If location were truly everything, Boomer Pizza would have a problem. Just off Highway 371 in Baxter, Boomer Pizza is in a nondescript strip mall behind a Holiday Station and adjacent to Cub Foods, a spot that doesn’t exactly exude high-quality cuisine.
Fortunately, in this case location isn’t everything. Boomer Pizza significantly raises the pizza bar in the Brainerd Lakes area. Once inside, diners feel the strip mall vibe vanish as they are greeted by friendly servers and get a look at the eye-popping, tiled, wood-burning pizza oven, from which pizzas are shoveled quickly in and out. Owner Chris Moran spent several years investigating the Metro area pizza scene — along with making a couple of trips to San Francisco — while developing his own crust formula and bringing it back to his hometown. The research and time paid off: his crust manages to be both crisp and chewy in the right proportions. One thing it is not: soggy in the middle. The crust keeps its integrity all the way across (and even holds up well after refrigeration and reheating).
One of the shop’s highly touted pies is Pig Heaven ($11.50), a sauceless pizza with generous amounts of mozzarella and grana padano, along with garlic, herbs, and best of all, big slabs of crisp, meaty, smoky, house-cured bacon, all resting on that more-than-respectable crust.
The County Clare pizza ($8.50) is a smart nod to more traditional red-sauce pizzas, with zippy fennel sausage, cracked green olives, and oregano on a tangy, not-too-thick sauce. But the overly copious amount of nearly raw onions is a misstep. The intense heat of the wood-burning oven means that the pizzas overall are done in a flash, but the onions stubbornly remain raw. I love onions and frequently complain that there aren’t enough in whatever it is that I’m eating, but in this case, I picked off at least half of them. People less enamored of this particular allium will wish the onions had been defanged a bit by being sauteed in butter or olive oil before they were put on the pizza.
Boomer Pizza offers a selection of Minnesota beers — including Surly, Summit, and Indeed Brewing — as well as wine and a full bar. Service is fast and friendly; the pizzas are reasonably priced and meticulously assembled (well, except for those onions); and location aside, the Brainerd area got itself a keeper of a pizza place.
Pizza, beer, and wine in the Brainerd Lakes area
14039 Edgewood Ave
Baxter, MN 56425
ENTREE RANGE: $7-$12
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Limited