Project Pie - Design, Build, Eat

Pizza and a Restaurant called Project Pie

It’s funny how kids use school “projects” as excuse to stay out late in the evening and, more importantly, to get more funds from their parents. It’s funny because parents already know about this, having used the modus operandi when they were kids themselves. Papunta ka pa lang pabalik na kami, some parents say. Indeed, it is said that everything we need to learn, we learned in kindergarten. Projects, fortunately, are not among those we learn in kindergarden. Imagine this: the made-up projects in school are the template for “ghost projects” in government. Imagine the project to consist of birthday cakes or, in the case of Project Pie, pizza.

Here are 5 questions we’re stuck with after our visit to Project Pie.

Why not Project Pizza?

We are solid believers of Timon and Pumba‘s famous life principle of hakuna matata, which means no worries (sing it, “it means no worries for the rest of your days… it’s our problem-free philosophy, hakuna matata“), but truth be told, the name Project Pie has given us sleepless nights. If you decide to read further and risk having sleepless nights as well, at least you’ve been warned.

We’ve been a told million times that it’s not proper to say pizza pie. A pizza is a pie, so saying pizza pie is like saying pie pie, which is not entirely a bad thing because some pizza are so nice you have to say the name twice. But the convention is to simply call it pizza.

Now, there are different kinds of pie. If Bubba was able to finish the Vietnam War by telling Forrest Gump each and every shrimp dish there is, we’re pretty sure we can do the same with pie. Pie may come naturally after pizza but, sadly, pizza is not readily associated with pie. If we ask you to close your eyes and tell us what’s the first edible thing that comes to mind if we tell you PIE, we bet our apple pie if pizza would be first to come out of your hungry mouth.

Now let’s pretend you’re suffering from temporary amnesia and you have no idea that Project Pie primarily serves pizza. What would be your best guess if you’re asked, “what is Project Pie famous for?” You’d probably think of some pie, but never pizza. It’s confusing, we tell you. Why not simply call it Project Pizza? Why on Hawaiian’s pizza is it called Project Pie instead? We’re clueless right now. We just have to chalk it up to fun foodie mysteries which reveal themselves in their sweet time. It’s a continuing torture just like a hang nail that you can’t get out for one reason or another.  It’s like how the name Dinosaurs Island almost sounds right, but not quite. Comparable to wearing one’s favorite shirt inside out.

Oh, why give us sleepless nights, you Project Pie?

Where’s the dough?

What is Project Pie famous for? No, it’s not pizza (in our opinion). It’s something else. We’ll get to that in just a bit.

If you look at the logo of Project Pie, there are three words that orbit the name. The three words? Design. Build. Eat. We can see the “design” part because we had certain leeway in choosing the mix of toppings. We can also see the “eat” part because we consumed everything down to the last crunchy edge of that crust (wait a minute, what do you call the edge of the pizza crust?).

The puzzling part is the “build.” We’ll also get to that in a bit.

If you move your gaze from the logo to the slogan of Project Pie (is that even the slogan?), it says, “Everyday artisan pizza custom-built by you.” Notice the word “built”? That’s where our pain, and the sleepless nights, heightened.

Our journey to Project Pie started with a visit to the Slappy Cakes. You see, when you go visit the Slappy Cakes of Eastwood City, you’ll immediately notice — aside from the surprising fact that adults love pancakes as much as kids — is the presence of Project Pie right across the Slappy Cakes restaurant. We are unsure if Project Pie is always fully booked at Eastwood City but, at that time, this pizza joint was fully booked. This, however, is not the reason why we didn’t visit Project Pie. We had enough main course and pancakes at Slappy Cakes. It was impossible to visit Project Pie with a full stomach. We made a pact, over custom-built chocolate-chip pancakes we cooked ourselves, to visit Project Pie some other day. What got us doubly excited is the cheesy prospect of building and cooking our own pizza.

