Summer vacations on Cape Cod as a child meant fried clams, miniature golf, the beach and, my father’s favorite outing — Marion’s Pie Shop. Pie just tastes better in New England. And a warm, just-baked pie in autumn, my, oh, my. Of course, it’s also the perfect ending to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Would you like a slice of pie? “No, thanks, I’m stuffed,” said no one ever.
Celebrate the season at these pie shops and bakeries around the region.
Honestly, you gotta love a pie shop that’s all about crust — and trust. This Underhill, Vt., pie shop is living example of humble pie — an old garden shed was converted into a “pie shed” and a living room into a bakeshop. “We stock the shed with all sorts of pies,” says Jamie Eisenberg, who owns the shop with her spouse, Paula. “Customers serve themselves and leave money in a secure box. It’s the farm stand model, and, yes, we use the honor system.”
The pie shed stays open “until it’s too cold and nasty to walk to it,” says Eisenberg. “Pie will continue to be available in a mini ‘winter shed’ our neighbor made for us out of reclaimed barn boards. It’s located in front of the bakeshop, and uses the same honor system.”
The most popular year-round pies are maple pecan, maple cream, and blueberry. And the shop sells around 250 pies Thanksgiving week. New this year? Pumpkin cheesecake pie with pecan praline.
The bakeshop, by the way, does not offer seating. In fact, Eisenberg says, there’s “barely room for the two of us.” www.poorhousepies.com
Buttermilk Baking Co.
“Pies are the new black,” says Ashley Bush, owner of this tiny year-round Newburyport bake shop. “We’ve seen huge growth in Wedding Pie (as opposed to wedding cake) in the last few years. It pairs really well with a rustic wedding theme and we’ve received really positive feedback from our couples.”
The most popular autumn pie? “Apple, it’s always apple,” says Bush. But, she adds, “we are playing around a bit more with cranberries this year. Stay tuned.”
The shop bakes about 600 pies for Thanksgiving. “We make everything by hand at Buttermilk and I’m always a little terrified we won’t be able to get it all done, but I’ve got a stellar staff and we bake round the clock to make it happen.” www.buttermilkbaking.com
Wright’s Dairy Farm & Bakery
When you’ve got a herd of Holstein cows, what do you do with all that extra milk and cream? You make chocolate cream pies and cream puffs. In mom’s kitchen. That’s how the bakery at this popular farm in North Smithfield, R.I., which is still a working dairy farm, got its start in the early 1970s.
This fall, the pastry chefs at Wright’s Dairy Farm & Bakery are busy baking the season’s top sellers, including pumpkin, apple, and Toll House. And, holy cow, they still use the milk and cream in the chocolate cream pie. www.wrightsdairyfarm.com
Two Fat Cats Bakery
Apple and pumpkin pies are traditional fall faves at this year-round bakery in Portland, Maine. “But I would say that our salted caramel apple has many fans as well,” says owner Stacy Begin. The 11-year-old bakery also debuted a new pie this season — the New England bog (blueberries and cranberries with orange zest and a crumble topping with bits of bittersweet chocolate).
Begin believes that there’s newfound respect for the skill it takes to make a good pie and the endless variety of flavors you can make. “And, really, apple pie and vanilla ice cream? How can you not want to just tuck into that and eat with abandon? It never gets old.”
The bakery sells more than 2,000 pies for Thanksgiving. “It takes two kitchens and countless hours of love,” says Begin. “Truly a labor of love.” www.twofatcats
Florence Pie Bar
Open just one year, like any good bar, this Florence, Mass., pie bar is a comfortable spot for locals to meet for conversation — and pie and coffee. Fall pie favorites include pear/apple/ginger crumb and, the most popular — salted chocolate pie. New this autumn — an apple lattice with apple cider caramel that “smells and tastes like fall,’’ says owner Maura Glennon.
The year-round shop also bakes hand pies with seasonal ingredients and tourtière, French-Canadian meat pies.
“We opened our pie shop because I knew people of all ages love pie,” says Glennon,. “But we didn’t expect to have so many requests for wedding pies, for instance, which is just one increase in popularity over the past few years. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate community and family together, both present and past, through memories, stories, and recipes for pie.” www.florencepiebar.com
Centerville Pie Company Bakery
This Cape Cod bakery has two locations — the flagship bakery in Centerville with a 16-seat restaurant. And the Centerville Pie Café, which opened this past spring in Barnstable Airport.
Close friends Laurie Bowen and Kristin Broadley, also known as The Pie Ladies, opened the shop in 2009 and were soon in the national spotlight thanks to Oprah Winfrey. “She was on the Cape for a Kennedy funeral and ‘The Pie Ladies,’ who had just opened the shop, delivered a pie to her hotel room,” says a bakery spokeswoman. “She fell in love with it, had them on the show, and the business took off.” The bakery went from selling 200 pies a week to 2,000.
The most popular pies in autumn are the apple and chicken pies, and this year there are two new pies — cranberry pumpkin and double-crusted lemon. And Thanksgiving is a busy time for sure — more than 3,000 pies are sold.
Centerville Pies partners with Cape Abilities, a local nonprofit organization that supports Cape Cod residents with disabilities, helping them with housing, transportation, and employment, and they employ more than 50 disabled adults. Sweeter than pie: a portion of annual proceeds are donated to the nonprofit. www.centervillepies.com
Marion’s Pie Shop
This Cape Cod pie shop opened in 1947 when Marion baked and sold her chicken pot pies in her Chatham home kitchen. Several years and many pies later, she opened the bakery next door and began to sell fresh fruit pies, too. In 2003, new owner Blake Stearns and his wife, Cindy, took over and continue Marion’s tradition of baking fresh daily pies.
The most popular pie this fall? “Pumpkin for sure, they line up and come from all over,” says Stearns. The shop also sells clam pie (with fresh, local clams) and a seafood pie with lobster, scallops, shrimp, and cod in a cream sherry sauce. “Our seafood pie, although a bit pricy, is certainly popular and a treat to have.” And the shop sells 3,000 pies for Thanksgiving. Open nearly year-round but closed Christmas Eve day through mid-February. www.marionspie
There are many pie flavors served at this indie bakery and coffee shop in Somerville, but there’s one that’s especially getting a whole lotta love. “Salted caramel apple is pretty hot this year,” says general manager, Jill Remby.
Renee “Petsi” McLeod, founder, spent her youth baking pies in her grandmother’s kitchen — and the pies are still made with only natural ingredients. The “fall savory pie” — roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, gorgonzola cheese and toasted walnuts is another featured autumn pie. And the apple/pear/cranberry pie with a walnut crumb topping is a seasonal favorite, too. For Thanksgiving? There are many to choose from, including the chocolate bourbon pecan.
The original Petsi location, on Beacon Street in Somerville, is where the pies are baked daily — and you can sit to enjoy a slice of pie and cup of coffee. (There are also two Petsi cafes and a restaurant, all located in Cambridge.) www.petsipies.comLaurie Wilson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.