Directions: Your Pizza Personality can be coaxed from this simple quiz. Each of the test’s four sections will give you a letter based on your answers. For instance, if you’re truly an Italophile, the first section will reveal it, and give you the corresponding letter “i”. After completing the test, you should have a four-letter code. Then match your code to the corresponding type in the list below to discover your innermost secrets—and learn who has the very best pizza for you! Finally, test your friends and loved ones. Now you know why it’s so hard to agree on a pizza place!
BY DARA MOSKOWITZ GRUMDAHL
Now combine your four letters and find your type—and preferred pizza place—below!
Your Type: ITCS
You feel that a thing should be done extremely well or not at all. You’d rather remain single than settle, and you’d prefer to wait in the rain for a good burger than eat McDonald’s in your car. You resist the label of perfectionist because you feel that nothing in your life is, in fact, perfect, but secretly, you suspect that your high standards have generated a more perfect life for you than those endured by most of your friends.
Your Pizza: Punch Neapolitan Pizza (the original)
For the Perfectionist, no pizza will ever equal the pizza at the original Punch. The pizzaioli—the people making the pizza—there are lifers, many having worked at this very Punch for years. That means that not one pizza that comes out of their oven is anything less than what it should be. The servers, too, are old-timers, and they work with the pizzaioli in a careful ballet. There’s also the straight-from-Italy ingredients, the deep understanding that certain customers like certain kinds of pizza (try a wet pizza some time—it comes with extra tomato sauce, extra cheese, and extra olive oil, and can be a beautiful thing). But even if the St. Paul Punch, in Highland Park, is just 10 percent better than the chain’s other outlets, it’s worth the drive, and, usually, the wait, for the Perfectionist. Punch Neapolitan Pizza, 704 Cleveland Ave. S., St. Paul, 651-696-1066, punchpizza.com
Also Try: Arezzo Restaurant, 5057 France Ave. S., Mpls., 612-696-744, arezzoristorante.org
Your Type: ITCL
You aim for the perfect, but firmly believe that the perfect is the enemy of the good and that at some point in the project you have to gather up the loose ends and call it done. You believe in the infinite power of the reasonable deadline.
Your Pizza: Punch Neapolitan Pizza (all other locations)
Fast and great, the Punch Pizza outlets in Eden Prairie, Wayzata, on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue, in northeast Minneapolis, and near Lake Calhoun offer Neapolitan pizzas with the hint of wood smoke and the pristinely authentic toppings that make them the definition of their genre. True, sometimes you hit a busy patch and the ambience can be a little more hectic than relaxing, but you always get in. punchpizza.com
Also Try: Tino’s, 19215 Highway 7, Shorewood, 952-470-9663, tinospizzeria.com
Your Type: INCS
You notice and evaluate every detail, and you don’t understand how others let imperfect things stand. Artists and tastemakers agree you have exquisite taste—yet, strangely, small-town folks who wouldn’t know the Venice Bienniale if it fell on their head often think you’re one of them. How do you do it? Perhaps it’s your ability to genuinely appreciate the details that strike you as worth maintaining.
Your Pizza: Bricks Neapolitan Pizza
Bricks, in Hudson, Wisconsin, has scrupulous Italian standards, but in true Wisconsin eat-more-dairy fashion, they bring innovation to the classical Neapolitan form. For an example of how you can be traditional and revolutionary, try a pizza with ricotta hidden in the crust’s edge and thick cream on top. Bricks Neapolitan Pizza, 407 Second St., Hudson, Wisconsin, 715-377-7670, eatbricks.com
Also Try: Toast Wine Bar & Café, 415 N. First St., Mpls., 612-333-4305, toastwinebarandcafe.com
Your Type: ITPS
THE PRACTICAL TRAVELER
You love travel, but when traveling you find that your most memorable moments come not while touring monuments, but while getting to know the locals. You are able to talk to people in all walks of life, be they business icons, artists, or janitors, and yet, oddly, no one ever suspects that you talk just as easily to the people they scorn.
Your Pizza: Pizza Nea
A leader among Minnesota’s Neapolitan-pizza purists, Pizza Nea attracts its devoted (sometimes rabidly devoted) following by offering those elite, European-correct pizzas with a side of gosh-darn friendliness. Service here is accommodating, outgoing, even, dare we say it, sweet. For those who have expectations of perfection but know the value of a smile, Pizza Nea is always the top of the pack. Pizza Nea, 306 E. Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-331-9298, pizzanea.com
Also Try: Pazzaluna, 360 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 651-223-7000, pazzaluna.com
Your Type: ITPL
THE POST SOUL
You’ve known financial hardship and financial comfort—and you’ve decided that comfort is better. You have worked hard to make sure the wolf is not at your door, and no one appreciates little luxuries more than you. Stand out in the cold for a pizza? No thanks. You’d rather sink into a nice cozy booth and be plied with the finest wines. Let dime-store rebels scoff. They don’t call it the good life for nothing.
