I’ve got this theory about Soulard. It draws a parallel between one of our most famous and beloved neighborhoods and the representation of Pleasure Island in the Disney classic Pinocchio, where incorrigible and rambunctious boys eat, drink, smoke and fight until they turn into donkeys as a punishment for their excessively poor behavior.

No disrespect intended to the people who call Soulard home. In fact, to take away the abundance of potential - and let’s face it, excess - fun that can be had along its worn sidewalks and side streets is to strip it of its soul. And, it is this sense of fun that makes Soulard - and Epic Pizza & Subs, one of its more recent additions - a perfect place for a team lunch, especially to blow off steam after seeing a project or assignment come to fruition.

Epic serves up a bevy of salads, sandwiches (The Hill is a standout with a relish of spicy red cherry peppers) and even a solid burger. However, you can’t go wrong with a pizza pulled from the brick oven dominating the back half of the restaurant.

Where to start? Keep it simple with the NY Cheese.

To Epic’s credit, it’s dialed in the sauce for this pie; in fact, of all the pizzas in town using the NY moniker, Epic’s is closest to the sweet sauce found on a New York-style street slice. Besides sauce there is a thin layer of mozzarella and a dusting of oregano, all riding on top of a thin crust that tends to have a more supple texture than you’ll find in New York. Diners looking for a more authentic East Coast version should ask for a well-done pie; it will provide a crisper skirt and a bit of snap when a slice is folded.

Worthy of noting: Epic is connected to next-door neighbor The International Tap House, which offers 40 craft and import beers on draught to aid and enhance your team's well deserved celebration. Management discretion is, of course, advised.

Epic Pizza & Subs, 1711A S. 9th Street, Soulard, 314.436.3742, epicpizzaandsubs.com

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