First Bite is a look at, not a full review of, a new Charlotte-area restaurant:
The Food: Pizza is the stock in trade at this reimagining of Pierre Bader and Tim Groody's former Gateway Village place, town. Crusts are made with pizza aficionado/Johnson & Wales instructor Peter Reinhart's direction, and with a $50,000 pizza oven capable of cooking each pie in less than 3 minutes. Diners choose “classic” (white) or 12-grain, both made with local organically milled flour. Toppings range from organic tomatoes to salumi (cured meats) with the house cheese blend (mozzarella, parmesan, smoked mozzarella and white cheddar), figs, caramelized garlic and pine nuts – or you can create your own.
Our crusts were terrific and perfectly cooked, with crisp centers and a few tiny charred places, while flavors sparkled. We had a simple Margherita (mozzarella from Chapel Hill Creamery, plus the blend and basil and tomato) and a Bacon and Egg (gruyere, mozzarella, free-range eggs, arugula and guanciale bacon, which is unsmoked bacon made with pork cheeks – and fabulous). One significant quibble: Though I loved the yolk running all over the pie, much of the white was still clear. I expect this will be fixed soon with timing and tinkering.
The Look: Clean and contemporary, with rich dark woods and creamy modern lighting, this is as far from exaggerated Italian-American kitsch as it's possible to get.
The Servers: Ours chatted enthusiastically, was reasonably well-informed (though a little short on detail), and checked in with reliable consistency.
Details: 710 W. Trade St. uptown; 704-379-7555; www.dineatpietown.com. Lunch weekdays; dinner nightly; pizzas $10-$16; salads and panini $6.50-$10.