Once upon a time, the Clyde Iron Works made steel. Now, the newly renovated industrial building is an ambitious restaurant and events center. Tables made of wood salvaged from the original structure are now set with ketchup and mustard bottles, and a menu of modestly priced comfort food offers visitors a chance to dine both ambitiously and economically. Rob Giuliani has taken the helm as chef, leading a kitchen that produces house-made pasta and wood-fired Neapolitan pizza. Owner Alex Giuliani hosted the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra’s Annual Ball on April 10 as their first event, and officially opened Clyde Iron Works to the public on Monday, May 24.
The upstairs holds a bar and flat screen TVs, recently tuned in to the World Cup soccer tournament. Tableside service is available upstairs, and Clyde Iron Works plans to incorporate a brewery into the complex so that their own beer will be available on tap.
Downstairs the service is fast casual. An employee standing between stacks of flour and tomato sauce imported from Italy greets customers at the door informing them about the flow of the restaurant. The words “wood fired” capture the focus of the restaurant — the wood-fired ovens, made by a local mason, are said by management to be among the largest in the Midwest. Pizzas are cooked in the ovens and burgers are cooked over the wood-fired grill.
The burgers at Clyde weigh in at half a pound. For $8.50 you get a burger cooked medium to medium-well and served on a house-baked bun. Your choice of one type of six different cheeses and any toppings are available at no extra charge. The burgers compete with local favorites such as the Stromberg-er ($8.50) at the Lighthouse Restaurant and the Cashew Burger ($3.75) at the Anchor Bar and Grill; the Clyde version is moist and juicy with a spicy kick. The wood-fired grill gives the burger a unique char taste that is unlike others found in town, and although the bread is a bit squishy, it is a nice balance of meat and bun.
Neapolitan pizzas are cooked to order on a homemade hand-tossed crust and made with flour and tomato sauce from Italy. Although still not at the pizza-as-science level of Punch, the pizzas at Clyde have the thin crust and subtle, balanced taste that makes a Neapolitan pizza refreshing. Cheese pizzas are $10.50 for a 16″ and $8 for a 10″. Pepperoni or sausage pizzas are $12.50 for a 16″ and $9.50 for a 10″. All extra toppings are $1 each.
Cannoli ($5.50) come three to an order, which would be an absurdly generous deal even if they were only so-so. The Clyde Iron Works version of the classic Italian dessert is far from traditional, featuring an amaretto chocolate mousse filling and big plugs of good quality dark chocolate on either end of a somewhat soggy but otherwise respectable shell.
Homemade hoagies such as the porketta (below) and homemade pot pies and pastas are also on the menu. Everything is made from scratch — from the pasta to the bread to slow-roasted pork for the porketta. The simple food and humble prices make the restaurant a gem for the Lincoln Park area, which is home to little more than the Duluth Grill. With 36,000 square feet of space, the Clyde Iron Works is ready for a crowd. It is a step away from downtown and in an area that is not usually seen as a hub for quality dining, but a trip out to Clyde Iron Works for a wood-fired burger or pizza is worth the it, if not for the taste then certainly because of the price.
Clyde Iron Works
Wood-fired Burgers and Pizza in Duluth
2920 W Michigan St
Duluth, MN 55806
OWNER / CHEF: Alex Giuliani / Rob Giuliani
Mon-Fri 11am-10pmSat 11am-11pm
ENTREE RANGE: $5-$10