Several weeks ago, Ed raised the question of whether a serious pizza-maker could have more than two great pizzerias. I found myself revisiting that question and some related ones on a recent trip to Mozza Mia outside Minneapolis. The pizzeria, from a very corporate restaurant group with little, if any, background in pizza, puts out pies with very good and creative toppings, but on a crust that falls a bit short.
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One of the most exciting parts of the pizza boom that's swept the nation is seeing people well into careers that have nothing to do with food giving it all up to pursue their pizza dreams. Ann Kim was a professional actress when the pizza bug bit her. She followed her pizza dreams and Minneapolis is better off because of it.
No pizzeria in Minnesota has gotten more hype than Black Sheep. I walked in excited to see the best of what the state has to offer. But muted flavors and some problems in execution meant that I would walk out disappointed.
With better deep dish options available in Chicago, the long lines at historic pizza landmarks Uno's and Due's are left largely for tourists to wait in. But Chicagoans who don't take the time to check out the places where deep dish pizza was born are doing themselves a disservice.
While food isn't the primary reason most people go to Revolution Brewing—it has quickly established itself as a go-to spot for quality beer in Chicago—the kitchen ensures there's no need to eat elsewhere before coming in for a drink, especially if you're looking for a good bar burger.
Home Run Inn may be better known nationally for its frozen pizzas, but for generations of Chicagoans, it's a pizzeria first and foremost, and a popular one at that. In one day, I checked out the original location and a frozen pie. Not surprisingly, the fresh ones were vastly superior, but both versions do the tradition proud.
Some chefs at higher end restaurants get a little too fancy with their burgers, obscuring the wonderful simplicity of a ground beef patty. And some chefs simply put out a regular burger made of delicious beef, which is fine but not that inspiring. At The Florentine, executive chef Todd Stein finds an excellent middle ground, offering up a pair of patties that, while pricey, offer slight gourmet twists that make the burgers worth checking out.
While the popular history of Gino's East might be a little overblown, there is nothing misleading about this Chicago institution's reputation for making great deep dish pizza. The golden crisp crust is home to a whole lot of mozzarella, a thick and rich tomato sauce, and, in my case, a giant sausage patty. Together, that makes for one soul-satisfying pizza.
The special came with prosciutto, crimini mushrooms, pesto marinara, fontina cheese and shaved romano, as well as basil. Like all of the 10-inch pizzas, this one was available as a half or a whole. The pizzas are made in advance and spend a couple of minutes in the oven before being served. The crust was really crunchy and the cheese and prosciutto upped the salt level considerably. The pesto marinara had some nice herbal tomato flavor but was a bit dried out. Not a particularly enticing pizza, but given the options in the area, it'll do in a pinch.
Giordano's flagship restaurant might be loaded with tourists, but residents all over the Chicagoland area keep dozens of other locations busy. There's a thin crust on the menu, but there's really no reason to get it when a wonderfully gluttonous pizza is calling out your name.