Like a pop star dropping a surprise new album, Raleigh’s reigning culinary champ Ashley Christensen has announced that she’s opening the highly anticipated Poole’side Pies with a limited menu for dinner tonight—Friday the 13th, which probably doesn’t mean anything—at 5:00 p.m.

The Neapolitan-inspired, swim club-themed spot adjacent to Poole’s Diner is the latest concept from the 2019 James Beard Award winner for Outstanding Chef of the AC Restaurant enterprise, which also includes Death & Taxes, Fox Liquor Bar, and Beasley’s Chicken + Honey. (In July, Christensen announced another new venture, tentatively titled “Project Xtra Crispy,” a fast-casual chicken concept that will open three locations next year.)

For Christensen, good pizza is about striking a balance between traditional and experimental—a philosophy she seems to apply to her other concepts with great success.

“Pizza is approachable,” she told me in an email earlier this summer. “And excellent pizza is all in the details.”

The formula for the dough here is cooked in a Marra Forni wood-fired oven and is inspired by places that Christensen says have really nailed the Napoletana-style crust. 

The Poole’side menu will feature a rotating cast of pizzas, with small plates like macaroni and three-cheese frittatine and chicken wings saltimbocca. A number of salads, like the pickle juice Caesar with iceberg lettuce and parmesan cracklings, will provide a helpful side of enzymes, and diners can top off the gluten and greenery with a soft-serve ice cream sundae, a Videri chocolate budino, or a couple of cannoli poppers designed by pastry manager Britny Stephenson.

Cappie Peete, the beverage director, has designed a pizza-pairing program that includes Italian wines, refreshing cocktail spritzes, and other frozen delights. Former Poole’s Diner general manager Lesley Anderson will lead the service staff as general manager.

Christensen and her wife, Kait Goalen, purchased the former tire shop and photography studio in 2018 and have transformed the building to resemble an indoor swim club. Christensen and Goalen collaborated with Callahan Construction and Louis Cherry Architects to build a fifty-foot skylight that gives the space its bright and airy atmosphere. Parisian glass chandeliers that complement the turquoise-cushioned wooden banquettes that line the interior, and inclusive restrooms “for people” are also painted in a similar shade of aquamarine.

After being teased with a limited number of Poole’side pies during last weekend’s Hopscotch Festival, the people of Oak City can at last rejoice. Tonight’s opening marks a pizza watershed pretty much everyone in Raleigh has been waiting for.

Contact food and digital editor Andrea Rice at

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