Nestled in the old Salon Bazaar on Jefferson Street is a restaurant earning a local buzz about its Cajun slant on Italian food and tables with beer taps right at your fingertips.
Pie Hole Pizzeria and Tap owner Chad Cormier says the pizza at the Pie Hole is "not in the realm of ordinary." The pizza crust is thin but has a true flavor of its own, crispy but bready - and all pizzas are made with dough whipped up the same day with a smattering of Mediterranean herbs and a sea salt-sprinkled crust that is the perfect surprise to end a slice.
"I make my crust my own way," says Cormier. "We definitely put a twist on it."
That special crust comes on a personal four-slice pizza or a large 16-inch topped with a hearty red sauce or a creamy white sauce.
Cormier learned his cooking skills from his mother, the base of the family. Of the restaurant business, Cormier says it's "definitely a family affair," and he wants the Pie Hole to be a family-friendly business despite being surrounded by bars downtown. Cormier opened The Station in Broussard with his brother Marc in 2005 and worked with his five siblings there. When the Jefferson Street spot opened up for lease, Cormier jumped at the opportunity. "It's foolish not to capitalize on this location," he says.
But the location proved to have its own troubles, which Cormier found out in February, preventing him from opening until October. There were plumbing and electrical issues, and Cormier and his team stripped the walls to expose the brick, from which they hung a permanent collection of Ryan Cormier art - no relation.
Chad Cormier says his neighbors also prevented him from running natural gas lines to power the kitchen, so he has to fire up the propane tanks for the ovens.
Cormier says the menu's standouts begin with the macaroni and cheese with fried duck wings. The macaroni is drenched in three cheeses: Velveeta, sharp cheddar and smoked gouda, and the duck wings are smothered in a pepper-jelly-and-pineapple sauce. The duck quesadillas also come highly recommended, with a pastry stuffed with the duck breast meat, onions and peppers and served with a sweet chili dipping sauce. For a pizza pie that can't be missed, try the Jackson 5 - named after Cormier's son - a blend of pepperoni, beef, ham, chicken and bacon. The veggie pizza is also delicious with sun-dried tomatoes and white sauce. Cormier sources locally for the herbs and spices, including those for a fresh basil pesto and a pesto cream sauce, which is one of the pasta sauces made to order. If a quick lunch is necessary, stop by the Pie Hole for a New York slice of pizza for $5.
Cormier says he hopes to expand hours to serve the single slices to late-night snackers. Dinner ends at 11 p.m., too, so a late dinner is available.
The restaurant's food isn't its only appeal, though. Wander in and sit at a draft table, Lafayette's only such self-serve table-top tap. "They work like a gas station pump so you know exactly how much is pouring," says Cormier. Three of the restaurant's tables have two taps installed into the center of the table, and they can be switched out according to preference - if you reserve the table ahead of time. Choose from 26 different beers on tap, or ask for root beer. The tap is wired to the cash register, so there's no middle man for beer service.
"Some people come in [just] to check it out. I've even had tables ask, What's the most people drank on it so far?' and I'll say, Well it's not a game, it's not a competition, but this many, and they say, Oh, we're going to drink more than that.' So in this culture, especially, it lends to the good time. It's almost like an interactive aspect of the place."
Find The Pie Hole Pizzeria & Tap at 520 Jefferson St. in the old Salon Bazaar. - ER