Can any other area say this?: One of Minnesota’s James Beard Award finalists owns a slice shop. Of course, it’s a fantastic pizza place, but Hello Pizza is (by design) non-cheffy, non-stuffy, and non-boring.
Ann Kim, photo courtesy Hello Pizza
You can tell it’s designed by the Princess of Pizza in this town, Ann Kim, who just found out this week that she made the short list of semifinalists for the James Beard Best Chef: Midwest award (along with the fantastic Steven Brown and Gavin Kaysen). They make their dough in house, every day, and it’s so good I’ve ranked it in my top tier of Twin Cities pizzas. It celebrates five years this weekend. “It snuck up on us,” Kim says. “It’s sort of the middle-child syndrome. Compared to Lola and Young Joni, everyone forgets about it.”
The crust is soft yet crispy, and it’s not as charred or as blistered as you might expect of a Neapolitan Punch-style pizza. It’s cooked in a deck oven, not a wood-fire one as at Lola and Young Joni. “I really wanted to provide an option for people on the go—parents with kids that weren’t going to wait for an hour or two at Lola,” Kim says. The toppings are made with the same sauce and the same quality as Lola and Young Joni, but the dough is totally different. “This crust is made with an Italian 00 flour. We use a different fermentation process,” she says. Hello sells an 18-inch pizza, so “I needed something that could withstand a bigger slice. It’s higher protein, higher gluten. It has the stretch that can withstand all of that.”
The classic pies haven’t changed over the last five years: The Hello Rita is olive oil, garlic, basil, and oregano. One of my favorites, the Hello Trinity, has homemade fennel sausage, pepperoni in a natural casing, and cremini mushrooms. You can’t go wrong with the meatball, or the artichoke and spinach (piquillo peppers make that pie pop).
Holy Trinity Pizza photo courtesy: Hello Pizza
The slices are all less than $5, the pepperoni is $4. Get a smoky greens salad (with bleu cheese and sherry vinaigrette), or a Korean Cowboy meatball sub (beef/pork balls with gochujang barbecue sauce and toppings that mimic a banh mi), and take a minute to marvel that you’re enjoying the talents of a James Beard Award finalist, for only a couple bucks. “I’m so proud of what we’ve done there. The neighborhood has embraced it,” Kim says. When I told her that I thought the area could handle five Hello Pizzas, she said that her company is more focused on opening one-off, special restaurants for their specific neighborhoods, but “never say never.”
Hello Pizza celebrates its fifth anniversary on Saturday, March 17. You’ll get free photo-booth tickets and prize drawings.
3904 Sunnyside Rd., Minneapolis