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Parker Pie cooks up culinary originality

The Green Mountain Special at Parker Pie Co. in West Glover.

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The Green Mountain Special at Parker Pie Co. in West Glover.

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Warm, gooey cheese, a mozzarella-cheddar blend. Delicious bacon strewn haphazardly across the pie. Sautéed onions. Thinly sliced apples. Liberal amounts of spinach. Finishing it off is an ever-so-subtle drizzle of perfectly diluted maple syrup. Interested? Aptly named The Green Mountain Special, this pizza is an outstanding feature at Parker Pie up in West Glover.

While the pizza made at Parker Pie is a rewarding experience, the restaurant also features a noteworthy bar and live music. Conceived almost a decade ago out of the back of a convenience store, Parker Pie was a cute, pizza-producing nook; little more than a retrofitted woodshed with a few well-worn wooden tables. The years have seen this restaurant grow into something beautiful.

The hole-in-the wall nook remains, but now it’s been expanded; a large communal bench takes precedence with new tables having been eased in around it. Adorning the walls are pictures of the breathtaking Vermont countryside. This is where families feast, little children run about underfoot, and the tone is lighthearted and welcoming. While the space is nicely done, Sydney and I have come for the complete Parker Pie experience. With alcohol and music on our minds we made our way down the walk to the wooden structure glommed onto the side of the store.

Entering Parker’s barroom can be unusual your first time, for most bars aren’t designed in this mold. What exactly were they going for when building this? Is it a bar, a loft, or perhaps a converted barn? Regardless, wood, of both the polished and rough cut variety, is the overlying theme. Whatever its appearance is, this bar isn’t trying to be something it’s not.

The atmosphere of many bars is set by those who frequent them, something that holds true at Parker. In the far corner there is the answer to the trio of snowmobiles resting in the parking lot out back. Their laughter fills the room every few minutes, loud and boisterous. Separated from the snow rats by an obtrusive staircase sits another group, the lost children of the Greatest Generation. Then of course there is the staple of any barroom, the bar. Wrapping around the corner and out of sight it is adorned by the loyal flies, from young, punch-drunk twenty-somethings to old friends and lovers, all high on good company and strong beer.

Perching ourselves on barstools by the window, we focused our attention on the assortment of beer available, not an easy choice to make at a joint whose selection of beers easily shames some of the biggest alehouses in Boston.

With over 40 kinds of beers on hand, many hailing from breweries from across the Atlantic, any aficionado can appreciate the well-rounded menu. The beers available on tap were impressive in themselves; Sixpoint Global Warmer, Mystic Descendant Dark Ale, Hill Farmstead Excursions #1 and Rock Art Pine were some of the more illustrious standouts.

Our thirst sated by a Switchback and a Rustic Ale, the hunger began to voice its impatience, something painfully exacerbated by the deliciousness wafting nonstop from the kitchen to our nostrils. The wait was fast becoming unbearable.

Then, rising above the other scents, it hit us. Something about the warm, almost playful smell of melted cheese mixed with choice toppings gets the mouth watering like nothing else. With a powerful sense of anticipation, further heightened when the waitress gave us a reassuring nod as she angled towards our table with the Green Mountain Special at hand, we braced ourselves.

The pizza was so aesthetically beautiful, so creatively blended and welcoming I almost felt bad about tearing into it. Almost.

I took my first bite and, like a thunder bolt, everything but the pizza was blanked from my mind. My taste buds were ignited by the delectable wave of flavor produced in just one mouthful. The wafer thin apple slices gave the onion new dimensions of taste. Tangy met with bitter and they lovingly bonded. Then came the bacon, a saltiness that embraced the sweet maple syrup drizzle and wouldn’t let go.

In the background the spinach and garlic were busy seeping into the mozzarella-cheddar blend, acting as a zesty foundation to the more vibrant toppings. All of this came down on me like a storm, creating a bumping, grinding, ever-evolving rave in my mouth. What is perhaps the best thing about the Green Mountain Special is that despite the colorful array of ingredients it displays, they complement and accent each other impressively well. Like the state it is named for, the Green Mountain Special is revolutionizing the norm, pushing against the boundaries of “socially acceptable.”

Now, aside from the great beer and pizza another aspect of Parker Pie that adds to the multitude of ways to enjoy this factory of indulgence is the weekly live music. The waitress aimed us to the staircase jutting out of the back wall so we headed up to investigate.

The upper level of the bar is reminiscent of a hay loft, plain and simple. Whereas the downstairs bar area is quite comfortable, the loft is unheated and smartly minimalist. With the rafters proudly on display and a soft light emanating from strategically placed lamps and overhead lights, there is very little to distract you from the point of focus; the performance. When a band plays they are placed on a raised platform, a good four feet above the standing area; imagine a minister preaching to his flock. Every Thursday and Saturday various bands such as Can Am Jazz Band and Wombaticus Rex perform from 7:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. or so.

Our visit landed on a Friday, which meant our musical experience was to be a free jam session. Simply put, bring an instrument, go onstage and play your heart out. I witnessed a session among friends; the baby boomers had traded in their beers and pizzas for the weaponry of a rock band, their bass, guitars, keyboard and microphone tuned and at the ready. The freestyle session complemented the casual atmosphere that Parker embodies.

While there on an off night musically, my experience at Parker Pie was still very enjoyable. Serving excellent pizza, traditional as well as bizarre, a deep assortment of beers, and featuring a great atmosphere, Parker Pie has something to offer everyone.

So remember this, if you ever find yourself near the West Glover do yourself a favor and stop by Parker Pie, a restaurant-bar that doesn’t lack for character. In an age where originality struggles, Parker Pie stands as a testament to perseverance, pizza, beer and music.

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Parker Pie cooks up culinary originality