Project Pie, a custom built artisanal pizza concept from the United States, officially opens its first Asian and Philippine branch this week. Make your way to 515 Shaw in Mandaluyong to get dibs on their thin crust pizza pies made fresh daily, and have them built your way!
Project Pie Philippines, now open in 515 Shaw, Mandaluyong
Inside Project Pie
Project Pie founder James Markham is currently in town to oversee the brand's first branch overseas, and I learned from Cito Martelino, General Manager of Project Pie Philippines, that soon they will open shop in Japan. Markham's passion for pizza began professionally as early as 2008, when he featured custom-built pizzas with a restaurant prototype. He then launched another custom-built pizza concept which was labeled 'MOD' or Made On Demand. He is also the founder of Pieology, another pizza concept in Seattle. Fast forward to the last quarter of 2012, Markham opened his first Project Pie in Las Vegas. What Manila can now experience in 2013 is how it is in the Project Pie locations in the States: fast casual pizza, made fresh by an engaging team, assembly line style. As customer engagement is a highlight in this restaurant, they do not have a delivery service. "You can either dine in or build pizzas for takeaway," Martelino explains, "we are very excited to see Filipinos interact with our partners in creating their own pizzas and going through the entire customization process." Aside from the signature assembly line style that gets your order done in just a few minutes, Martelino says the look and feel inside Project Pie Philippines is just how it is in other Project Pies -- hip, slick, fun, and always welcoming.
Design, Build, Eat
At Project Pie, you can order a personal sized pizza by number (P285) (seven pre-designed topping combinations to choose from; Classic Cheese Pie costs P245), or build your own (P285) from the sauce up to the many toppings. It's easy to get overwhelmed when you see all the toppings on display by the assembly line counter, and the partners (your friendly crew of assembly line folks) are quick to help you out with a smile. "You can start with a number that you like, then add on toppings if you want," one partner suggested to me. After a few moments of debating with my companions, we decided that our first Project Pie pizza should be a fully 'kustom' one. And on to the assembly line our pizza goes!
Step by step (ooh baby!): your made-on-demand pizza goes through an assembly line
A partner is assigned for your pizza sauce to go with the dough, then hands you over to another partner for your cheeses of choice. Afterwards, another partner takes charge of the toppings, such as the meats and herbs, before they pop it in the oven and your payment at the cashier. All throughout this quick and engaging process, they call you by first name and explain the toppings, if some ingredients seem unfamiliar to you.
Toppings (and drinks) to go with your pizza
Let the lights guide you
Pizza's done in two minutes or less!
After you pay for your order, it takes just a couple of minutes for your pizza to be cooked, and they call out your name by the counter once it's ready. Then grab your pizza, and some napkins and utensils at the stand, and you're good to go and eat!
Create your craving: Build your own pizza at Project Pie
Our evening's first Project Pie creation looked extremely photogenic with different colors and textures. One companion requested for pineapples, and the other requested for bacon; I wanted different cheeses. The result? A beautiful, personal sized thin crust pizza made with extra virgin olive oil, mozzarella and gorgonzola, bacon bits and slices of ham, button mushrooms, pineapple chunks, garlic, and basil.
Project pie's thin crust custom pizza dough
Your name and toppings are written on the paper; save it for future reference or create new combinations on your next visit
I learned from the General Manager that Project Pie's pizza dough is also one of a kind, using a signature flour that is unique to Project Pie pizzas. Their thin crust pizzas are not oily, and have this delicate balance of chewy and crisp with every bite. If you hold a slice with one hand, it will not fold over due to an overload of toppings. Another thing that the Project Pie founder emphasizes on their artisanal pizza is not to bombard a beautiful pizza pie with too many toppings, so you will also observe that the partners at the assembly line spread out the toppings evenly and lightly. Balance is the key.
No time to 'kustomize'? Choose among pre-designed pies. Here's Number 2!
Our other pie for the evening is a pre-designed combination. We split the Number 2 (P285) for three people to try out a classic combination of signature red sauce, pepperoni, mozzarella, Italian sausage, garlic, and crumbled meatballs. Meatlovers ought to order this no-fail topping mix, and can even up the ante by adding more meaty toppings like bacon and grilled chicken onto the pie.
"Oh, you should also try our dessert pizza," Cito says with a big smile. We three ladies never say no to dessert (our weakness, really), and next thing you know, we have this gorgeous Nutella & Banana (P145) pizza on our table.
Nutella & Banana
I've had the banana-nutella combination before, as crepes and parfaits and lazy homemade desserts (peel and chop a banana, grab a bottle of nutella, voila!), but never as pizza. The warm, toasty slices were excellent, and if I had not eaten pizza earlier, I bet I could finish off the dessert pizza on my own!
"Soon, we'll offer other toppings. We'll even have a dessert pizza with mangoes!" Cito shares. Mmmm, mango pizza. The possibilities are endless with Project Pie, and I cannot wait to return and create my own pizzas again!
Project Pie opens to the public today and is open from 10am to 10pm daily. Visit the first Philippine branch at 515 Shaw, 1555 Laurel Street corner Shaw Boulevard, Wack Wack, Mandaluyong. It's right beside Starbucks and across the street from the S&R Shopping Warehouse being constructed (formerly Cherry Foodarama).