Your Pizza: Ciao Bella
The best-kept pizza secret in the Twin Cities is the pizza at Ciao Bella, Bacio, and Zelo. All three restaurants were once owned by Rick Webb, before Zelo and Bacio were sold to a long-time manager so that Webb could focus on opening more Ciao Bella outlets (as of presstime, there was a second one in Woodbury scheduled to open in late June). The first thing you need to know about the pizzas at these restaurants is that the “flatbreads” are also pizzas—they just have thinner crusts. The next thing you need to know is that the restaurants essentially follow all the rules of Neapolitan pizza places—the ovens are wood-fired, the crusts are allowed to rise for a long time and develop complex flavors, and the ingredients are scrupulously sourced. What’s great about the Ciao Bella/Zelo/Bacio miracle is that they serve perfect Italian pizzas with all the bells and whistles of a fine restaurant—a killer wine list, professional service, lovely salads, even a first-rate cheeseburger. Don’t believe it? Even the snobbiest pizza purist would be hard-pressed to find fault with the delicious prosciutto di Parma flatbread, a hand-pulled, smoky crust topped with fresh mozzarella and lots of excellent ham. Every bite is exactly what you hope for: full of flavor, showcasing the genius of Italy, but doing so with confidence and grace, not braggadocio. Pair that flatbread, or a more traditional pizza, such as the ones topped with Molinari salami, with a good Chianti—and you’ve got Italian perfection, presented in good old-fashioned enjoyable American luxury. Ciao Bella, 3501 Minnesota Dr., Bloomington, 952-841-1000, ciaobella.com
Your Type: INPL
THE JOLLY TRAVELER
No one gets a kick out of travel like you. You love the over-the-top European tea services, the extravagant, silly Italian-glass chandeliers, the froth and mirth of it all. At home, you surround yourself with subtle reminders of your travels, and people at work have little idea what you’re really like when you’re at your best—on vacation.
Your Pizza: Campiello
Campiello is another of Minnesota’s great sleeper pizzas. If the competition in the Neapolitan pizza wars wasn’t so fierce, the world would probably beat a path to Campiello’s door. But the competition is fierce, and thus Campiello is left as a secret joy to the lucky few smart enough to treasure it. The oak-fired pizzas have crusts with the perfect whiff of wood smoke to them, and the toppings range from the classic to the inventive (but not dumb) territory. However, while the pizzas at Campiello are excellent, it’s actually the wine list that makes Campiello the best pizza in the state for travelers, because it offers an irresistible collection of world-class versions of the Sangiovese-based wines such as Chianti, Brunello, and some SuperTuscans, which make pizza not just a meal, but a divine experience.
Your Type: INCL
You have an eye for the little things. In restaurants you notice the size of the fleur de sel on the salad, the quality of a restaurant’s balsamic vinegar, the freshness of the flowers in the vases. Because of your eye for detail, you frequently go out of your way for a better quality experience. Some call you persnickety—but you think life with low standards isn’t worth living.
Your Pizza: Rinata or Al Vento
Chef Jon Hunt owns two south Minneapolis restaurants, Al Vento and Rinata, and his pizzas are some of the most distinctive in town. He uses a process that develops complexity in the crust, and he makes his own sauce from fresh Roma tomatoes slow-roasted with good olive oil. This simple combination—good crust, good sauce—is cooked in a convection oven, and topped with mozzarella that Hunt and his cooks make themselves, or with your choice of classic ingredients like salami or specials like prosciutto and eggs. All this simplicity somehow adds up to a pizza that’s scrumptious: big, bold, and true. No wonder Hunt’s little restaurants, famous for more complex Southern Italian dishes, have been known to serve some 40 pizzas a night.
Also Try: Piazza’s Italian Ristorante, 8851 Seventh Ave. N., Golden Valley, 763-542-8107, piazzasitalian.com
Your Type: INPS
The Bookish Sensualist
You’re a reader, a thinker, a lover of obscure resource materials, be they books, seed catalogs, or old advertisements. Little things stay with you. Often a stray thought that has bedeviled you for years rushes to the fore and becomes actionable, even profitable.
