In a culture accustomed to frozen or chain restaurant pizzas, it’s nice to see that some restaurants keep the focus on brick-oven or stone-fired pies. Each of these restaurants make their pizza dough from scratch, use high-quality, fresh ingredients and then roast the pizza in brick ovens. This allows all of the flavors of the pizza to combine while they cook, adding a subtle smokiness to each bite. Listed below are the five best brick-oven pizza spots in the Twin Cities.
Punch Neapolitan Pizza
769 Grand Ave
St Paul, MN 55105
If you are craving a traditional Neapolitan pizza, look no further than Punch Pizza. Locally owned and with locations scattered across the Twin Cities, this restaurant has the thinnest pizza in the cities. The wood-burning oven burns so hot that your pizza is ready after only 90 seconds of baking. Punch’s ingredients are specifically picked for Neapolitan pizza; both the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese are native to Naples, Italy. No matter which specialty pizza you choose, few people are able to eat anything less than the entire pie on their own. The local favorite is the Margherita Extra, a specialty pizza topped with basil, mozzarella di bufala and Mt. Vesuvio tomatoes. All of Punch’s pizzas can be specialized with extra tomatoes, olive oil and mozzarella, or you can tap into your creative side and build your own pizza instead.
Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza
512 N Robert St
St. Paul, MN 55102
As Minnesota’s first and only coal-fired pizza, Black Sheep has certainly made a name for itself. While the menu is relatively small (only 10 specialty pizzas listed), these chefs know how to make the ingredients speak for themselves. Each pizza is hand tossed and assembled before it’s loaded into the coal-burning oven. The pizzas come out just a bit charred and blistered, which only adds to the flavor of the well-balanced sauce and cheese. Looking for suggestions on your first Black Sheep pizza? Try the #5: fennel sausage, hot salami, onions and cracked green olives. Don’t forget to pair your pizza with one of Black Sheep’s local brews on tap.
5557 Xerxes Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55410
If you’re tired of the same old pizzas, it’s time to give Pizzeria Lola a visit. This neighborhood restaurant serves some of the most interesting pizza combinations seen in the Twin Cities. Featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” this pizzeria is known for adding in new flavor combinations in a copper-lined, wood-fire oven while still preserving that mouthwatering familiarity of the pizzas you grew up with. Not ready to stray too far from a traditional pizza? Try the Old Reliable, made with homemade red sauce, mozzarella and pecorino. Ready for something totally new? Give your taste buds a workout with Lady ZaZa. This comes topped with housemade kimchi and Korean sausage, serrano peppers, scallions, sesame and soy chili glaze – a totally unique flavor combination melted together with a crispy, thin pizza crust that will have you coming back for the next newest pizza.
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Downtowner Woodfire Grill
253 W. 7th St.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Just outside of downtown St. Paul is Downtowner Woodfire Grill, a cozy, romantic restaurant featuring an open-concept kitchen and an oak-burning, wood-fire grill. This restaurant offers many different fire-roasted entrees, but its pizza cannot be passed by. Try the Spinach and Goat Cheese pizza – it has a wonderfully thick outer crust, baked just long enough to get a nice crispy edge and a lingering smokey flavor that adds texture to an otherwise common vegetarian pizza.
Bascali’s Brick Oven
1552 Como Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108
Located near the State Fairgrounds lies a small little Italian restaurant called Bascali’s Brick Oven. This restaurant prides itself on its use of brick ovens imported from Italy that are cured with two-year-old red oak before being used to roast the pizzas. It also focuses on fresh ingredients, with the website stating that the dough is made from scratch every two hours. If you love garlic, you can add a garlic rub to the pizza crust for an extra kick. What’s the local favorite? The House Pizza is this spot’s standout, generously topped with sausage, mushrooms, and red and green peppers atop a crispy, smokey crust.
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Alicia Stewart, a clinical dietitian at a metro hospital in St Paul, MN, has the unique role of working both as an acute care clinical dietitian, as well as an out-patient counselor. She has worked with hundreds of clients on various health topics, including diabetes, weight management, family health, and other chronic health conditions that can be controlled and improved with the right food choices. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.