Pizza has always played a part in the morning food scene, but it’s been a supporting role, one relegated to the tin foil-wrapped shadows where all food is cold, leftover and consumed by those standing in front of open refrigerators. And while there will forever be a time and a place for desperation breakfast pizza, we as a society cannot, in good conscience, keep it in the margins of our mornings. Let this weekend, and every weekend henceforth, mark the beginning of a brunch pizza revolution.
Every good pizza revolution needs a pizza revolutionary; a Cheese Guevara, so to speak. And while Pie Tap Pizza Workshop has not instituted sweeping pizza reform, it has certainly helped set pizza on that most coveted road to brunch infamy — the one littered with chicken and waffles and eggs Benedict.
It has helped pizza by first opening two locations — one off of Henderson and one in the Design District — in super hip areas. This is important because these locations’ proximity to other, cool places increases the likelihood that the sort of people who go to see and be seen will in fact see people with strands of cheese hanging from their chins at 10 a.m., and will be inclined to become brunch pizza vanguards in kind.
It should be noted that Pie Tap’s brunch menu features two pies, while the rest of the space is dedicated to non-pie: French toast, biscuits and gravy, oatmeal, an omelet, etc. All fine and well, of course, but these things are decidedly not pizza and therefore are not helpful in the revolution.
What are helpful? Crust dissertations. The Pie Tap makes their dough from a starter they affectionately dubbed "Romo." The result is a thin crust that provides a great chew: yielding, but with enough resistance to know you're noshing on a piece of Italian history. The crust takes on a slightly different form depending on the toppings it carries. In the case of the smoked salmon pie it becomes more crisp and cracker-like, while the eggs Florentine pie's runny yolks result in a floppier, more supple undercarriage. Either way, each pie feeds about two normal people or one brunch reporter with ambition.
The smoked salmon pie ($17) proved to be a salty, briny affair, layering smoky salmon and sea-kissed capers. These sharp, palate-grabbing accents were tempered by streaks of ricotta studded with lemon rind, flecks of grated, cured egg yolk and a few crisp tendrils of red onion. In appearance, the yolk looked like a daffodil-tinted snow flurry; in taste it lent a faint umami flavor. All of this rested upon a lacy layer of cheese — one that baked up crisp and dark, making the finished product rich without being cheesy in the classical sense. It was a good pie, and one that deserved a bloody mary.
And why not get one? Drinks are cheap – just $5 for a mary, $4 for a frozen bellini and $3 for a mimosa. If you’re tired of orange juice flooded mimosas, opt for one of Pie Tap’s pineapple or blackberry mimosas, instead.
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The eggs Florentine ($14) proved to be a fair representation of its namesake breakfast dish, pulling fresh spinach, hollandaise and just enough house mozzarella together to create a simple but refined pie. Farm eggs cracked straight onto the toppings baked up beautifully, with fully set whites and yolks that remained precariously wobbly. Where the salmon pie was all about assertive flavors, the Florentine was its opposite, favoring the dulcet.
And so Pie Tap fights the good fight one bubbly crust at a time, acting to transform pizza from shame-breakfast to its rightful status symbol of brunch star.
Pie Tap Pizza Workshop + Bar, 2708 N . Henderson Ave. and 1212 Oak Lawn Ave. Brunch served 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.