Your Pizza: Bibo
Bibo, the casual Italian newcomer in Eagan, makes pizzas that really seem, well, Italian—which sounds trite, but isn’t. That Italian-ness springs from the fact that there’s something earthy about them, something plain and humble, even though, under close examination, they’re not plain at all. The prosciutto e rucola pizza, for instance, has a bready, well-developed crust that is crisp outside and tender inside, and it is glazed with sweet, fresh mozzarella and liberally layered with the best available prosciutto. To add to the textural complexity and the interplay of sweet and salt, fresh arugula is scattered over the pizza, rendering each bite bready, salty, sweet, creamy, peppery, herbal, fresh, and aged. That’s a pizza! Bibo Restaurant & Wine Bar, 1629 Lena Court, Eagan, 651-686-8482, restaurantbibo.com
Also Try: Pizza Biga, 4762 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-823-7333, turtlebread.com
Your Type: ATCS
THE VIGOROUS AMERICAN
You know who Langston Hughes and Cab Calloway are, and you sometimes deploy five-dollar words in unlikely situations. You’ve been known to bring books to bars. Even with all your brainpower, though, you have a spot in your heart for a bleacher seat with a cold beer to keep you company.
Your Pizza: Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza
When Jordan Smith, a hard-working chef who previously opened more than 20 Minnesota restaurants, (including the original incarnation of Mission American Kitchen and D’Amico and Sons), opened Black Sheep, the restaurant was a revelation. So this was American pre–World War II pizza in its purest incarnation! The ovens are fired by super-hot blue coal, which allows the crust to be incomparably light, and the toppings, like artisanal American salamis, to be fiercely cooked. Any fan of classic New York pizza swoons when Black Sheep pizzas hit the table. They’re so thin, so crisp, so bold, so zesty, so refined. Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza, 600 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-342-2625, blacksheeppizza.com
Also Try: Broders’ Cucina Italiana, 2308 W. 50th St., Mpls., 612-925-3113, broders.com
Your Type: ANCS
THE DIFFERENT DRUMMER
If people don’t want to join you for the best pizza in town, screw ’em. They’ll come around. They always do. You’re comfortable being ahead of the curve and on the less beaten path, because, often, you are. By the time people realize that your way is the best way, you’re on to something new.
Your Pizza: Crescent Moon Pizza
The Afghani “football” pizza is another Minnesota original, a magical creation that was born at the landmark northeast Minneapolis Afghani bakery, Crescent Moon. It developed a cult following, and this winter it got a stand-alone restaurant of its own near the U. The cult status evolved for a few reasons. Mainly it’s because the crust is just wonderful: thick, tender, a tad sweet, robust, a bit like an Italian focaccia. It’s topped with any number of traditional pizza toppings or, even better, Afghani originals like a sour, spicy sautéed spinach blend or spicy beef which is like gyro meat, but contains only beef. The football shape is then cut in big squares—offering, perhaps, a compromise in the triangle-cut-versus-square-cut wars—and served with a hot-and-sour cilantro dipping sauce. It’s great. The spiciness of the toppings, the richness of the crust, and the sourness of the dipping sauce combine to make a complex, satisfying, novel—but not wacky!—taste sensation. Crescent Moon Pizza, 1517 Como Ave. SE, Mpls., 612-767-3313, crescentmoonfoods.net
Also Try: Basil’s Pizza Palace, 301 Water St. S., Northfield, 507-663-1248
Your Type: ANPL
THE HEARTIER PARTIER
You’ve never understood the whole “less is more” thing—more is, quite obviously, more! And it’s nice to have more, because you can share it, and once you’ve got more people sharing more—you’ve got a party! Oh yeah, and why not put macaroni and cheese on a pizza? This isn’t communist China.
