If you’ve been subscribing to our newsletters, you’ve probably noticed that pizza has sucked up a fair bit of ink. And it should: along fried chicken, it’s one of the big pandemic pivots, a food that is almost universally popular, easy to market, and (maybe most critically) stands up to the rigors of delivery and delayed service.
So as we wrap up what we hope will be the worst year for restaurants (and people in general) in a very, very long time, here’s a compilation of opportunities to pick up some of the newest (and in many cases best) pizza in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Located in Linden Hills, Rosalia calls the old Rose Street Patisserie space home. Chef Daniel Del Prado, who is behind Colita and Martina, opened the new restaurant in Martina’s back yard. Literally. Google maps first directed me to Martina, and only a confused stroll around a mostly-empty hardware store parking lot brought me to Rosalia.
The restaurant itself has a cozy feel to it. Set back from the street and wedged between two buildings, it almost feels like a secret cove. The patio is a nice place to sit and enjoy the atmosphere. When I visited, it was filled mostly with early 30s “young professional” couples with an influencer vibe. But don’t hold that against them. Inside, Rosalia has a brick oven from Naples to give the pizza an authentic flavor, as well as high ceilings and modern accents to set the overall feel.
As much as I loved the hidden glade vibe, I was even more pleased with the food. The Wood-Fired Pepperoni Pizza ($13) looked as good in the box as it tasted. The bubbly starch of the crust had a bold wood-fired flavor without being charred and stiff. Soft, with a good balance of salt and savory crust flavor, it was an excellent vessel for the toppings. One place I find that a good pizza is made or betrayed is in the sauce. Rosalia did not disappoint here. A subtle basil and oregano kick backed up a tomato-forward flavor with just enough tartness to be enjoyed, but to not overpower the creaminess of the mozzarella or the kick of the pepperoni. The pizza did go light on the cheese, leaning more heavily on the sauce-crust flavors, leaving me wanting a little more gooey topping.
I also had the Fugazza Slice ($4), a traditional Argentinan-style pizza. The Fugazza slice was cut in a rectangle, with the ingredients sitting on top of a significantly thicker, focaccia-style crust. The spongey breadiness of the base complimented the healthy helping of mozzarella topped with charred onions that brought a nice hearty onion flavor to the slice. Overall I truly enjoyed this new (to me) take on pizza, and my only wish is that the oregano seasoning would have been paired with something to give it a little more flavor depth. — Eli Radtke
Chicken Liver Pate at Rosalia
The newly opened Rosalia in Linden Hills has garnered some well deserved praise for their pizza. When you place your takeout order (Bianca or Funghi for me, please), don’t sleep on the side dishes, namely the Chicken Liver Pate. The pate itself is silky smooth—one of the lightest renditions of the dish I can recall—which is further lifted up by the wonderful addition of roasted strawberries, shallots, and dressed parsley. That salad brings an acidic counterpunch to the creamy pate, and it comes with a half-pizza worth of their excellent wood-fired crust to scoop it all up. — John Garland
Rosalia Pizza, 2811 West 43rd St, Minneapolis, Mon-Thu 5-9pm, Fri-Sat 4-10pm, Sun 4-9pm
MOONFLOWER PIZZA AT THE FRENCH HEN CAFE
Where Rosalia felt like finding a well-attended but tucked-away location, Moon Flower felt like finding a cool record shop in the basement. Located in the back of The French Hen in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood of St. Paul, MoonFlower Pizza opened on September 10, slinging back-alley pizza for order or pickup. The space itself is located entirely outside, with a small pizza-assembly line and two sleek, futuristic-looking single-pizza portable ovens that mimic wood firing by utilizing propane. If you order there, you can watch the cooks roll out the dough, paddle it into an oven, and have it to you in no time at all. The wood-lattice structure and hanging string lights give off a cozy, almost tiki-like vibe, and the service was great.
Now, forgive me if I run on a bit here, but I am romantic about pizza, and I can’t recommend MoonFlower enough. Their Margherita Pizza ($12) was great, sporting a robustly tangy sauce that brought out the classic flavors. But I truly fell in love with the Sausage & Mushroom Pizza ($14). Both pies got a little charred on the bottom, but the crust, in general, was incredible. Chewy and slightly salty, with enough of the filling, starchy flavor to make its presence known, but play second chair to what was on top.
The garlic red sauce on the Sausage and Mushroom pizza was herby and applied thinly enough to be part of a whole, instead of making the pizza a sloppy mess. Andouille sausage, roasted oyster mushrooms, a mozzarella/provolone cheese mix, and pickled okra all combined to make a truly unique pizza profile. It was hearty and meaty, but the pickled okra kicked perfectly with the tomato-forward garlic sauce to create a noteworthy slice. I finished the entire personal pizza in the car, and immediately texted my friends about it. My only complaint was that there wasn’t more of it to enjoy. — Eli Radtke
MoonFlower Pizza at the French Hen Cafe, 518 Selby Ave, St Paul, Thu-Sun 5-9pm
LIL’ CHOVI AT THE BUNGALOW CLUB
The final stop on my tour of new places entering the pizza pantheon was Lil’ Chovi Sunday Service, based out of The Bungalow Club on Lake Street. Unlike the other two locations, Lil Chovi was run out of the same kitchen as the regular menu. While I understand the sentiment of running Lil’ Chovi on days when The Bungalow Club is closed, the limited availability of the menu can be a pain. But, if you do make it out to The Bungalow Club they have one of the greatest patios in the metro for diners to enjoy the last breath of autumn before winter comes.
