An acclaimed Dallas pizza restaurant is spinning off a new concept that will make it faster and easier to get your artisan pie. Called PT Neighborhood Pizzeria, it's a sibling to Pie Tap, the small pizzeria chain founded by veteran restaurateur Rich Hicks, but with an innovative approach to service that takes fast-casual to the next level.
PT has debuted at 5715 Lemmon Ave., in the former Ming Place China Bistro at Inwood Road, where it's serving pizza — whole pies and by the slice — plus salads, sandwiches, and starters such as pepperoni puffs and truffle fries.
The menu has only a few similarities to Pie Tap. But one thing the two concepts definitely share is Pie Tap's signature pizza dough, which creates the light, crisp, and supremely flavorful crust for which they're known.
Hicks founded Pie Tap in 2016, debuting in Dallas' Design District, with a menu created by Giovanni Mauro, a veteran pizzaiolo who has owned restaurants such as Old School Pizzeria and Nora's Wine Bar in Las Vegas; he and Hicks worked together at Romano's Macaroni Grill.
Mauro, who just won a Reader's Choice award for best pizza in Las Vegas, is also overseeing the culinary program at PT. He's the mastermind behind the dough, which uses a proprietary starter and ferments for many days, a process that's key to creating the toasty yeasty notes in the crust.
Joining Hicks to help roll PT out is Alex Urrunaga, former brand officer at Plan B Group, who worked with Hicks to develop the original Pie Tap concept. (They've since opened three Pie Tap locations, on Henderson Avenue, in Addison, and in Plano.)
Urrunaga says he's excited for the opportunity to help PT grow. They plan to open 10-12 locations in the next three years, which will include both the original Pie Tap and the new PT Neighborhood Pizzeria concept.
"I don't think there's anything out there like this," Urrunaga says. "We don't think anyone has elevated the slice pie shop, and that's our goal. We have a great dough at Pie Tap and we'll use that as a foundation of what we're doing at PT, as well."
The menu features six pizzas:
- Margherita with tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella
- Classic combo, with sausage, pepperoni, black olive, caramelized onion, mushroom, and bell pepper
- Proscuitto-arugula, with smoked mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, pistachio, dates, tomato, arugula, prosciutto, and date cream
- Carnivore, with sausage, pepperoni, chicken meatballs, ham, and bacon
- Five-cheese pesto, with smoked mozzarella, ricotta, parmigiano, pecorino-romano, pine nuts, and pesto cream
- Vegetarian, with tomato, olive, spinach, eggplant, onion, bell pepper, broccoli florets, and mushroom
There's also a build-your-own option, with dozens of choices for toppings, sauces, cheeses, and proteins.
The pizza comes in three sizes: from a 14-inch that serves 1-2 people to their largest pie, a 24-inch "Big AF," which serves 5-8. They offer a gluten-free crust, too.
Sandwiches include meatball sliders, an Italian grinder with deli cold cuts, a chicken sandwich, and a chicken-BLT. There's no pasta, but they have a full liquor license, with eight beers on tap, eight bottles of wine (by the glass or bottle), frose ("of course," Hicks says), and an "Italian margarita." And just for fun, there's cannoli for dessert.
But they're most excited about nailing the perfect slice, and that means a deck oven that will allow them to control the baking process so that the bottom of the crust is the right combination of soft and crisp.
At lunch, you can get a slice with a side of fries or a salad, for $9.
"A good pizza by the slice is a great attraction for lunch — we want to push the envelope and reinvent what pizza by the slice is like," Hicks says.
Their other major innovation lies in the realm of service and payment. That includes going cash-less, with a service model they describe as a combination of fast-casual and full-service.
"We're going to put our customer in control of their own experience," Urrunaga says. "Fast-casual is convenient but your experience is constantly interrupted. You go to the counter, order and pay, then you have to pick up your food. If you want a second drink, you have to go back through the line."
At PT, you get seated by a host and scan a code via your smart phone that ties into an ordering platform, where you order and pay — all while comfortably seated.
"With our system, if I want to order something else, I can do it from my phone, and enjoy the experience while I'm seated," he says. "I'd rather sit at a table than wait in line. It's an uninterrupted experience. It's not fast-casual — it's 'smart-casual.'"