and beer very well.
The exterior of Pies and Pints is bright orange and green with huge windows offering plenty of light to show off the interior. As you enter you’re greeted on the right by a large white elephant painted on the wall, on the left by a wall covered in the Pies and Pints logo and “Get Some!” T-shirts, and a host stand manned by a team of eager servers. A great big ole list of bottles as well as the three dozen taps are impressive, and every server does a great job of being (or pretending at least to be) genuinely excited to have you join them for dinner. The decor is modern industrial with Edison bulbs, exposed ductwork and steel everywhere. Plenty of high tables and booths fill the large space, and each time I’ve been most of them were occupied by happy customers.
The beer menu describes the different styles and each draft beer very well, and it seems like a rare gem to me to see good beers (Belgians, American craft beers, hard-to-find IPAs) offered in pitchers, especially for a reasonable price. A few televisions hang on the walls amid large pieces of simply framed art. Pies and Pints welcomes boozers and babies alike, and the times I’ve enjoyed dinner there have featured a good mix of all ages.
I had a chance to talk with Ryan Heastings, the Pies and Pints Beer Czar, and he explained that he’s got some huge plans for the Worthington location. Heastings is a Certified Cicerone through the Cicerone Certification Program, and he’s in charge of deciding what Pies and Pints carries. Heastings is proud of the beer selection at the new Worthington location as there’s much more flexibility than the initial locations in West Virginia with availability of beers and differences in beer laws. With 36 beers on drafts, it’s amazing to think that only two of those beers, Great Lakes and PBR, are actually available in West Virginia. The flexibility with beer in Columbus clearly has Heastings excited, and he intends to grow the bottle selection and include a frequently rotating list of one-off beers. Heastings’ favorite style is sour, which works great for me as a huge fan of the Flemish sour Duchesse De Bourgogne.
Every server seemed very knowledgeable about the beer list and could accurately describe the beers on draft. A few of the beers we requested happened to be off at the time, and the bartenders and servers all knew very well how to offer related styles. At the beginning of the dinner shift Heastings held a lengthy staff meeting near us to describe new beer offerings, and he mentioned to us that his goal is to have every server and bartender have the beer knowledge to accurately describe all offerings. The goal is to focus the bottle selection on rare bottles, especially high ABV beers that age well so someone knows that even if it’s been sitting there for a while, it’s been cared for. The owner, Rob Lindeman, is a wine lover, and the list of both by the glass and by the bottle wines is affordable and frankly delicious. (Mmmmm….Malbec.)
In our first trip we tried the rosemary and roasted garlic flatbread served with warm goat cheese and a balsamic reduction glaze. Our very nervous server (so so nervous–the poor girl had her first night of serving on a media night!) warned us that the flavors of this flatbread were pretty strong, and it’s clear that they’ve learned through finicky eaters that they might as well offer a warning rather than deal with the blowback. Regardless, once I had a chance to slather the garlicky triangles of flatbread with the goat cheese, I was a fan. I had a chance to try the char-grilled wings served with creamy gorgonzola dressing on a second trip, and the char flavor came through in the best way possible.
On my third trip with the intention of being healthy I ordered the spinach salad, which was a mound of barely visible greens covered with red onions, grapes and sunflower seeds, and of course large chunks of gorgonzola everywhere. If you love gorgonzola, you’ll love Pies and Pints, because it. Is. EVERYWHERE. The salad wasn’t my healthiest dinner, but it was definitely delicious.
The pizza is amazing. The nice thin crust is perfectly crispy, and all of the pizzas I’ve tried featured phenomenal toppings. Large pizzas can be ordered half and half, so with only three visits I’ve managed to work my way through most of the 18 different specialty pies. (Yes, I am a complete pig. Deal with it.) The Grape Pie featuring red grapes, gorgonzola and rosemary is their most exalted as it’s been mentioned on both the Food Network and the Cooking Channel. But the star of the show for me and the husband is the Cuban Pork Pie. Pulled pork cured for six hours, caramelized onions, pineapples, jalapenos, feta, cilantro and creme fraiche sealed the deal pretty easily. I’m also a huge fan of the Chicken Gouda with smoked gouda chunks and the Chipotle Chicken Pie with a nice level of spice. While I wouldn’t necessarily think to order it, the Classic Pizza Pie with standard toppings like sausage and pepperoni is pretty impressive as well. Also gluten-free crusts are available for those of you who aren’t flour fanatics.
The product and execution of Pies and Pints is well done. I’ve spoken with the owner a few times, and he comes off as a very genuine, nice man who truly loves his pizza. (After my husband and I devoured a large in less than 10 minutes he admitted to doing the same thing the previous night with a Margherita Pie.) The Beer Czar knows his beers, and he’s brought a fantastic selection to the Worthington location. And the servers seem authentically eager to please customers. At least one server we spoke with moved to Columbus with the company, and most of the team members have good senses of humor. And a sidebar, well done on the social media, guys. Within five minutes of checking in on Foursquare, Pies and Pints tweeted at me asking what was for dinner. And my dorky self eats that sort of social media response right up.
Small 10″ pizzas cost around $11 and 16″ larges are roughly $22, which is a decent deal for the heaping tower of toppings that comes with each. If you’re not into pizza, there’s a decent selection of sandwiches and salads, and if you’re super picky about your pizza, you can custom make them to your crazy whims. Although I highly recommend choosing a specialty concoction since they’re all so well done.
Pies and Pints found itself in Worthington due to the owner’s ties to Columbus as well as Worthington seeming to be a city that could support a good beer and pizza restaurant. The Beer Czar’s goal is for all of front of house staff to have earned at least the level of Certified Beer Server in the Cicerone Certification program, and his hope is that his staff becomes so beer educated that he can be more or less obsolete in training. He frequently gives servers and bartenders pop quizzes on beers in an ongoing effort to achieve beer knowledge perfection. His hope is to keep the server knowledge on par with the quality of the drafts on tap, which is setting the bar high.
Delicious food, great atmosphere, friendly service and an impressive beer selection make Pies and Pints a great spot for lunch, dinner or nighttime fun. To second their motion, I recommend that if you haven’t already, you “Get Some.”