Whereas the last two spots were wood-fired style pizza, Lil’ Chovi specializes in Sicilian-style, thick, crusty pizzas, offered in sheet sizes. The Quarter-Sheet Sicilian ($13) with house sausage and Spanish anchovies ($2.50 Extra Each) paired well with a crisp Fall Sunday afternoon. The pizza had a spicy profile and bold flavors with the anchovies and sausage pairing well with the thicker and spicier sauce. While I am not the biggest fan of the Sicilian-style sheet pizza, the crust had a satisfying crunch as well as a nice airy structure that provided volume without filling you up just on bread.
I did think the proportions of the ingredients could have been assembled better. As Gucci Mane once said, “A man with no sauce is lost, but that same man can get lost in the sauce.” On that delicate scale, I thought this pizza was under sauced. This combined with the Sicilian-style crust made for a very flavorful, but dry, slice. I did really enjoy the saltiness of the anchovies pairing with the meaty kick of the sausage, but again here the topping could have used more cheese. Lil’ Chovi also has guidelines for how many people each size feeds, and for the amount of pizza that came in a quarter-sheet, this meal was on the spendy side. — Eli Radtke
Lil’ Chovi at the Bungalow Club, 4300 E Lake St, Minneapolis, 4-8pm on Thursday and 12-8pm on Sunday
Pepperoni and Green Olive Pizza at SMITH COFFEE
Smith Coffee in Eden Prairie rejiggered its physical location to include a walk-up order station, and added a picnic night on Wednesdays. The menu is limited, but includes items like this (enormous) pepperoni and green olive pizza, baked in an outdoor pizza oven to get the glorious balance of a crispy crust with chewy interior. Toppings were generous and flavorful, and Smith’s backyard area is the perfect spot for a distancing picnic. Pro tip: Order ahead. They’re strictly limiting quantities, and people were seen sadly leaving without food while we were there. — Amy Rea
Smith Coffee, 8107 Eden Prairie Rd, Eden Prairie, 8am-3pm
Spicy Peanut Chicken Pizza at GEEK LOVE CAFE
And walking several blocks up Minnehaha from Peace Coffee’s former cafe, we come to Geek Love Cafe, the pizza-slinging arm of the remarkable Moon Palace bookstore. Prompted by a Twitter exchange with local author Doug Mack (who wrote this week’s story about walking tacos) we impulse purchased the nightly special, a Spicy Peanut Chicken Pizza, and gosh are we glad that we did. This herb-forward pie comes on a deliciously chewy crust, and manages to introduce mild, complex spicy heat, pickled jalapeños, roasted garlic, and roasted chicken thighs without anything clashing or overwhelming anything else. It’s delicious, and if you see it on offer, grab it up. — James Norton
Geek Love Cafe, 3032 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, Tue-Sat 4pm-8pm
Tavern-style Thick Crust Pizza at BRICKSWORTH BEER COMPANY
Pizza maker Angelo Pennacchio’s inspiration for Bricksworth Beer Company’s pizza is the tavern pies of Wisconsin. Yes, they are made Detroit style, with a homemade sweet red sauce and a slightly-shallower-than-Chicago crust, but it’s the blackened char on the edge Pennacchio strives for. The 8” x 10” rectangular pies are loaded deep into a chewy crust, but the crisp, blackened edges hold it all together.
The basic elements of the pizza are well-done but simple. The toppings are when Pennacchio has his fun. Every ingredient, save for the pepperoni, is made from scratch and paired with unexpected foils. The Stugots pie—an anchovy pizza topped with roasted red peppers, goat cheese, and a fat meatball—tastes like a Pizza Hut secret menu item, impossibly familiar and approachable given the radical combination. Stugots is a staple, but each week, Pennacchio slaps together a “fucking wild pizza special” that’s available for a limited time, echoing Luchador’s wild theme nights and Monday night sandwich specials.
One early special threw together bulgogi chicken, sweet sesame pickles, and roasted red pepper gochu. In mid-November, Pennacchio couldn’t help himself—for two weeks he featured a limited edition pie with seasoned beef, cheese sauce, pico de gallo, and pickled jalapeños. It was named “the Luch.” — Jerard Fagerberg
Bricksworth Beer Company, Nicollet Business Center, 12257B Nicollet Ave. South, Burnsville, Thu-Sat 4pm-8pm, Sun 11am-4pm