Longtime fans of Iggies experienced a bit of panic last summer upon learning that the popular Mount Vernon pizza spot had been sold. Though Iggies loyalists were pleased that the restaurant wouldn't close, they were sorry to say goodbye to owners Lisa Heckman and Peter Wood.
Fortunately, Heckman and Wood's hiatus didn't last long. In early December, they were officially back on the scene, with the opening of Local Pie in the Towson space that formerly housed the cafe Havana Road.
Like Iggies, Local Pie is a casual, friendly BYOB place, serving very good pizza and salads. But while Iggies emphasizes authentic Neapolitan pizza, complete with many imported ingredients, Local Pie (as its name suggests) uses as many locally grown and raised products as possible.
Scene & Decor Local Pie's small space is a clean white box, decorated with framed photographs and quotes; it feels like a friendly gallery that deals in tiny, but bright, artwork.
During our Thursday night visit, the place was about half full, with diners of all ages. We placed our orders and paid at the register, which is located just inside the front door, then settled at a wooden table near the back of the room.
Appetizers We started with a bright and crunchy salad of kale, sunflower seeds, mild feta and bits of apple, dressed in lively honey vinaigrette ($10).
The salad was more than large enough to share as an appetizer — it might even work for three people. Though at first glance it looked like it was mostly kale, after a few bites we discovered that the balance of ingredients was a good one, and that there was just enough tasty dressing to give the whole plate zing.
Entrees Heckman and Wood say Local Pie's menu will change frequently, depending on the availability of local ingredients. During our visit, about a dozen specialty pizzas were available, each one was 12 inches and served on a thin, chewy, likable crust.
A white pizza topped with garlic, two cheeses, oyster mushrooms and a lovely, runny duck egg ($12) was savory and woodsy. The combination of flavors worked, though we wondered if the pizza would be even better with a tiny bit of acid — something like red wine vinegar — to cut the richness of the egg, cheese and mushrooms.
We had absolutely no complaints, however, about a pie topped with aged mozzarella, thin slices of apple and bourbon bacon jam ($11).
The pizza looked a little meager but after just one bite, any fears about its ability to satisfy were forgotten. The blend of creamy, tart, sweet and salty flavors and the smooth-meets-crunchy texture made the pizza an undeniable winner.
Drinks Local Pie is BYOB with no corkage fee, and there's a liquor store conveniently located next door. When we arrived with a bottle of wine in tow, our waitress handed us a corkscrew and let us handle the opening ourselves — a minor thing that we liked. It made us feel more like we were at a close friend's house for dinner rather than in a restaurant.
Service That feeling persisted during dinner. Throughout the meal, the staff at Local Pie was consistently friendly and helpful in a low-key, no-pressure way. When we walked in, the woman behind the register asked if we'd been in before and, when we said no, she clearly and quickly explained how to order. We appreciated that. Thanks to her, we didn't feel even a moment of newbie awkwardness.
After sitting, our waitress delivered the corkscrew, along with a bottle of water, and our food started to arrive a few minutes later, with appropriate pacing in between courses. She checked back in with us occasionally, clearing dishes, but never hovering.
Local Pie has a no-tipping policy, though given the good service, you might choose to tip anyway. When this happens, the restaurant donates the money to Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit organization that works to increase underserved areas' access to fresh, locally grown foods.
Dessert For dessert, a small chocolate and peanut butter whoopie pie ($2.75) was sweet and pleasing but we preferred the carrot cake ($6). Moist, studded with raisins and topped with tangy icing made with local goat cheese and honey, it felt like a wholesome end to a meal full of big flavors and great ingredients.