Get too far out of the metro’s Minneapolis-St. Paul heart and you’re tempted to grade on a curve — “it’s good for White Bear Lake,” or “it’s pretty solid for Richfield.” More and more, however, A-games are diffusing throughout the region, and you’re seeing stuff like the excitement of Lyn65 (and its upcoming Popol Vuh and Central offshoots), the whole Travail / Rookery / Pig Ate My Pizza mishegoss, and the ongoing shock wave of militarily managed hype (and probable excellence) that is Bellecour in Wayzata.
Less splashy but also deserving of mention is the newly opened Station Pizzeria in Minnetonka. Located in a converted gas station, the restaurant is putting out some good pizzas and great accompaniments in a casual but tastefully decorated (hello, giant photo portrait of Prince) space.
The team behind this spot, owner Ryan Burnet (Barrio, Burch, Bar La Grassa, and more) and chef David Ellis (Bar La Grassa, 112 Eatery, Piccolo) are heavy hitters, and it shows. The menu is tight and focused, the decor is sophisticated and fun without being overbearing, and the food is, by and large, right.
Our Barrio Pizza ($17.50) was the closest we came to going off the rails. This combination of grilled chicken, pleasantly smoky bacon, red onion, tomato sauce, and mozzarella was so overloaded with fiery jalapeño slices that it begged for some relief; a barbecue-style sauce would have been an obvious fix. When we reheated our leftovers at home, we topped them with chunks of pineapple, and the result was a great slice of pizza. This was a concept one ingredient short of being a balanced pie. Heat notwithstanding, the pizza had other good qualities, chiefly a crust that was a deftly balanced blend of crispy and chewy. We’d give the reigning champs, Hello Pizza, the edge for a legit New-York-style experience, but Station pulls even with other credible local establishments such as Andrea Pizza.
A simple Margherita ($12.50 for a pie topped with fresh mozzarella, red sauce, and basil) was a lovely example of the format. It was light, crispy, chewy, fresh, and balanced. We order margheritas whenever we’re at a pizzeria because if you can do ’em right, you’re paying attention, and if you can’t … well, you’re likely sunk.
Our Greek Salad ($8) had the right idea, but the chef had a heavy hand on the oregano vinaigrette and a light one on the salt, which left the dish a little overdressed and underseasoned. The bones were correct, however. The romaine, grape tomatoes, feta cheese, artichokes, and Kalamata olives tasted fresh and were of good quality.
On the positive side of the ledger, the Ricotta ($8) with white balsamic, sea salt, and maple syrup was absolutely killer and possibly worth the drive from Minneapolis unto itself. The accompanying toast points were thin, crisp, and beautifully browned, the ideal vehicles for the restaurant’s seductive mix of supple cheese, gently tart vinegar, and naturally sweet maple. The cheese isn’t made in house, but that shouldn’t count against the dish, which is balanced and a must-order from this menu.
Even better, and a complete sleeper from our perspective, was the Lemon Tart ($6.50) we ordered for dessert. From the real whipped cream that topped it to the blueberry compote at its base, this was a dessert we’d be thrilled with anywhere on Earth. The lemon flavor was pure but not insistent, the buttery shell properly browned but not overbaked, and the accompaniments in balance and thoughtful. Historically, we haven’t looked for lemon tarts at pizzerias, but that has changed forever.
Pizzeria in Minnetonka
13008 Minnetonka Blvd
Minnetonka, MN 55305
OWNER / CHEF: Ryan Burnet / David Ellis
Sun-Mon 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Tue-Thu 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-11 a.m.
BAR: Beer and wine
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
ENTREE RANGE: $10-$17.50
NOISE LEVEL: Moderate
PARKING: Street parking