Before cupcakes and macarons, pie had its moments, both pop cultural (Twin Peaks) and commercial (remember when the Little Pie Company’s sour cream–apple had pretty much cornered the market?). You might say it’s having another. To wit: Momofuku Milk Bar’s trademarked Crack and Candy Bar Pies; the exuberantly received reopening of Williamsburg’s Pies-n-Thighs; and several blocks away, the pie shop named, in honor of the owner’s great-grandma’s trusty appliance, The Blue Stove. Leaf lard–based frozen pie crusts are a surprise hit for Flying Pigs Farm, and the humble foodstuff has even found a home at serious coffee bars like Bluebird Coffee Shop, which bakes superb buttermilk pies on weekends. There is a retro element to this resurgence, a do-ragged, DIY embrace of regional Americana, and also, in some cases, of Crisco and lard.
Now comes Four & Twenty Blackbirds, the city’s newest purveyor of old-fashioned pies, scheduled to open next weekend in Gowanus. (The company motto: “Keep your fork, there’s pie.”) Sibling owners Emily and Melissa Elsen have serious pie-making cred, having grown up in the family restaurant in Hecla, South Dakota, at the dough-rolling elbow of their grandmother Elizabeth. For the last year they’ve been custom-baking out of their Crown Heights apartment, but having deemed the burgeoning Third Avenue strip in need of a local coffee shop, they’ve made their operation official. Unlike their lard-loving grandma, the sisters prefer the flavor of butter crusts and make theirs by hand; their fruits are often local, and frozen or preserved for off-season use. Besides pies, which come in a wide variety, from shoofly to lavender-blueberry, the Elsens will serve breakfast pastries, quiche, soups, salads, sandwiches, and all manner of sweets, plus Irving Farm coffee. But pie is the thing, a sign of these recessionary, homespun times—something you can’t really say about a macaron. (439 Third Ave., at 8th St., Gowanus; 718-499-2917)