Having established himself as the chef at Rudyard’s Pub, Anthony Calleo is ready to give people what they want — pizza.
Best known as the founder of Pi Pizza, the food truck-turned-restaurant that’s currently part of Sambrooks Management Company (The Pit Room, Candente, 1751 Sea & Bar), Calleo tells CultureMap that people come to Rudyard’s every day to ask when he’ll start serving pizza. The primary issue has been a lack of space, but Calleo says he’s figured out a way to reconfigure the kitchen to accommodate a pizza oven.
“I’m straight up taking the oven out of my food truck and pitting it in here,” Calleo says. “It’s the original Pi Pizza oven.”
Pies should start flying by early November. Delivery will be available by all the apps that Rudyard’s currently works with, including Favor, UberEats, and DoorDash.
Calleo says he’ll serve two styles: the round pies he’s most-closely associated with and the Detroit-style pies he prepared at pop-ups prior to signing on at Rudyard’s. Detroit-style pizza is baked in square-shaped steel plans and features a layer of cheddar cheese along the edge of the crust.
“I’m real committed to doing it. It’s my favorite kind of pizza to eat, and you can get any that’s worth a shit unless you drive to Austin,” he says. “My goal is to make something at least as good as [Austin restaurant Via 313], and I think I’m getting close after 8 months of tinkering.”
In his Pi days, Calleo created unusual toppings using cooked ingredients — one Thanksgiving-themed special required roasting a whole turkey and making gravy from scratch — but he’s mellowed a bit. At Rudyard’s, the pies will be simpler and more focused with a greater emphasis on high-quality toppings. After six years making pizza, Calleo has less to prove; his focus is on using ingredients that taste good together on a pizza.
“One of the pizzas I’m dead set on putting on this Rudz menu is a white sauce pie with guanciale, smoked fingerling potatoes, goat horn peppers, and a little olive oil,” he says. “That’s about it. You gotta do stuff, but it’s not throwing straight haymakers at someone’s palate.”
Detroit-style pizzas will be a little heartier, because their thicker crust allows them to support more toppings. One option Calleo says he’s considering involves house-smoked brisket (the pub is already making its own short rib pastrami), and another will have housemade sausage and candied orange peels.
Best of all, the 70 or so people who have Pi Pizza tattoos will once again receive a discount when they order a pie. Calleo may not be affiliated with that business anymore, but he respects the commitment people made to him when they got their ink.
Bringing back anything associated with Pi comes with some mixed emotions, but Calleo says he’s proud of what he’s achieved at Rudyard’s in less than six month — including participating in Houston Restaurant Weeks for the first time — and proud of the team he’s assembled.
“More than half my kitchen worked at Pi with me. We know how to do this,” he says. “Another quarter worked at the food truck or the sandwich shop. We know how to work together, and we know how to make pizza. I think that is super cool.”