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The Twin Cities' Best Pizza

We came. We saw. We conquered the entire pizza landscape, from gourmet to greaseball, in the name of research. You’re welcome.

The Twin Cities' Best Pizza
Photo by Terry Brennan

(page 2 of 5)


Authenticity // Punch

Punch introduced Twin Citizens to authentic, Neapolitan-style pizza and taught us that good ingredients don’t need to be buried under cheese. On the classic Margherita, there’s just enough of the white stuff to balance the pluck of the fresh basil, without overwhelming the crust’s subtle smoky char. And be sure to order extra crushed tomatoes and olive oil—the wetter the better. • Various metro locations, punchpizza.com

Tender Crust // Element Wood Fired Pizza

Element’s wood-lined dining room is cozy as a sauna, warmed by a wood-burning pizza oven. The crusts come out mild in flavor and super soft, but sturdy enough to stand up to the weight of the toppings on the shop’s titular vegetarian pizza, the Element: sun-dried tomatoes, roasted eggplant, arugula, and basil. • 96 NE Broadway St., Mpls., 612-379-3028, elementpizza.com

Mozz // Mozza Mia

Edina’s hippest pizza shop has its own mozzarella bar, serving silken cheese that’s made on site. Eat it fresh or on the Meat-a-Ball pie, which is spiked with red onion and hot peppers. Then ward off heartburn with a few sips of the house-made limoncello, or, better yet, the Sgroppino, which blends the sweet lemon liqueur with lemon sorbet and cream so it tastes rather like an adult slushie. • 3910 W. 50th St., Edina, 952-288-2882, mozzamia.com 

Fresh Thinking // Pizza Nea

What is a pizza without tomato sauce? And piled with a heap of salad? Pizza Nea’s Rucola—baked with smoked mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano, then topped with prosciutto and arugula as soon as it comes out of the oven—helps broaden local conceptions of Italy’s best-loved export. • 306 Hennepin Ave. E., Mpls., 612-331-9298, pizzanea.com

Coal-fired Cooking // Black Sheep

The garden-level digs of the Twin Cities’ first coal-fired pizza joint, in Minneapolis’s North Loop, make it feel more connected to its urban, East Coast origins. The pizzeria has since expanded to St. Paul, where the char-flecked crusts are just as good—and best when topped with spunky ingredients, such as the No. 5’s fennel sausage, hot salami, onion, and green olives. • 600 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-342-2625 • 512 N. Robert St., St. Paul, 651-227-4337, blacksheeppizza.com

Mod Nostalgia // Pizzeria Lola

The pizza you said ewww to as a kid is back, but Lola’s Hawaii Pie-O has better ingredients attuned to a sophisticated sweet-savory–loving palate: house-cured bacon, fresh pineapple, and serrano peppers. For dessert, there’s one more thing your teenage years lacked: luscious house-made vanilla soft-serve, daringly topped with sea salt and olive oil. (Lola's owners are growing their empire by opening a second shop at Edina’s 44th and France commercial node. The new Hello Pizza will offer a different style of pie and is expected to open in March.) • 5557 Xerxes Ave. S., Mpls., 612-424-8338, pizzerialola.com

Pile It On

Pepperoni is so passé. From mock duck to mac 'n cheese, here's where to find some of the most unconventional pizza toppings.

[1] The Reuben proves that sandwiches can make excellent pies. Umbria Pizza, various metro locations, umbriapizza.com

[2] Dan's Balsamic includes a splash of Italy’s famous vinegar. Pizza Biga, 4762 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-823-7333, pizzabiga.com

[3] Macaroni and Cheese makes pizza even more carb-tastic. Mesa Pizza, various locations, mesapizzamn.com

[4] The Galactic features homemade hemp pesto. Galactic Pizza, 2917 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-824-9100, galacticpizza.com

[5] The Rustler pairs vegetarian mock duck and pineapple with barbecue sauce. Pizza Luce, various locations, pizzaluce.com

[6] The Lady ZaZa piles on the kimchi for a spicy, fermented-cabbage kick. Pizzeria Lola, 5557 Xerxes Ave. S., Mpls., 612-424-8338, pizzerialola.com

[7] The Quattro Stagioni has a soft-cooked egg in the middle. Mozza Mia, 3910 W. 50th St., Edina 952-288-2882, mozzamia.com

[8] Thai Chicken offers a taste of Southeast Asia. Quick Fire Pizza, 116 South Main St., Stillwater, 651- 439-7009, quickfirepizza.com

[9] Hashbrown Palozza is breakfast pizza. Italian Pie Shoppe, various locations, italianpieshoppe.com

Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

Old to new | New to old
Feb 18, 2013 06:53 pm
 Posted by  Donut Lover

The original Broadway Pizza is in North Minneapolis, not NE Minneapolis. You have to cross the river to be in NE Mpls.

Mar 5, 2013 02:30 am
 Posted by  rukiddinme

I can't believe there was no mention of Gina Maria's Pizza in your article. Our family agrees hands down that Gina Maria's is THE BEST! We've been ordering pizza from their Minnetonka & Eden Prairie locations for over 15 years. Whenever we have company over & order their pizza, our guests always ask where the pizza was from and say it's the best pizza they've ever had. We constantly get requests for it when we have out of town guests. Their "thin crust" is anything but thin and has that perfect combination of amazing sauce and a generous amount of REAL cheese. Their 3 meat pizza is our favorite (sausage, pepperoni & canadian bacon).

Mar 14, 2013 12:10 pm
 Posted by  MSPPizzalover!

Pizzeria Lola??? Really??? It is the most overpriced, overhyped, pizza in the cities. Plus, I hear they're having regulation issues. Wow, I'm shocked by this cover. I've been there twice now and have been very disappointed both times. Will not go back.

Mar 21, 2013 01:21 pm
 Posted by  MplsGuy

Wow, way to be late. Pizzeria Lola is old news and was the most over rated place around. Expensive and not good at all!

Mar 27, 2014 04:40 pm
 Posted by  Coach

Excuse me.....But as a former 54+ yr Chicago resident I think I can make this statement with some degree of expertise. CHICAGO pizza is THIN. Back years ago, two thick pizza joints opened in downtown near all the business hotels. Gino's and Uno's. The traveling conventioneers could walk to these joints and they did....then traveling hime telling their friends about this new type of "Chicago pizza". Nonsense. Go to the neighborhoods and all the pizza is THIN. Every bar makes thin, the great legendary joints of Chicago make thin (Nick and Vito's; Beggars; Rinaldi's etc). THIN.

Ask anyone from the neighborhoods....they'll tell you thin pizza is for real Chicagoans ....leave the thick stuff for the transferees in Naperville and the tourists !!

In Minnesota there is not much ....but one solid "za" is at Dukes in Oakdale. Great owner, providing great service.

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