It seemed that there had been a lack of hometown attention from the Nashville-based Pizza Snob. So after “blogging-up” the efforts of my recent pizza travels, it was time once again time to ruffle some local feathers. My first choice for a new victim had been staring me in the face for several months.
On my daily commute, I drive by Pie Five Pizza Co., a new and uninteresting-to-me “design your own” pizza restaurant. It sits at the end of a strip center on the north side of Cool Springs Boulevard. In a strike against it being anything special, Pie Five is a sister company of the Pizza Inn chain with 50 current locations on their way to 500 through franchising. Locally, they have this Franklin spot and sites in Donelson and Hendersonville.
My mission took place on a lovely cool July 3rd holiday afternoon. After studying the on-line menu together, I convinced Mrs. Pie to join me for some patriotic pizza and a salad. Being knowledgeable about this kind of place, we knew that what we would be getting into would be about as non-classic and untraditional as could be. But the salads looked decent, and hopefully the pizza would at least be tasty enough to satisfy my constant craving for the good old taste of tomato sauce and cheese.
Like my namesake location in Fort Worth, Pie Five is another place in the trend to be like Mexican food’s Chipotle. The scheme is for you to walk along the counter adding unnecessary toppings to create your own personally-designed pizza. Their 28 available toppings were even proudly displayed on their cute “Periodical Table of Toppings.” Pie Five also lets you pick from four different crusts and seven sauces. For those lacking a sense of adventure, there are some pre-designed pizza choices from which to choose.
Trying to “normalize” our pie as much as we could, we went with the “cheese pizza” which was described to have a blend of Mozzarella and provolone. Continuing in this vein, we chose the “crispy artisan thin” crust and the “Tuscan marinara” sauce. We added nothing to it receiving no discount for going topping-less. For $5.49 we got what looked to be a 10-incher that they cut into six uneven slices.
During assembly, Mrs. Pie got her usual urge to request less cheese, but I stopped her to allow my “let them make it” principle to apply. After a short journey along the conveyor-belt oven behind the counter, our pie was ready in just a few minutes.
Pie Five has spacious table seating inside, but on this pretty summer day we headed out to their awesome outdoor patio area that sits under the shady trees of the park adjacent to the Aspen Grove apartment complex.
After looking at our “plain as we could make it” pie, I felt optimistic since the crust was thin and looked crisp from the light char on its bottom. And as they used to say in Jersey when something was better than you expected, it wound up tasting “not bad!” But, this comment also implies that everything wasn’t all that good.
As usual, Mrs. Pie coined it perfectly: “It just didn’t have that pizza taste!” I agreed and blamed two things. First the provolone mixed in with the Mozzarella only served to throw the taste off. Next, the lack of any seasoning in the sauce really brought the flavor down. Good tomato sauce needs more than just sugar and tomatoes! On the other hand, Pie Five did manage to make a decent crust which they served up nice and crispy.
Surprisingly, we were still hungry and went back for another pie, this time going with Mrs. Pie’s “half the cheese” request. Overall, it may have fared somewhat better, but it still didn’t taste enough like traditional pizza for our satisfaction.
While a Pie Five pizza should never be considered to be a substitute for a good slice of classic pizza, it does work as a little appetizer on which to snack. As for their salad, I found mine somewhat dull and drab although it was cool how they served it in a bowl made from the tasty pizza crust. ‘Nuff said.
P.S. A funny aside to our visit was the stray cat on the patio that some kids were trying to feed pizza. Well, he wouldn’t eat it! Maybe he was from Chicago and preferred deep dish?
Pie Five Pizza Co.
401 B Cool Springs Boulevard Franklin, Tennessee 37067