Reporting Jason DeRusha
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For the first time in 55 years, there will be no Pizza Palace at the Minnesota State Fair. But as one family-owned business closes, a new one is moving in.
The legendary Mancini’s from St. Paul will have a spot at the State Fairgrounds this year, serving up their steak amongst several popular items. For 65 years, the Mancini’s name has graced West 7th Street in St. Paul, since Nick Mancini opened the place up.
“He had a new coat in the middle of winter, just put on a new sign he was proud of that,” said Pat Mancini, Nick’s son.
Pat Mancini and his family run the one restaurant even though they’ve had offers to open another.
“With our name on the building we always wanted a Mancini’s on site. Why the fair? The fair made some sense because it’s 12 days. You become a showpiece for state of Minnesota,” Pat said.
At least 30 businesses applied to take over the old Pizza Palace spot, but it was Mancini’s that got the call.
“When I think about the fair I think about tradition and family. Our name had a lot to do with it. We’re all about family, that’s how we built this business,” Pat said.
At the fair, there will always be a Mancini’s in the room, underscoring that this family does more than just put their name on a building.
Pat Mancini said some of the restaurant’s most popular items will be available at the fair, including their garlic bread and steak sandwich.
“How do you go to Mancini’s and not have a little steak? It’s going to really impress people,” Pat said.
Pat Mancini expects the food to be spot-on, but it’s the family tradition that will really be the star. Just like Nick Mancini wanted way back in 1948.
“He’d either think we’re nuts of be very proud. We’d like to think the latter, maybe a little of both. We are still a little crazy,” Pat said.
Mancini’s will be located right by the WCCO-TV booth, not far from the Giant Slide, at the corner of Carnes and Nelson Streets.