Dan Lewis and Robin Rankin, former owners of Coastal Living Market, have been perfecting their pizza recipe for years but are finally sharing it with Bethany Beach, with the grand opening of their latest venture, Pie — a gourmet pizza restaurant and wine bar.
Also joining Lewis and Rankin in the venture is long-time friend Kelley Martin, who has been overseeing the bar while her business partners run the kitchen. The result so far has been overwhelming success with a concept that has become increasingly popular in various cities throughout the nation.
“This whole concept of more gourmet pizza is popping up everywhere. We literally had no idea,” said Martin of customer feedback so far. “We have gotten nothing but rave reviews about everything. Everybody loves it.”
“I think, in general, simpler concepts in restaurants overall are becoming more popular,” added Rankin of the idea. “We wanted it to be casual. We’re at the beach. We don’t want people to feel like they have to get dressed up to come to dinner.”
To go along with Pie’s casual yet inviting atmosphere, the menu also avoids overcomplication, featuring nine specialty pizzas, a few salads, and a variety of meat and cheese charcuterie plates. Customers are also free to build their own custom pizzas, incorporating any of the house ingredients available, all on Pie’s signature hand-rolled, grilled dough.
“We make our dough in the morning. We roll it out and we grill it,” Rankin described of the dough, which is made fresh daily. “We’ve been working on a technique for years where we grill our dough ahead of time, so it gives you that flavor that you want in a good pizza.”
One of the signature pizzas for the season right now is the “Summertime Pizza,” which features pesto, fresh sweet corn, grape tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh crabmeat and basil.
“That’s literally like summer time on a pizza,” Rankin described of the seasonal ingredients. “I’d say right now we’re probably getting 75 percent of our produce from local farms, most of it organic.”
To go along with dinner, the menu also features a carefully selected beer and wine list, with most of the beers being local craft brews.
“We wanted to bring in things that we believed in,” Rankin said of the choice to feature local beers and produce. “Everyone that works here is knowledgeable about the beers and wines that we have. We feel like it’s a very personal thing — it’s your taste.”
But pizza isn’t the only kind of pie being served up. For dessert, the restaurant offers an assortment of fruit pies made with local fruit and crumb topping.
“My grandmother’s crust that I learned from my mom — that’s why it’s called Pie,” Rankin explained of the restaurant’s name. “We got extremely well known for our fruit pies — people went nuts over these pies.”
Whether it be fruit pies or pizza pies, one thing is for sure: the customers are happy to see the restaurant finally open its doors.
“Everyone makes a point to come up and say, ‘It’s great,’ ‘Good luck,’ ‘This is awesome,’ ‘It’s just what Bethany needed,’” Martin said, noting that some visitors to the area have been coming back two and three times during their stay. “It’s different.”
“We’re happy to finally be open,” added Rankin. “We’re thrilled to do what we wanted to do and have the positive feedback. The whole process took a little longer than we expected just to get going for the season. I think we’re just enjoying what’s going on right now.”
Pie is located at 120 Central Boulevard in Bethany Beach. Currently, the restaurant is open seven days a week, from 5 to 10 p.m. For more information, call (302) 539-2600.