The Italian Pie Shoppe of St. Paul moves on up

By Charlie White

[img_assistfid=63thumb=1alt=Pie Shoppecaption=The Italian Pie Shoppe will now be within easy walking distance from campus with its new location at 1670 Grand.]

For all of those in the area who are fond of a good pie (pizza pie, that is), the following news will be most endearing indeed: The Italian Pie Shoppe in St. Paul, which has served pizza at a location virtually inaccessibly far down Grand Avenue since March of 1984, will have moved to a new location as of Thurs. Feb. 9 at 1670 Grand, next to what was previously Grand Avenue Hardware.

Although the Pie Shoppe’s new location at 1670 Grand may appear much smaller than their old one at 777 Grand, owner James E. Basta Sr. claims this to be purely deceptive. “It’s a very narrow and long building, we don’t have to downsize at all,” he explained. “We’re going to get almost the same seating, maybe losing just 8 or 10.”

The Pie Shoppe will continue to offer what it always has at its new location – pizza, sandwiches, deserts, and a variety of beer and wine. Customers will still be able to eat in, carry out, and get deliveries. But if so little is going to be changing about the Pie Shoppe, why move at all?

Basta explained that when they sold their old building, their goal was to find a location in the area that would allow them to keep their loyal regular customers as well as pick up some new ones. “We went to the next trendiest place we could find, right in the heart of Macalester College,” said Basta. “We weren’t familiar with colleges when we were so far down the avenue. We were in the bar district, and wanted to be in a more residential area. This way we’re close to [Macalester], Saint Thomas, Saint Kate’s… and they all drink beer and eat pizza, so it’s a good deal for us.”

I had the incredible honor of dining at the Italian Pie Shoppe late on the very last night they were open at their previous location, Sunday Feb. 5. Due to the need to move everything from that building to the next, the place was more or less in shambles. However, that didn’t stop the good old fashioned pizza pie from being tasty.

Upon arriving, we were greeted in a friendly manner and seated ourselves at a large booth sporting aesthetic old newspapers under the glass table top. Looking around, the walls were very bare. This was obviously an establishment geared toward its family oriented and casual atmosphere, which it very much lacked at the moment other than a lone electric guitar hanging above the front window and a few framed newspaper articles here and there.

When we were waited on, we were brought three sets of silverware and, strangely enough, only one napkin which I assumed to be the only remaining napkin in the building. To my amusement, we were later accommodated with a roll of paper towels. Our pizza of choice also happened to be the editors of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine’s choice, so we had some high expectations. The “original white pizza,” as it was called, consisted of a thin and crispy crust (excellent) topped with several different cheeses as well as a tasty mix of spices, garlic, and olive oil. The delicious pizza (although the oil was slightly excessive) quickly made up for the lack of interesting objects and pictures on the wall, all of which were taken down and packed away by the time we left. The price was right too—we managed to only spend about $16 dollars among 3 people, and still had to ask for a box for what was left of our pizza.

Now that the Shoppe is within even a lazy person’s walking distance from campus, the pies and brews it offers are much more accessible for our enjoyment. Although it seems somewhat family oriented with all of its trinkets, not to mention the fact that it is owned by a family, it has a lot to offer cheap college students with its pizza, sandwiches, and plenty of beer.