Pie with heart
Real Pie Company
Sacramento, CA 95818
Kira O’Donnell-Babich opened her original pie shop in 2007, then closed it a year later. There’s been a gaping hole in the hearts of Sacramento pie lovers ever since. When rumblings began that O’Donnell-Babich was opening a new shop in April, on the corner of 24th and Broadway, locals rejoiced and tweeted like pie-happy baby birds.
The menu at Real Pie Company is a little overwhelming. All pies come in the full 9-inch size and by the slice, and some also come in a smaller 6-inch mini size. Both mini-pies and slices are similarly priced. It can be confusing to know what’s what—like when you buy a mini key lime pie, then come in the following week to find there is no mini key lime—but braving the menu is worth it. Because, PIE.
First off: the savory pies. The seasonal shepherd’s pie ($8.75/mini) was perhaps the best thing I’ve eaten all week. Juicy and flavorful, the ground beef was perfectly seasoned and the potatoes were fluffy yet still tender. A second visit yielded a cold shepherd’s pie, but the staff were quick to warm it up for me. The chicken pot pie ($8.75/mini) was lovely as well. It wasn’t as flavorful as the shepherd’s pie, but the texture was spot-on, and it was everything I wanted a pot pie to be: warm, meaty and creamy, with a crispy-crackly top crust. The veggie quiche ($5.95/slice, $28/whole) was packed with veg, but bizarrely lacked salt.
Real Pie Company’s selection of fruit pies rotates seasonally, while a handful of favorite cream- and curd-based pies remain on the menu year-round. The selection of fruit pies is dazzling; think everything from a lovely raspberry-rhubarb to a show-stopping apricot-marionberry with a thick, crispy, oaten top crust. The perfectly balanced “jumbleberry” (blueberries, raspberries, marionberries, and cherries) is always on the menu. It’s a perennial favorite for a reason—bursting with fresh berry flavor, it’s an exercise in restraint to not face-plant straight into the plate. When it comes to fruit pies, simple is best. That’s exactly what you’ll get here.
The cream pies were a little more complicated. The banana-butterscotch ($5.75/mini, $28/whole) was good but short on butterscotch, which was overpowered by the banana; a second pie was heavy on the butterscotch, which then overpowered the banana. The chocolate cream pie ($5.75/mini, $28/whole) was solid. Not a game-changer, but perfectly executed. The coconut cream ($5.75/mini, $28/whole) was wonderfully creamy, but not a single one of my dining companions could detect any coconut flavor. It could have just been titled “cream pie.”
The strawberry cream pie ($5.75/mini, $28/whole) was incredible, with a creamy, bright pink filling that channels just as much peak berry flavor as a fresh strawberry pie. It comes with a chocolate crust that overpowers the strawberry a bit, but worked overall. The key lime ($5.75/mini, $28/whole) was tart and limey, with a hint of something that’s hard to place (rosemary, perhaps?) that shot the pie over the moon. Of all the cream pies, these two were the best.
If you love pie, you may fall prostrate on the doorstep of Real Pie Company. The only potential caveat is the cost. Here’s the thing, though: good food is not cheap to make, nor is it cheap to run a restaurant in Sacramento’s modern economy. What you’ll get in return is a thoughtfully-crafted pie baked by someone who truly cares about quality. And who wouldn’t want to support someone who bakes with love?