Delicata in Como, St. Paul

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

J.D. Fratzke and Matty O’Reilly have been busy. Between summer 2016 and March 2017, they opened two restaurants, Red River Kitchen and Bar Brigade. And now they’ve added Delicata, a casual Italian eatery in the Como neighborhood of St. Paul helmed by Noah Barton (former executive chef at Chino Latino). The newest member of the family has a lot in common with Punch Neapolitan Pizza. Like that local institution, Delicata offers a concise, pizza-focused menu emphasizing fresh ingredients in a family-friendly environment. And like the newer Punch locations, Delicata is counter-service only.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

But this newbie isn’t a knockoff. It adds unique twists to familiar dishes, often with great success (though limited, at times, by poor execution, but more on that in a bit). Take the Antipasto Platter ($12), for example. With sweet, plumped grapes, spicy giardiniera, savory gigante beans, salty cured meats and olives, and crunchy almonds, it’s a delicious adventure in flavor and texture.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Another starter, the Grilled Artichokes ($7) is a refreshing departure from standard artichoke dips: A quartet of smoky hearts pairs brilliantly with bright, nutty romesco sauce. Heaped on expertly bronzed crostini, the “dip” is spot on. The Big Mixed Salad ($12) also excellently updates a classic: We’d be thrilled if pickled onions, gigante beans, prosciutto, sliced egg, and marinated tomatoes became staples in pizza parlor salads.

Several pizzas showcase the Delicata team’s creativity and commitment to killer ingredients. The humbly named Pork Sausage ($12) is one of the most satisfying pies we can recall. It’s piled high with zesty meat, pillowy ricotta, and tender fennel slices; vibrant oregano and punchy romesco pull the aggressive elements into a cohesive whole.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

The Delicata Pizza, made with the eponymous winter squash ($12, top) is another inventive eye-opener. We were skeptical that combining naturally sweet squash and balsamic vinegar with salty prosciutto and blue cheese would work. But where we expected a power surge, instead we got a great balance of sweet and salty (if perhaps a bit too much blue cheese). A veggie option ($13, above) with artichoke, spinach, feta, and olives on rich red sauce doesn’t break new ground, but it’s as tasty as the more adventurous combos.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Delicata’s short list of desserts distances the restaurant from the pack. We’d travel far and wide for the Coconut Cake ($6). As one of our dining partners exclaimed, “That’s what dessert should look like — just stupid good.” Topped with small peaks of light meringue, the cake is moist, airy, and just the right amount of sweet. Slightly burnt shredded coconut is the secret not-secret ingredient, adding depth and texture to an already great slice of cake.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Both types of gelato we tried — pistachio and strawberry ($5 each) — held their own against the pastry. A little less dense and a little creamier than average gelato, these offerings explode with flavor. Given that Delicata bills itself as a pizza and gelato joint, we were surprised that it serves gelato from Sonny’s and Zia’s Gelato rather than make it in house.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Our excitement about Delicata’s desserts was, nonetheless, unable to smooth over the restaurant’s inconsistency. Some pizzas arrived crisp and adorned with beautiful leopard spots, while others showed up floppy and without char. Depending on the night, the Cheesy Garlic Bread ($5) was unappetizingly greasy or well-balanced and satisfying. Even the Big Mixed Salad varied visit to visit. After winning us over during on our first trip, it bombed on the second — limp greens seemed like they’d been dressed earlier in the evening rather than to order.

Delicata has the right ingredients to become an excellent neighborhood restaurant: a friendly vibe, comfortable indoor seating, a spacious patio, interesting yet approachable food, and rosé on tap. Given Fratzke’s and O’Reilly’s respective track records, we’re confident that Delicata will fix its consistency issues and, with a little luck, enjoy Punch-style success.

Jane Rosemarin edited this story; James Norton has worked closely with Noah Barton at Chef Camp.

Pizzeria and Gelateria in the Como neighborhood of St. Paul

1341 Pascal St
St. Paul, MN 55108
CHEF/OWNERS: Noah Barton / J.D. Fratzke and Matty O’Reilly
BAR: Beer and wine
HOURS: Mon-Fri 4 p.m.-10 p.m.
Sat and Sun 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (Brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m., beginning Sept 23)

No More Taco Tuesdays, A New Look for Grain Belt, and More

Joe Krummel / Heavy Table
Joe Krummel / Heavy Table

Wisconsin brewery Lakemaid is testing out drone-based beer delivery to ice fishermen (spoiler: if real, any number of government bodies will shut this down). The Well Fed Guide to Life heads out to Manny’s Tortas. City Pages reviews Hammer & Sickle (pictured above; here’s our take). A new look for Grain Belt. Madison’s Old Fashioned gets a cease-and-desist from Taco John’s over “Taco Tuesday.” And Punch Pizza got a shout-out in last night’s State of the Union address.

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The latest from Twitter: @LindenHillsCoop is hiring for customer service, @Bradstreet601 is teaching thirsty students how to make classic punch cocktails this Thursday, @PunchPizza is swinging free buffalo mozzarella upgrades all week, and @mnwomenspress calls @The_Wedge their most beloved co-op.

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The latest from Twitter: @holaarepa sends their love from South America, @StubAndHerbs enjoys a visit to @ButcherandBoar, @reetsyburger noshes @RyeDeli, and @PunchPizza is offering discounts and gift cards for six-word cravings until Wednesday.

Animated Short of Pollan’s “Food Rules” and February 16 Tweet Rodeo

The latest from Twitter: @PunchCalhoun has two-for-one pizzas today, @metromag digs the new Eat Street Social’s take on an Old Fashioned, @FreshTartSteph talks about a stop-motion animation of Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules” — and then fries gluten-free bread in bacon fat.

Wilde Roast Reopens and June 14 Tweet Rodeo

@128cafe promotes their presence at this Friday’s [Communist Daughter-led] installment of a free concert series, @PunchGrandAve sells cheap wine all week, @AcadiaCafe announces the menu for tonight’s Beer & Beast, @WildeRoastCafe reopened today, and @3squaresMN seeks experienced staff for The Lowry in Uptown.

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@CakeEaterBakery celebrated one year in business yesterday (celebrate with a home-baked cake using owner Emily Moore Harris’ vegan baking tips), @PunchPizza offers a new salumi plate at their Highland Park outpost, @SewardCoop gears up for their CSA Fair, @MplsFarmMarket calls out some interesting points from the USDA’s Minnesota Fact Sheet, and @AndrewZimmern cheers on Robin from Gateaux in her competition on Amazing Cakes.

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