Review: Peel Wood Fired Pizza

first impression 
Everything about this spot on the ground floor of Clayton’s new 212 apartment building is impressive. The space is sophisticated with dark walls and plaid accents, and there’s a fairly quiet wraparound patio. Peel is owned by two local chefs who also have a brewery in O’Fallon, so there is plenty of innovative beer available. But the star is pizza, cooked in a Mugnaini oven fueled by Missouri oak, which yields crusts that are airy and chewy. In fact, the restaurant is named for pizza, since a ‘peel’ is the flat wooden board used to move the pies in and out of the oven.

wash it down:
If you want to sample Peel’s brews, you can get a flight of four 5-ounce tastes for $10. My favorite was the Belgian Strong Ale, which had lots of body and flavor. Next to it, the Cream Ale and Milk ‘n Honey tasted thin to me. The Thwarted Passion, a Kolsch ale with passionfruit, was tart almost to the point of being sour.

Peel has sports-bar bustle with large TVs, and there’s an L-shaped bar in the main room plus a lively dining room. I appreciate that the tables aren’t on top of each other. And the food, in particular the pizza, is outstanding and a good value. While I don’t usually like sharing my night out with sometimes-noisy families, it didn’t bother me here.

must try
» peel brewing co. mussels: $12.99; These are steamed in a delicious broth of the company’s own Belgian Strong Ale, herbs, garlic, shallots and butter. In flavor it’s buttery and hoppy, and the PEI mussels are sweet little treats. The appetizer comes with a good-sized baguette.
» wood-fired cauliflower: $8.99; Don’t miss this tray of florets charred by an open flame, their earthy flavor piqued by garlicky breadcrumbs and red pepper harissa.
» trio pizza: $14.49; This pizza was delicious and not ‘over-topped.’ The three porks—coppa ham, Italian sausage and pepperoni—didn’t overwhelm the tomato sauce, mozzarella and amazing crust. This pie covered all the bases: creamy (mozzarella), spicy (pepperoni), herby (fresh oregano) and fatty (sausage).
» wild mushroom pizza: $13.79; This pizza features a delicious base of fontina, parmesan cream and white truffle oil. It’s like eating a subtle, gourmet alfredo dish.
» shrimp scampi pizza: $14.99; This pizza was the star of the meal. It came with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic-chive butter and gremolata with excellent pink gulf shrimp. The garlic enhanced the fresh sea flavor, mozzarella and butter added a soft flavor, and tomatoes provided acidic punch.
» seafood paella: $31; There are several paellas on the menu. This one was really good, with an entire lobster tail plus shrimp and mussels. It had plenty of saffron, and the Spanish Calasparra rice had a pleasant nutty quality.
» strawberry shortcake: $4.99; This dessert was not over-the-top. It had a judicious layer of whipped cream inside a sliced shortcake, and the flavor was good, but the dish wanted more berries.

the dish | Grecian pizza: Feta cheese, fresh vegetable toppings

208 S. Meramec Ave., Clayton | 314.696.2515