Posted by Welcome to the BJ FooDies spin-off blog at 11:23 PM

Cuisine: Pizza - European

Yum Factor: 3/5

Fu to the Wu (service): 3/5

FengShui: 3/5

Moolah: $$ - Not Cheap, Not Expensive

Repeat-Worthy: No&Yes

Commanding prime real estate within the heart of Sanlitun, and boasting one of the longest histories of serving pizza in Beijing, The Tree is a borderline historical artifact for expats in the city. Formerly known as “The Hidden Tree”, this subtle alcove was among the first to be run by expats for expats, and has been doing so since ’96. Just as the prologue does for this review, the first entry into this restaurant will intrigue visitors and persuade them to proceed.

Decked out in walls and floors reminiscent of the Stone Age, and covered by partial glass ceilings, the place provides a warm refuge from cold winter nights and a breezy escape from the heat of summer afternoons. The wooden furniture and platforms succeed in giving the space a sense of warmth and homeliness. A large stone oven placed snugly in the far corner of the main room further enhances the cozy, somewhat primitive feel of the eatery. Chinese art adorns the walls throughout, somehow managing not to clash with the olden European furnishings.

The setting of this restaurant, as well as the fabulously convenient location, seems to attract a wide variety of patrons. Lunchtime brings in a surprising amount of families, as well as a bunch of other expats, out for their afternoon pizza fix; while dinner hosts a mixed horde of dudes swigging on Belgian beer and feasting on the renowned pizzas.

Finally: The food itself. The Tree serves the standard pastas, sandwiches and salads; however, it is most known for its pizza. Speaking from the perspective of a true lover of food, and a fond appreciator of quality, I must say that their pizzas fall quite short of what one would expect from the restaurant awarded "best pizza in Beijing". While providing a rather scrumptious munch-out, with its crispy crusts and oily cheeses, it fails to satiate the more perceptive tongues of food connoisseurs. In spite of this, credit must be given to The Tree for preparing its pizzas with the thinnest possible crusts.

Unfortunately, it is everything above the crust that lets down the final product. The tomato sauce hardly exceeds average quality; the locally produced cheese is excessively oily and evidently low grade; and the toppings, though not deficient, simply do not reflect the quality of the pizza’s base.

The Tree’s pizzas are certainly fitting for grabbing a fair bite while in the area; absolutely ideal for that after-boozing foodfest; but will not quite meet the needs of a foodie out for a real pizza. In addition, the prices charged are relatively steep and do not reflect the quality provided.

Foodie Addict: Mr.Crabclaws

43 Bei Sanlitun Nan | 北三里屯南43号

100m west of Sanlitun North Bar Street