Sauce + Crust = Pi Artisan Pizzeria’s enticing Italian pies

Owners Debbi and Stuart Katz enjoy the Surf’s Up pie with housemade mozzarella and handcrafted cocktails on the shady outdoor lanai. Pi Artisan Pizzeria photo

To math-minded readers, “pi” is all about being part of an equation. But to me, it adds up to Pi Artisan Pizzeria in Lahaina, which hand crafts fine savory pies with fresh dough and as much local produce and meats as possible.

The thin Italian pizzas are then baked in an 800-degree kiawe-wood burning oven and they get to your table fast.

And what views the tables have. Pi is in the Outlets of Maui mall in Lahaina across from the ocean with sweeping views from Molokai to Lanai.

You may choose to sit outdoors on the shady lanai to watch the street and marine action, or opt for the cool, air-conditioned inside dining room.

“We have an amazing ocean view off of Front Street with a modern and inviting environment for both locals and visitors alike,” says Debbi Katz, who owns Pi with husband Stuart Katz.

You may also savor cheese bread;

The Katzes were part of the original team of investors who opened Pi in August of 2014 with a different concept in which you walked up to the line to order your food that was then brought to you.

The team sold Pi to Robert Blu of Koa’s restaurant fame. He changed the name to Maui Ano’s, but to keep the liquor license, Blu had to display the Pi name outdoors on the sign and it was confusing.

The Katzes returned to take over in April of 2016 and now run with the sit-down menu concept started by Blu.

“We changed it back to the original menu items,” adds Debbi, whose favorite pie is the Surf’s Up with pesto sauce, chopped roasted garlic, shrimp, spinach, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts and mozzarella that is made fresh in house.

“Our flour, prosciutto and pepperoni are all from Italy,” says Debbi. “Our recipes are all Italian, too. We get a lot of compliments. Great reviews. We also do a gluten-free crust and it took us awhile to get it right, but now we have a wonderful gluten-free crust.”

Caprese salad; and

The couple formerly owned the Village Cafe & Sweet Shop in Kapalua, now the site of Taverna. They run the nonprofit Beyond the Rainbow Foundation that raises money for Maui’s youth through a golf tourney held annually. They have tech backgrounds and are enthused by Pi.

“Now we have beer taps and local brews,” says Stuart. “Six out of 10 taps are Hawaii beers. We recently added Kona Brewing’s Kona Longboard.”

Of course, one of the Katzes’ upgrades is getting the beer to a colder temperature than it was before.

“One of the things we like is our cold beer,” says Stuart. “Our new glycol cooling system keeps the beer in the line from the keg room nice and cold.”

Handcrafted cocktails were created by original partner Bert Noury and they remain popular today. Sip the Blue Lavender Fizz, a refreshing lemonade with blueberry vodka, house lavender syrup and fresh blueberries; or the Kaffir Ginger Sour, Rosemary Thyme or the Bango.

happy hour meat balls with sauce and melted cheese. Pi Artisan Pizzeria photos

Happy hour is daily and Pi pours select beers for $4, handcrafted cocktails for $6 and wines on tap for 25 percent off. Can’t decide? Try one of three beer flights and one of six wine flights.

“All of our wines are on tap. That allows us all kinds of pours such as 5 and 9 ounces, and half and full carafes, eliminating bottle waste,” Stuart says.

Most of the crunchy salads come in two sizes, such as Caesar, house, chicken salad and Pi salad. The Caprese and the antipasto platters are popular starters, too, as are the massive meatballs, the spinach dip and the ahi bruschetta.

Live music gets you tapping your feet on Mondays and Fridays; and DJ Zinn gets you in the groove to dance on Wednesdays — all from 6 to 9 p.m. The dance floor is on the ocean side of Pi.

The patio space on the mall side of Pi is used for activities and groups. It boasts two TVs and right now, Debbi hosts an art class and she’s hoping to have a trivia night and launch other fun activities.

“Sure, we own a pizza parlor with a great view. But ‘artisan’ is in the name and we want to take advantage of that by engaging the patio space.”

Keiki 12 and younger will enjoy pizza or spaghetti for $6.

Diners get four hours of free validated parking at the Outlets of Maui and it’s fun to check out sales at stores such as Brooks Brothers, Coach and more.

Pi Artisan Pizzeria at a glance

• Where: Located oceanfront at 900 Front St. in the Outlets of Maui mall in Lahaina.

• Hours: Open from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily and for happy hour from 3 to 5 p.m.

• Happy hour pupu: Garlic knots are $3; Pi cheese bread, $4; sausage or pepperoni pizza rolls, $5; and small meatballs with sauce and housemade mozzarella, $5. Drinks are discounted as well.

• Pi + Club: Rewards program for frequent diners. Food and beverages are each assigned a point value and for every 200 points, you get a $25 credit for future purchases.

• Dine and dance: DJ Zinn fills the Pi dance floor from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays. You may also listen to live music by Scot Freeman Mondays and Danyel Alana Fridays.

• For more details: Call 667-0791 or visit www.pi808.com

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