Atlanta Orders In: Rice n’ Pie piles Indian flavors on top of a pizza

Rice N' Pie offers Detroit-style pizzas with Indian toppings, including the spicy 65 (left) and milder Butter Chicken (right). 
Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
Rice N' Pie offers Detroit-style pizzas with Indian toppings, including the spicy 65 (left) and milder Butter Chicken (right). Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Unconventional Berkeley Lake spot also offers rice dishes

At Rice n’ Pie, you can have your chicken tikka — and your pizza, too.

Satisfying everyone’s cravings was Gopala Kurra’s goal when he conceived of a casual dining spot that features Indian flavors in rice dishes and scattered on top of a pizza.

It all started because of disagreements when his own family ate out. Kurra and his wife would be in the mood for rice dishes, his children would vote for pizza, and someone always would be disgruntled. “There should be a place where you should be able to capture every person in the family,” he told himself.

Located in a small strip mall in Berkeley Lake, Rice n’ Pie has been a one-stop shop for fusion pizzas, Indian rice dishes, snacks and fruit-laden milkshakes since its debut in the fall of 2017.

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Located in the Gwinnett County town of Berkeley Lake, Rice n' Pie focuses on Indian fusion via rice dishes and pizzas. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
Located in the Gwinnett County town of Berkeley Lake, Rice n' Pie focuses on Indian fusion via rice dishes and pizzas. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

On the pie side, the restaurant sticks to thick, chewy, rectangular-shaped Detroit-style. While the pizza crust is familiar, toppings are unconventional, with some of India’s most widely known dishes piled on top. Among the bestsellers: the spicy 65 (inspired by chicken 65), the milder tikka and the butter, featuring a choice of chicken, paneer or sausage in a creamy curry sauce.

The restaurant doesn’t seek inspiration just from the Indian subcontinent for its specialty pizzas. Thai green curry, Korean barbecue and Jamaican jerk chicken also are in the mix, along with the usuals — there’s a sausage and pepperoni pizza that should appease traditionalists.

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Aromatic Indian rice dishes are separated into three categories: biryani, pulav (pilaf) and bowls studded with everything from chicken to shrimp to rich goat meat.

While pizza and rice comprise the bulk of the menu, Rice n’ Pie also offers Indian-inflected savory snacks and desserts, along with milkshakes. “Customers want an appetizer, main course and a treat,” Kurra said. Having all of that on the menu means patrons don’t have to look elsewhere to satisfy a sweet tooth or enjoy an appetizer of crispy chickpeas or tender paneer laced in garlic or tandoori seasoning.

Customers have continued to look to Rice n’ Pie throughout the pandemic. The family-run restaurant never closed or altered its hours, although it did shut down the 40-seat dining room. Eleven months later, it remains a takeout- and delivery-only operation.

Rice N' Pie offers a selection of amply portioned biryani, including one rich with goat meat.
Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
Rice N' Pie offers a selection of amply portioned biryani, including one rich with goat meat. Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Sales were down 30% to 40% during the initial months of the pandemic, Kurra said, but that was offset slightly by participation in a Berkeley Lake initiative to contract with restaurants to feed frontline and government workers.

“Then, it started picking up,” he said. “During that time, there were not many restaurants open. That gave an opportunity for people to find us. We got a lot of new customers. It continues even now.”

Rice n’ Pie has seen a shift, however. Formerly brisk, its weekday lunch business has dried up. Yet, when dinnertime arrives, everyone seems to have a hankering for a slice of pizza, a bowl of rice and a thick, frosty shake.

Paneer bites from Rice n' Pie come with a bit of heat. Cool down your mouth with a few spoonfuls of raita — or a slurp of the restaurant's milkshakes. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
Paneer bites from Rice n' Pie come with a bit of heat. Cool down your mouth with a few spoonfuls of raita — or a slurp of the restaurant's milkshakes. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

RICE N’ PIE

Menu: fusion pizzas, Indian rice dishes, snacks, desserts and shakes

Alcohol: no

What I ordered: 65 pizza, butter pizza, goat biryani, ginger chile paneer bites and chikoo (sapota) shake. Rice n’ Pie’s thick crust provides a sturdy canvas for generous, flavorful toppings. Order the 65 if you like heat. A small pizza is enough for two to three people. The goat biryani offered a heady aroma and rich flavor; it’s a huge portion — enough for two as an entree, or four as a side dish. Paneer bites come in a variety of flavors; ginger chile packed a punch. Swiping a forkful of the finely diced cheese in raita and sipping on that tropical, mildly pear-flavored shake were tasty cooldowns.

Service options: carryout and delivery; place carryout orders in person, online or via phone (curbside available upon request); delivery via DoorDash and Uber Eats

Outdoor dining: no

Mask policy: required for all employees; not mandated for customers

Address, phone: 3980 Peachtree Industrial Blvd., Berkeley Lake; 770-302-0320

Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-10 p.m. Fridays; 11 am.-10 p.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays

Website: ricenpie.com

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