Your Pizza: Umbria
Minnesota is legendary for our snow and ice, but if anyone else in the country actually paid attention, they’d know that what we really should be legendary for is eccentricity—what else do Charles Lindbergh, Prince, the Cohen Brothers, Garrison Keillor, Bob Dylan, Diablo Cody, Jesse Ventura, Charles Schulz, Michelle Bachmann, and Al Franken have in common? We’re tournament-level eccentric around here. We even have a pizza culture that’s so eccentric that it makes Los Angeles’s pastrami-wrapped hot dogs look tame. You didn’t know this? Then pilot your SUV out to the booming homegrown chainlet Umbria, with locations in Plymouth, Eagan, Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Blaine, Woodbury, and Shakopee (and 20 more before the year 2020, I bet). Once at Umbria, prepare to have your mind blown: mac-and-cheese pizza. Bacon double-cheeseburger pizza (with dill pickles). Pot-roast pizza. Shockingly enough, these off-the-wall, unnervingly inventive Umbria pizzas are really good. The thick layer of mashed potatoes on the pot-roast pizza, for example, makes it taste like a Greek boureki or even an open Cornish pasty, while the straight-from-the-box orange pasta on the mac-and-cheese pizza tastes creamy and comforting, and, again, not unlike a classic Greek casserole. Needless to say, the place serves plenty of other more traditional pizzas—like one layered with gyro meat, which shines when dunked into a side of their zesty yogurt tzatziki sauce. Okay, they go more traditional than that. However, once you try a few Umbria pizzas you quickly learn that these are eccentric pizzas in a uniquely Minnesota way: They’re hotdish, cooked in an edible container. Ever wondered where Minnesota hotdish culture went in the age of women in the workforce? It went to Umbria for pizza. Umbria, Multiple locations, umbriapizza.com
Also Try: Green Mill, Multiple locations, greenmill.com
Your Type: ATCL
THE REC ROOM MONARCH
Home is where the heart is—and for you, the fun, too. You don’t see much point in going out when you can stay in. Let the pizza purists rant and rave about their fancy ovens. You know you can do some careful shopping and do it better yourself—without waiting a single second for a table.
Your Pizza: Homemade Pizza Company
Walk into the Homemade Pizza Company for the first time and you’ll be shocked at how chilly it is. There are no blasting pizza ovens, no sizzling cheese. That’s because they hand you your pizzas as plastic-wrapped disks of dough topped with fresh, often-local toppings, like Wisconsin mozzarella or fresh baby spinach. You take these disks home and cook them in your own oven for about 15 minutes. As they cook, you can assemble one of HPC’s salads, like the delicious one with mixed greens, sliced pears, walnuts, and blue cheese. You may also uncork a bottle of wine, and get out all the fancy placemats and candleholders you never have time to use. When your 15 minutes have passed—ta-da!—your oven opens to reveal healthy, fresh, simple pizzas that look just like those in fancy food magazines. As you set yours on your table take a moment to marvel and wonder why there isn’t a professional photographer around to capture this stylish bit of domesticity. Now, sit down for a feast. Homemade Pizza Locations: St. Paul, Apple Valley, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Wayzata, homemadepizza.com
Also Try: Heggie’s Pizza, 1115 Sixth Ave. NE, Milaca, 320-982-7777, heggiespizza.com
Your Type: ANPS
THE LIFE OF THE PARTY
You work to play, and, when playing, you play like you mean it. The parties! The vacations! You’re the pizza consumer most likely to take your pizzas by motorcycle to a campground to warm them up over a campfire.
Your Pizza: Mesa
If there’s a common complaint about Twin Cities pizza, it’s that we don’t have any good pizza-by-the-slice places. Anyone who says that has never been to Mesa Pizza, the best thing to happen to college since drinking. Located, of course, in the heart of Dinkytown, Mesa is another eccentric, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink pizza, like Umbria and Dinkytown rival Duffy’s (home of the dried-mango jerk-chicken pizza). However, even in this land of eccentric over-the-top pizzas, Mesa stands alone: They are the only people loony enough to put French fries on pizza. Seriously. World, meet Mesa’s barbecue-steak-and-fry pizza! Yes, thinly sliced French fries and surprisingly tender steak, united by a very peppery barbecue sauce and melted cheese. Order one of these, or a pizza topped with tri-color tortellini (no kidding), or a black-bean-and-avocado pizza, which tends to emerge from the oven as black as a manhole cover, because the coating of black-beans is just that thick and dark. Why should you order these nutty pizzas? Because if you do, you may just be the only person over the age of 22 who ever has—and you’ll be so youthfully cutting edge you may as well be illegally snowboarding down the frozen rails of an abandoned parking garage. If illegal snowboarding and French fries on pizza sound equally unappealing, you’re too old to go to Mesa, but you should still know what those crazy kids are up to because they tend to invent the trends that we all must deal with in 10 years. Get ready: They even have a pizza with rice on it. Mesa Pizza, 1323 Fourth St. SE, Mpls., 612-436-3006, mesapizzamn.com
Your Type: ATPS
THE GOOD EGG
You always go to the funeral. You carry jumper cables. You are drawn to people with nice families. You can sense a beauty on the verge of a nervous breakdown from 30 paces—and stay well away. You think food writers are goofy because they write about food as if it was consumed in a vacuum; you’d rather eat in your car with your friends than eat at the best restaurant with a bunch of social climbers.
