Pie Five: First Tastes

pie five chicago

The contents in the manila folder changed each week in Mrs. T’s classroom. She would put a new mind bender problem in the folder. And each week, I would take the white sheet of paper and work toward finding a solution. Some of the sheets were easier than others. Many had logic problems where you’d have to make grids to figure out what color shirt Jim was wearing. Others were probability and permutation puzzles. At the bottom of every problem, Mrs. T. reminded us to show our work.

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Next to the folder pinned to the wall was a standings sheet listing the students with the most points. By attempting the problem, you could receive one point. If you arrived at the correct solution, you would tally two points. There was a greater goal than mere competition against your prepubescent peers. If you earned 50 points by the end of the year, you won a pizza party where you got your very own personal pan pizza, with whatever toppings you wanted.

As a kid, I loved pizza. What’s better than pizza? Free pizza.Some weeks I couldn’t figure out the solution or forgot to carry the two, so I only got one point. Week after week, I tried to devote time to the weekly challenge. By the end of the year, I reached the promised land of 50 points and a pizza party with my math teacher and two other math lovers. Go ahead and call me a nerd. All I know is I had my own pizza while you ate with the plebians.

Not much has changed since I was in eighth grade. I still love math. I do logic puzzles. I still love pizza. But, I really love free pizza.

Through my involvement in Yelp, I was invited to visit Pie Five in Naperville. The Dallas-based chain is expanding to the Chicagoland area. Pie Five takes a page from Subway and Chipotle’s success in the fast-casual dining arena. The concept is personalized pizzas in five minutes, but you don’t need to solve any math problems to get yours.

If you wanted to, here’s a combination problem for you.

You can choose from: 4 crusts, 7 sauces, 4 cheeses, 8 types of meat, 16 veggie toppings.

If you ate one pizza a day, and you never ate the same ingredient or crust twice, how many days would you be able to create a unique pie?

The possibilities are huge. The big upside for Pie Five is that no matter what you choose, the cost (about $7 plus tax) is the same (aside from an up charge for gluten-free crust). That’s a different approach to your standard pizzeria that charges and extra $3-4 each time you add toppings.

The parade of pizzas started soon after we sat down. They came out faster than I could eat them. With a mini silver disc serving as my plate, I tried to make room for each of the slices. I began stacking my slices and tried to remember which one was which. If you are super indecisive, they have suggested mixes of ingredients and crusts that you can select. You can check them all out here. The Yelpers at my table preferred the thicker-crusted pies, but everything was tasty and a pizza I would eat again. After the waves of sectors subsided, the regional marketing manager shared a few words about the business, pizzas and their mission.

Their big push, in line with a lot of market trends for being health conscious, is that everything is fresh or prepared on-site, from the dough to the chopped veggies. The other selling point is uber customization. They have a 500+ degree oven that quickly cooks the pizza to the perfect crisp/chew factor. After his talk, he invited us to make our own pizza. No one was clear that was going to happen, so gorging ourselves on the samples wasn’t the wisest decision.

The full pizza is about 6-7 inches in diameter. Pop quiz! What’s the surface area? One pizza should be enough to fill you up and they have salads if you’re looking for some extra fiber to fill out the rest of your meal.

pie five chicago

My pie from bottom to top was: thick pan crust, spicy marinara, pepperoni, mozzarella/provolone cheese, red onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, grilled chicken, a little cheddar cheese, then topped with fresh-torn basil after its pass through the oven. Building my own pizza reminded me of Sebastian Maniscalco’s routine on Subway.

Overall, the pizza is good. Solid crust options and a good sauce. You won’t need to fight with your friends about which toppings to get or break the bank loading up on toppings.

Whether or not you do logic puzzles while you wait for your pizza is up to you.