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Pies on the Rise

Side Dishes: Positive Pie expands in Plainfield; New-Haven-style pizza comes to Woodstock


Published April 10, 2012 at 5:16 p.m.


The wait is over for food in the Plainfield space once home to the legendary River Run. Shuttered since last April, the spot is jumping once again thanks to some familiar faces. Positive Pie owner Carlo Rovetto, whose restaurant has long occupied half of the building, has expanded it to fill the remainder. The new, double-size eatery opened on Saturday night as Positive Pie Tap & Grill.

The original Positive Pie space remains relatively unchanged and will now operate primarily as an express take-out counter. The big attractions are reserved for the other side, says general manager Max Birnbaum. The dine-in area includes a full bar with 20 rotating craft beers on tap. The opening roster included Trapp Golden Helles Lager, Trout River Brewing’s Boneyard Barley Wine and two different beers from Hill Farmstead Brewery. Also on tap are Rookie’s Root Beer and Aqua Vitea kombucha. A creative cocktail list will debut by next week.

Along with the space, the menu has expanded from the pizza-and-wings selection of old. Now the focus is squarely on handcrafted dishes made from Vermont products. Diners can start with a plate of slow-roasted roots, including beets, baby carrots and fennel, paired with Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery chèvre, mint and olive-oregano vinaigrette. House-cured local pork belly finds its way into the PBLT sandwich, and the burger buns are all homemade.

All the signature pizza pies are available, on conventional or gluten-free crusts, but so are more elegant entrées in the mold of Montpelier’s Positive Pie 2. Choices include Roman-style gnocchi with spicy pork sausage, broccoli rabe and local oyster mushrooms in Amaretto cream sauce; and classic Italian chicken under a brick.

Farther south, in Woodstock, residents can look forward to a pizza revolution of their own. Stacey Velardi, owner of the Daily Grind Café, will open PI Brick Oven Trattoria as soon as Memorial Day. “We’re shooting for a thin-crust Napoletana pizza,” says Velardi. Her greatest inspirations, she notes, are the brick-oven pies at Sally’s Apizza and Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, Ct.

Velardi says white-clam pies like those served in New Haven are sure to grace the menu, as will an arugula-topped pizza. Good raw materials are essential to a great pie, and Velardi plans to use imported San Marzano tomatoes in her sauce, as well as house-grated, long-aged cheeses. The giant brick oven arrived last week via crane through the restaurant’s picture window.

Already the owner of a bakery, Velardi never has desserts far from her mind. Pi will feature homemade gelato, as well as “Italian pastries and other delicacies,” says the owner. All without a trip to New Haven.

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