Thursday, May 11, 2017

Pizza Head Is Now Packing Them in on South Grand

Posted By on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 6:13 AM

click to enlarge Scott Sandler, in ballcap, behind the bar at Pizza Head on a busy Tuesday. - PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • Scott Sandler, in ballcap, behind the bar at Pizza Head on a busy Tuesday.
You might have thought the last thing South Grand needed was another restaurant — but you'd have been wrong.

Pizza Head (3196 S. Grand Boulevard, 314-266-5400), Scott Sandler's week-old New York-style pizza joint, has been packed almost since the moment it opened its doors. The "soft opening" May 3 drew a line around the block. They had to close early a few days later because they'd basically run out of dough. On Monday, Sandler posted an ad looking for additional help.

But hey, these are good problems to have, and Sandler knows it.

"It's an insane amount of business I didn't even imagine," admits Sandler. "At first we kind of got caught flat-footed. It has just totally been slammed."

Sandler's previous restaurant, a traditional (albeit meat-free) Neapolitan spot called Pizzeoli, opened in Soulard in 2014. Unlike that restaurant, Pizza Head is aiming for a super-casual, punk rock vibe — you order at the counter, either by the slice or a whole pie, and your drink choices are pretty much limited to cans of Stag, PBR on draft, or a soft drink. You can get a salad for $4, but your choices are simply ranch or Italian. It feels more like CBGB or Silver Ballroom than, say, Pi Pizzeria or PW.

But the South Grand area is clearly digging what Pizza Head is serving. Sandler, a perfectionist who labored to get the details of the pizza just right, modestly attributes interest in the place to pent-up demand in the neighborhood. Even though the area is famously filled with restaurants representing countries across the globe, he notes, "there's really no pizza — just Black Thorn and Domino's." And even if Black Thorn's deep-dish pies and dive bar setting suited every mood, the place famously has long waits of its own.

click to enlarge A cheese slice will set you back $3. - PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • A cheese slice will set you back $3.

Plus, notes Sandler, "The by-the-slice thing is a grand slam. People love pizza by the slice. We're doing a lot of whole pies, too, but these are big slices, and you can get two and a pint for $8, or two and a soft drink for $7 — I think that's a really good deal."

Clearly, his neighbors agree, and Sandler is doing everything he can to keep up with their interest. He believes that opening complications are now in the rearview mirror — it took a bit of finessing, but they've now figured out how to make the slice thing work, timing-wise, he says. He's also adjusting to the new, counter-service model. "I thought it would be easy," he says, laughing. "It's not that easy!"

For now, Pizza Head is open Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and weekends until midnight. Sundays for now are 4 to 8 p.m.

And just because it's got a punk rock theme, don't assume it's adults-only. Those stroller-pushers in Tower Grove East and Tower Grove South are not your boring suburban parents. Says Sandler, "With the music thing, I never thought it would be family-friendly. But I was totally wrong. There were people with kids last night that dropped by around 9 p.m." Hey, how can you blame them? At a place this popular, that's probably the only time the wait was reasonable.

Scroll down for more photos of Pizza Head.

click to enlarge Stag: south St. Louis' beer of choice. - PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • Stag: south St. Louis' beer of choice.

click to enlarge Pepperoni slices are $4; a vegan slice, made with cashew cheese, is also $4. - PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • Pepperoni slices are $4; a vegan slice, made with cashew cheese, is also $4.

click to enlarge The place has a dark, bar-like feeling — but no hard liquor. - PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • The place has a dark, bar-like feeling — but no hard liquor.
click to enlarge The punk theme is evident. - PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • The punk theme is evident.

click to enlarge What's on tap? PBR, naturally. - PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • What's on tap? PBR, naturally.
click to enlarge The jukebox will get the party started. - PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • The jukebox will get the party started.
click to enlarge The place can get very busy. - PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • The place can get very busy.
click to enlarge Pizza Head is located in the spot that formerly held Brickyard Tavern, and before that, Absolutli Goosed. "It's just a killer location," Sandler says. "I was really lucky to land this space." - PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • PHOTO BY KELLY GLUECK
  • Pizza Head is located in the spot that formerly held Brickyard Tavern, and before that, Absolutli Goosed. "It's just a killer location," Sandler says. "I was really lucky to land this space."



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