If the Richfield water tower is the north anchor of the 66th and Penn corridor, Fireside Pizza is the south. In business for 50 years, Fireside Pizza looks the part of a small-town eatery and gathering place; it’s lined with local sports memorabilia and photos of little league teams the joint has sponsored. The atmosphere has a homey, dark-wood-booth vibe including two floor-to-ceiling plastic trees and — yes — a fireplace. There’s also a patio.
Cheese bread is a stand-out dish in keeping with the place’s style: A half-order for $3.95 contained three slices of crisp Italian bread loaded with melted pizza cheese. Delicious. “Just enough grease,” said my friend. Served with a bowl of warm red sauce, it was hearty and well-executed.
When it comes to pizza, the Fireside focus seems to be above the crust, which is a glorified Saltine: white-flour, crisp, and ultra-thin. As a whole, the pizza lacks the complex layers and creative flavors of local stalwarts like its thin-crust competitor, Red’s Savoy, and Pizza Luce — maybe, however, that’s the point. The toppings are hit or miss — on one visit, a custom pizza came topped with a few mealy Roma slices, tasteless mushrooms and onions, and average pepperoni. On a second visit, a sausage-and-sauerkraut pizza was better. Low on sauce, with just the right amount of cheese, everything above the crust was tasty and picture-perfect.
Overall value is moderate at best: a small cheese pizza, which one semi-burly adult with any sort of stomach could easily polish off, runs $9.45; toppings are $1.25. Larges start at $11.49. Consider the following when ordering: This is thin-crust pizza and you can eat a lot of it.
Spaghetti and meatballs weren’t exceptional, but adequate. The plump meatballs had a nice char, as though they had been cooked on a griddle, and the slightly spicy sauce (same as with the cheese bread appetizer) was delicious.
A ham grinder (or “sandwich,” if you prefer), served cold was the best deal at $6.95. It arrived layered generously with ham, tomatoes, lettuce, shredded cheddar, and “special sauce.”
BEST BET: Cheese bread with red sauce, a mid-American classic done true to form, or the ham sandwich.
Pizza in Richfield
6736 Penn Ave S
Richfield, MN 55423
OWNER: Rich Thompson
ENTREE RANGE: $7-15
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
BAR: Beer and wine