Your Pizza: Red’s Savoy
The old-school Minnesota pizza has very specific criteria. The crust is exquisitely thin, the size of a burly tortilla. The sauce is intense and sweet, somewhere between ketchup and marinara. The cheese is abundant. Put these together and you’ve got something concentrated, sweet, filling, and intense, like a Crock-Pot of Lil’ Smokies in sauce or a Canadian Club and Coke (either of which go very well with a classic Minnesota pizza). Needless to say, old-school Minnesota pizza is cut in a checkerboard of squares; the useless little dinky triangles on the side are what you eat while you’re waiting for the interior to cool, while the meaty inner slices are dinner. Add hamburger (that’s sautéed ground beef to you out-of-towners) and sauerkraut, and you’ve got a pizza that’s essentially a casserole with its own utensil—the crust. The king of old-school Minnesota pizza has to be Red’s Savoy, which is famous for having a whisper-thin crust and enough cheese to get you through the winter. The evidence of Red’s preeminence is that they have taken over the space once occupied by one of Uptown Minneapolis’s leading New York–style pizza places, Golooney’s. And if you’re at all surprised about this, you’re not from around here.
Red’s Savoy (Downtown), 421 E. Seventh St., St. Paul, 651-227-1437
Also Try: Beek’s King of Pizza, 6325 Minnetonka Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-929-0095; 5336 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-827-2567
Your Type: ANCL
THE THOUGHTFUL SENSUALIST
You don’t understand technology-haters. Every decade, life gets easier, richer, more equitable, and more amusing. You figure that constant worry and hand-wringing is, in fact, a useful engine for progress, but you never let other people’s stress block your bliss.
Your Pizza: Crave
Both Crave locations—in the Galleria and at the Mall of America—feature wood-burning ovens. And, at both locations, the wood-fired pizzas and flatbreads (with their thinner crusts) are some of the best options on the menu. The grape-and-apple pizza, for instance, with tangy local Amablu cheese, is a Midwestern version of the pizza that has been taking the coasts by storm. The shaved-rib-eye pizza combines everything you like about sandwiches with the inherent grace of pizza. The spiced-pineapple-and-prosciutto combination takes the classic Hawaiian pizza, lightens it, and makes it fresher; it’s also the kind of rare, rare pizza that goes well with Chardonnay.
Crave (Galleria), 3520 W. 70th St., Edina, 952-697-6000
Also Try: Tavern on France, 6740 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-358-6100, tavernonfrance.com
Your Type: ATPL
THE LAWN CHAIR CONNOISSEUR
You could spend a lot more money on luxuries if you chose to—but you don’t. It’s not that you don’t appreciate the good life, you just aren’t too interested in its trappings. Give you a warm coat, a working car, and a cookout, and you’re happy. Angst is for losers. Fire up the grill!
Your Pizza: Leonardo’s
Homesick Chicago transplants have been known to fly down to the Windy City for a deep-dish pizza because Minnesota, for all its charms, tends to make deep-dish pizzas that are either not deep enough, or, well, repulsive. It’s time for homesick Chicago transplants to join hands, sing, and rejoice! There is, in fact, one place in the Twin Cities that knows how to make a deep-dish pizza. The place is called Leonardo’s, in Mahtomedi, and it doesn’t look like much, just a little storefront in a little strip mall. But appearances can be deceiving. Call ahead with your deep-dish order because it will take Leonardo’s a good 40 minutes to cook their Chicago stuffed pizza, as it should. When it’s done, though, you will have a heavy, casserole-sized, well-cooked two-inch-deep pizza stuffed with Italian sausage, Canadian bacon, pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives, provolone, mozzarella, and—most important—a spicy, garlicky, thick, zesty, magnificent marinara sauce. They don’t cut it for you—it would ooze everywhere—so don’t plan on sneaking a slice in the car on the way home. But once you wrestle this thing into your house, you’ll find it was well worth the trip to Mahtomedi. Put on your Cubs hat, pop the top on a Goose Island beer, and dive into the best Chicago-style pizza this side of Belmont Avenue. Leonardo’s Pizzeria, 3150 Century Ave. N., Mahtomedi, 651-777-1200, leonardospizzeria.net
Also Try: Pizza Luce, Multiple locations, pizzaluce.com
Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl is a senior editor at Minnesota Monthly.