Petsi's, oh Petsi's, what is a bakery babe to do with you? As hard as I've tried, my love affair has not yet blossomed. I keep waiting for that visit where I want to scream to the rafters that one and all must visit this pie shop(s)....and yet. And yet.
Well, let's begin from the top. About two years ago, I first went to snag a piece of pie on Beacon Street, and found an extraordinarily small store with a badly lit seating area the size of a port-a-potty. I rolled the dice on a single piece of pie...a chocolate bourbon nut business...that was so chock full of all those ingredients that it took the better part of the day to digest. It wasn't that it tasted bad, it was just that it was so rich, intense, and nutty that there wasn't a ton of joy in contemplating its memory.
Thinking to give Petsi's a second chance, I went to their cafe in Cambridge. A shaggy cafe that looks like it is straight out of Berkely...like there is an acre of homegrown sprouts behind the counter...and on a Saturday morning a little before lunch? Well, they were sold out of pie. That's right. SOLD OUT. A scorned bakery babe is not a pretty thing. What kind of pie place has John Lennon at the cash register looking unconcerned as he announces there's no more pie for the day? Strike two, Petsi's, strike two.
But the bakery babe is not a vengeful pastry goddess. I took part of my vacation in June to walk back to Petsi's original location, and give it a third try. And this time, in sweltering 90 degree heat and high humidity, I stumbled into the little pie shop to find...little in the way of air conditioning. My pie of choice on this visit was peach with blackberries, and it was very tasty, although a bit heavy on the nuts in the crumble. It was, however, at room temperature...which meant, well, I was eating 90 degree pie in a little sweltering badly lit seating area the size of a...yes, a port-o-potty. This is a matter of debate for some, but I stand by the supposition that berry pie should either be well chilled, OR it should be served with an enormous scoop of ice cream or a cold glass of milk...neither were to be had at Petsi's.
Am I too fickle? I thought about it at length and realized that everyone who came in to order pie while I was eating, got theirs to go. And that's the heart of it. This is the sort of place where people drive, squint at the distant rack of options behind the counter, pick up a tasty pie for a family dinner, and keep going. It's not the kind of place where you can oggle the pies up close, and then settle down in a cute setting to have the bakery experience. And for me, that's missing half the joy. I can recommend this as a place to pick up a pie, but I can't recommend it as a place to linger and enjoy a piece of pie.
bakery: 285 Beacon St, Somerville MA 02143
cafe: 31 Putnam Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139