Three months after opening in the former Reginelli’s location at the corner of State and Magazine, Noodle & Pie—a ramen joint also serving sweet pies—is on the squiggly road to success. What started as a pop-up restaurant by Eman Loubier of Dante’s Kitchen and his sous chef Brian Armour is literally a mixed bowl. Right after their August opening, the lights in the restaurant shone so bright they attracted swarms of palmetto bugs, a problem that one of the waiters considered himself “too Buddhist, and too Hindu” to address. When we returned in September, we had the opposite problem. The lights were turned down so low we had to use the flashlight app on our phones to read the menu. It’s nice to see what one is eating, too, and to be able to reassure oneself of a continued absence of swarms.
The ramen, made in-house, is very good. The broth has become less salty over time, so we can now put the mixed salt and chili pepper spices on the table to good use. The brightly shining, whole, soft-boiled egg in each bowl might not add a lot in terms of flavor, but contributes what artists know as “white space”—that essential element that makes all the other ingredients stand out.
The soupspoons are ridiculous—as large as serving spoons. Table tools often require a certain kind of posture and poise, and in this case, we should act like giants elbowing our way through barrels of gruel.
The standard house bowl comes with slivers of lovely, slow-cooked pork shoulder and tender mushrooms. The crab bowl, one of many recent special bowls, is light and flavorful with a generous amount of crab, but unfortunately arrives topped with what one of the servers explained as “chili strings, an Asian specialty”—something most people probably would take for fried, red hair.
The ramen bowls are reasonably priced at about $9. The weird thing about Noodle & Pie, however, is that your beer (if you want a good beer) might be $9 too, and the appetizers are generally small and overpriced. “Sardines” turned out to be one single sardine; the shrimp-cracker fries could fit in a baby’s palm; and the lemon-salted chicken skin (tiny bits wrapped around wooden sticks) should probably not be served at all, and definitely not for $5.
The best part of Noodle & Pie is pastry chef Mimi Assad’s pies. They’re amazing, and only $5 a slice. The refreshing lemon cream pie might be her best yet, and the apple pie surprised us with a hint of rosewater.
Address: 741 State St.
Hours: 4:00-10:00 p.m. Mon.-Thurs. and Sun., open until midnight Friday and Saturday.