Review: Humble Pie
This quaint Ladue eatery, opened by Jess and Mark Lucas of Fozzie’s Sandwich Emporium in Richmond Heights, has moved into the spot formerly occupied by L Pizza, in the Granaway Shops on Clayton Road. But they’ve reconfigured everything. The entrance is in an inside corridor, right next to Companion Baking, and though it’s not exactly ‘dine-in,’ there is a dine-on shelf outside and two patios available for al fresco dining.
The attractive brick patio normally jammed with Companion lunch patrons is available, as well as a patio at the old L Pizza entrance. At dinnertime, which is the only time Humble Pie is open, they are peaceful and idyllic. Mark Lucas is a bona fide chef, trained at Johnson & Wales culinary school, and his sandwich spot garnered national attention when he was named one of Food & Wine’s 20 Best Sandwich Chefs to Know in 2012. He’s dedicated to ‘small batch, organic doughs,’ as his menu states, and to creative, well-conceived combinations for his pizzas and salads. Everything is house-made, from the tomato sauce to the crusts, and pizzas are available in three sizes and two crust options: thin or Sicilian.
My thin-crust Margherita ($13.95 to $19.95) was delicious on all counts. The crust, paper thin, was crisp and while tasty, did not get in the way of the subtle toppings of this Italian classic. The stars here were a bright, acidic tomato sauce, slow-simmered with San Marzano tomatoes; garden-fresh basil (the place actually has herb and tomato plants out front!); and creamy cheese melted to release its fat. Topping all that was a light sprinkling of pink Himalayan salt, which coaxes a little more flavor out of the cheese.
Also a winner is the Humble Supremo ($14.95 to $21.95), which is anything but humble. It’s got everyone’s favorite meat toppings—pepperoni, sausage and bacon—plus black olives, portobello mushrooms and green peppers. Meaty and flavorful, it’s a great meat-lover’s option. The sausage is rich and mild in flavor; the bacon is thick and well-crisped; and the pepperoni has lots of bite, almost too much.
There are no fewer than nine salad offerings here, and while receiving your salad in a carryout container is not the most appealing notion, our Herb-A-Voire salad ($4.95 or $8.50) was excellent. Once we tossed it with the accompanying citrus champagne vinaigrette, the toasted seeds—pumpkin, flax and sunflower—and dried cherries came to the fore and really complemented the mix of peppery herbs: cilantro, basil, mint and parsley.
Maybe the most creative pizza on the menu, the Vegan Bahn Mi ($15.95 to $22.95), was the proverbial ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ dish. It was packed with interesting flavors: pickled onions, radishes, cilantro, jalapeño, red pepper flakes, crushed peanuts, sriracha, tofu, kimchi and coconut milk. Sounds awful, but it was very tasty. The tofu and peanuts gave it some gravitas, and all those flavors combined for a full-out Asian meal. We ordered this one on the Sicilian crust, which is thick with very crisp bottom and sides. It stood up to the heftier toppings, but I found it too oily at the edges and not nearly as good as other Sicilian crusts I’ve had.
the scene | Charming neighborhood pizza parlor
the chef | Mark Lucas
the prices | $14 to $23 pizzas, $5 to $9.25 salads, $6 mini pies
the favorites | The Humble Margherita, The Vegan Bahn Mi, The Humble Supremo, Herb-A-Voire Salad, Salted Caramel Apple Pie
9783 clayton road | 314.997.7070
Pictured: The ARTichoke pizza, marinated artichokes, artichoke cream, fresh arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, shaved fennel, fontina and shaved parmesan
Photos: Bill Barrett