You have got to admit that it is rather unusual to see a place in Alabama, or anywhere in the Deep South for that matter, regularly show up in lists of the best pizza spots in America. Well, after seeing Birmingham AL’s Post Office Pies show up several times now, it has been on the Pizza Snob’s radar ever since. A visit to POP fits right in with one of our trips to the Florida Panhandle and after a few passes, the plan was set that Mrs. Pie and I would finally stop there for dinner late last year on our way back home.
Leaving Florida after our week at the beach, once the car entered Interstate 65 heading north towards Music City, I called POP to be certain that they were open for dining in. During our last drive by earlier in the year, COVID had them doing takeout only and I really wanted to have a full experience at a place with such positive pizza potential.
The good news this time was that they were open, and they said we would easily find seating right away at the mid-afternoon hour. However, when I asked how far they were off the Interstate, my helper wasn’t so helpful and didn’t know. Well, the GPS assured me that they were only a few miles off the highway but getting there in a flash would be an issue for another unexpected reason.
BTW – POP has two locations in the Birmingham area. The original spot is in the part of town known as Avondale and the other is a mere five miles away in a spot called Mountain Brook. My sights were of course on the original place with a desire to see how an old post office was turned into a pizza joint.
The Snob was at the wheel and my eyes were in check with my GPS and starting at about 90 minutes out, I excitedly watched the estimated minutes to our arrival clock down. But as we got just one minute away and could even see the place, we were suddenly stopped at a railroad crossing. After waiting it out for over 20 minutes, cars started making U-turns and we decided to do the same. We therefore took the challenge of trying to make our way around the long train that was stopped and going nowhere. Remarkably, we maneuvered to the other side of the tracks, and as would be expected, just after parking in a pay lot in the rear of POP ($1 per hour), we saw the train start to move!
Putting aside the good half hour we wasted, Mrs. Pie and I took seat at a pleasant table outside on this lovely afternoon. On the inside, I scoped out the big open seating area, two wood-burning ovens and a long bar where distanced folks watched a college football game. We each ordered our own pies and salads and waited in the fresh air while we saw the delivery guy do his thing and others come pick up pies.
As for the Avondale location, it really bears no resemblance to an old historic post office so don’t be disappointed. However, I can promise you this—the pizza won’t let you down. It’s fabulous! When a spot like this gets national attention, its usually a chef who makes superb dough for a Neapolitan pizza. While that in itself can be a good thing, I’m here to say that the POP offers that and more.
With a lot of pies going out the front door, ours took a while, but finally arrived after we enjoyed some really delish salads. Mine of course was the “Cheese” (large for $16) while Mrs. Pie went for something small and white. I immediately loved the way mine looked. Moderately cheesed and lightly sauced, it had a scrumptious looking crust with puffy handles, all covered with a handful of rather large basil leaves. I was joyed to see that it was no where near being labelled as “soggy” and had just enough oil in its mix for flavor.
I found the POP pie to be somewhat unique in the design of its crust foundation. While there were slight traces of char on the crust it wasn’t on the crisp side. Rather, the crust, especially the puffy ends was soft and delicate and very tasty; but not too soft for a good solid fold. The cheese and sauce were both delicious, but as I had anticipated, the POP pie should be acknowledged for its outstandingly delicious crust.
Happily finishing every morsel of my large pie, I was overcome with a feeling of joy. It’s such a treat when a featured place like POP lives up to its reputation and that a place in Alabama can get the attention it deserves. Pizza lovers need to put Post Office Pies on their pizza bucket. It’s worth it—even if you must deal with the obstacle of a train.
PIZZA SNOB RATING ****1/2 Nearer Perfection
Post Office Pies
209 41st Street South
Birmingham, AL 35222