Montgomery is a small town not far from New Prague, a quiet town perhaps best known for being the self-proclaimed Kolacky Capital of the World, due to Franke’s Bakery’s prowess at baking the Eastern European delicacy. But right across the street from Franke’s is Pizzeria 201, situated in a charming, historic building (Montgomery’s downtown is a collection of charming, historical buildings). If you associate small town pizza with the dreck of Domino’s or Pizza Ranch, take heart — Pizzeria 201 is an entirely different operation.
First of all, much of what is on the menu could be considered farm-to-table. The pizzeria’s owners have a family farm, and they bring pork and beef from their farm to nearby Odenthal’s Meats for processing before serving it on their pizzas and in their sandwiches. They mostly use seasonings and herbs they’ve either grown themselves or purchased locally.
Which is all great, but wouldn’t really matter if the pizza were terrible. Fortunately, Pizzeria 201 delivers not only a good pizza provenance, but good pizza execution. The thin crust pizza was delicate and crunchy in a crackerlike way, yet it held up to the toppings just fine. Besides the usual choose-your-own-toppings option, there are 23 specialty pizzas ($14.50 for a 12 inch, $16.50 for a 14 inch). The list is rather a fun read — how could you not be tempted by pizzas called Chicken in a Grass Skirt or Roman Holiday?
Tempted, yes, but in the end we were more attracted to a couple of other choices. The Steakhouse (above) had incredibly thinly sliced, tender steak over ranch sauce (rather than tomato sauce) with some nicely crunchy vegetables (red onion, green pepper) and three kinds of cheese (mozzarella, provolone, and pepper jack). The end result was a rich, decadent pizza with lots of contrasting flavors and textures.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the number of spicy options on the specialty pizza list. The Flamin’ Bleu, the Fiery Pepperoni, the Hot Hen — who says small towns can’t handle a little heat? To test that theory, we ordered the Diavola (top). The Diavola comes in three iterations: Hot, Hotter, and Death. We thought Hotter would be a good baseline.
And it was. While the Hotter seemed, to our heat-loving palates, to be Hot rather than Hotter, there was enough fire to drain some sinuses and cause one person to get the hiccups. The Diavola starts with a bright tomato sauce mixed with crushed red pepper, then adds hot Italian sausage (OK, medium hot), a pepper blend containing chopped jalapenos, cayenne, and habaneros, then finishes off with peperoncini and more jalapenos, as well as mozzarella and pepper jack and some sweet peppers for balance. It was the kind of hot that actually has flavor, rather than just setting your mouth on fire. And the flavor was good, and we’d order it again — but next time, we’d be brave and order Death.
Pizzeria 201 has a changing menu of beer and wine, with several local brews — including beer from Montgomery Brewing and hard cider from Montgomery Orchard — among them. Service is friendly and fast. And best of all, when ordering pizza, we were asked: “You want squares or triangles?”
Farm-to-table pizza in Montgomery
201 1st St S
Montgomery, MN 55416
Wed 4-8 p.m.
Thu 4-9 p.m.
Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sun 4-8 p.m.
BAR: Beer, wine, hard cider
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
NOISE LEVEL: Amenable din
ENTREE RANGE: $6-$17
PARKING: Free street