We’ll have the chance to actually do some serious dough action, custom-build our very own pizza with our own hands, and clumsily slide it into the hot oven. Imagine how fun that would be. Now, disabuse yourself of that imagination. It wasn’t long when we discovered that diners don’t get to build and bake the pizza with their own hands. Diners are free to choose the ingredients, yes, but the smiling crew happily does the work of preparing the pizza.

If we sound disappointed, it’s because we’re really disappointed. Don’t get us wrong; we love the place. It’s just that we’ve always imagined getting our hands dirty in preparing the dough and arranging the toppings. We would have wanted to actually build the pizza with our own hands. It doesn’t matter how it tastes — so long as the resulting pizza is the crunchy fruit of our labor. This do-it-yourself version of our pizza dream may not happen now, or next month, but it will happen. Why? Project Pie has to relent. When the novelty wears off and people realize the real deal about “building” your own pizza, what will the dining public demand next? Nope, not another referendum for the independence of Scotland. They’d ask Project Pie to please let them prepare their own pizza. You can never take away our, uhm, freedom…to build our pizza whichever way we like it. Let us do it. Please?

Is that really, really hot?

“Really, really hot,” reads the huge white words outside that shiny silver oven. Why would Project Pie exert effort to label its oven with “really, really hot”? Yes, we’re thinking the same thing — you’re thinking why we’re saying that we’re thinking of the same thing when we don’t know what you’re thinking. Kidding aside, when we saw that warning sign, we thought it’s there to warn customers who go near the oven and slide in their pizza masterpiece creations. We were wrong. No handle-your-own pizza.

And the Taste?

The beauty of Project Pie is the distinct draw of the place. The Eastwood City branch looks the similar to the Ayala Fairview Terraces branch so it’s not hard to conclude the this is the standard design of this pizza place. With high ceiling to highlight the open spaces, punctuated by the warm light bulbs and framed by the industrial concrete finish, it’s one clean place to do one thing: enjoy the pizza.

We’re not really in the habit of exploring and reviewing the entire menu of any restaurant. We didn’t even attempt to run through the entire menu of Project Pie, sticking to the tried and tested variants. Because there was nothing labelled as Hawaiian pizza, we started with the make-your-own pizza (this is, after all, a place for custom-built pizza) that could come close — throw in the requisite pineapple slices, green pepper and onion rings, then grudgingly allow the Project Pie crew to arrange the ingredients on top of the doubt and slam the entire thing into the hot oven.

There’s the Classic Cheese Pizza and the No. 2 Pizza (pepperoni). These varieties, we didn’t have to choose the ingredients because they come preset just like any other pizza parlors. For the kids, who could resist nutella? So we threw in the Banana Nutella Pizza and, to atone for all that pizza goodness, grab a pack of mixed green salad.

Why is there green salad in a place called Project Pie, you may be thinking. Exactly our thought. It’s a place that serves pizza and it would make absolute sense to call it Project Pizza, yet it’s called Project Pie.

Pizza toppings are pretty standard. Some pizza restaurants claim that it’s all about the fresh toppings. Probably right. The freshest toppings, however, are useless without a great crust. There’s a big pizza chain that serves great thin pizza, it’s standard fare. Then There’s also a bigger pizza chain that tried to copy the thin crust pizza, although it’s known more for its think-crust or pan pizza, but can’t quite get the thin pizza right. Project Pie, among the newcomers, does thin crust pizza just right. So, you see, we’re not about to write Project Pie off our choices simply because we were not able to build our own pizza. For one, and we’ll say this again with conviction, that day will come. Two, the pizza tastes good.

What is Project Pie known for?

So, if we’ve shown that other than choosing the toppings, you can’t really BUILD your own pizza, what is there to look forward to in Project Pie? Tough question.

It’s the good pizza in a fun atmosphere. It’s relaxed, allowing the guests to breathe and soak the pizza aroma. There’s an air of adventure over at the counter where the guests check the available toppings. It’s like, “Hmm, how adventurous are we today? Can we have green pepper swimming in nutella?” Perhaps Project Pie correctly figured out that guests would have a better chance of enjoying edible pizza if the preparation is left to the pros. Makes lots of sense, really. But, Project Pie, we’d still want to build our own pizza.

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