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First Slice Is A Slice Of Heaven

By John DiGilio in Food on Apr 10, 2012 7:20PM

Few things are so satisfying, so comforting, so enticing as a thick, delicious slice of fresh pie. Fruit pies, cream pies, custards, we love them all. When pie is at its best, there is really very little that can make it better. Well, how about an amazing slice of pie that comes with the knowledge that you are also doing good in your neighborhood? Yes, there really is such a thing and you can find it in Andersonville at First Slice Pie Café.

Open since early March, First Slice Pie Cafe is the latest eatery from Chef Mary Ellen Diaz and the good folks at her First Slice non-profit organization. (They also have cafés in Ravenswood and at the Lillstreet Art Center.) First Slice is a community-supported, volunteer driven kitchen that cooks up healthy, tasty meals for Chicago's neediest citizens. Their name and their mission go hand in hand. In fact, their website says it best,

What does it mean to give the first slice of the pie to those who are used to living on crusts? It means dignity—often for the first time. It means hope. It means the possibility of not only sustenance but joy.

The Cafe offers a mouth-watering range of soups, salads, sandwiches and, of course, pies. Prices come in at under $10 for most entrees and the baristas are brewing up Alterra roasts for your drinking pleasure. The menu is very vegetarian and gluten-free friendly. Best of all, the proceeds from your purchases support the First Slice kitchen and its programs. Who knew being a little decadent could do so much good?

We stopped in recently to sample the fare. We started with a grilled cheese sandwich that was out-of-this-world tasty. It was pressed to perfection with just enough cheese to be filling without being too heavy. We washed it down with a hot, spicy chai tea latte. The two made for a wonderful combination. We then quickly turned our attention to the pie case. Our eyes bulged as we peered through the glass at some of the biggest, most beautiful confections we have ever seen. It was a struggle, but we settled on the French Silk. The name was fitting, as we took our time enjoying bite after silky bite. It was a chocolate-lover's dream come true. It was hard to leave without trying at least half a dozen others. Then again, that longing will make it easier to go back very soon.

At First Slice Pie Cafe, you can have your cake... er, pie... and eat it too. Good food that actually brings good to the community! Get up from the computer and get on in there today. Check out the meal subscriptions and volunteer opportunities while you are at it. You are going to need to do something while you enjoy a slice or two.

First Slice Pie Cafe is located at 5357 N. Ashland Ave. Other First Slice locations are at 4664 N. Manor Ave. and the Lillstreet Art Center (4401 N. Ravenswood).