We will never, ever tire of pizza.
We live to talk about it, read about it, reinvent it and, of course, devour it. Italian by birth, pizza might be today’s most international food—you can pretty much count on finding a savory slice in any city on any continent. Pizza, dare we say, is more than just pizza: It is community, camaraderie, celebration and comfort. Pizza without borders is also without seasons. As spring sneaks up on summer we still want pizza—and lots of it—and are ready to expand our pizza parameters. The local options are dizzying in number and mouth-watering in scope. Here are some of our favorite pizza adventures around town.
PIZZA IN PLYMOUTH
For many Plymouthites, Latuff’s is synonymous with pizza. Owner Mike Latuff got on the pizza kick more than 40 years ago and to this day is putting out gorgeous, tasty pies popular across our hometown and beyond. He developed his own tomato sauce, his own secret spice combo and his own pork sausage mélange, and he simmers his sauce for several hours each day. Latuff knows that the best products make the best product; no wonder the restaurant wins “Best Pizza” awards year after year.
“I won’t eat anybody's pizza but my own,” Latuff says, adding he often asks for a thin, extra-crispy crust and lots of cheese. He is justifiably proud of the most popular pie, simply dubbed the Latuff Special ($23.95), a robust extravaganza of zingy pepperoni, rustic sausage, and green and black olives; onion and crunchy green pepper complete the masterpiece (note: Latuff’s does not skimp on toppings).
The owner is happy to take requests and created a Summer Special (medium, $17.50) just for Plymouth Magazine. Our namesake pie starts with good quality olive oil, minced garlic and fresh-diced tomatoes. Piled with vitamin-rich spinach, salty black olives, tangy-sweet peppadew peppers and plenty of mozzarella cheese, it’s a lush journey of flavors, textures and colors. Notice there’s no “red sauce,” i.e. tomato or marinara sauce? This is an increasingly popular option on the local pizza scene.
Wood-fired pizza is another strong trend that probably, when you think about it, dates back hundreds of years. A wood-stoked oven lends a distinctive but delicate smokiness to the food cooked within and is picturesque as heck in any restaurant, plus a welcome entertainment factor. The formidable rotisserie at Grizzly’s is put to work on pizza duty for their wood-smoked pizza (large, $14.99). This pizza starts with a fairly traditional red sauce and mozzarella base and adds all sorts of goodies from the fire: flame-spun chicken, beef brisket and pork, as well as mushrooms and roasted red pepper. The ’za gets tossed into a giant oak wood fueled pizza oven to compound the smoky meat essence.
BBQ chicken pizza (large, $17.49) at Gina Maria’s pairs one of the best treats of warm weather—barbecue—with a classic pizza crust for a match made in heaven. The pie is scattered with smoky chunks of chicken, fresh tomato and green peppers, then perfected with sliced onion, flecks of cilantro and no less than four kinds of cheese. Owner Steven Olson says his interest in pizza was sparked while cooking and serving at a local pizzeria in college. “I learned some basic sauce techniques and later put my own spin on it,” he adds. It’s a grand spin: Gina Maria’s red sauce is distinctively tangy in contrast to so many too-sweet, too-bland sauces. Olson is excited to be in Plymouth: “People here are good to us, and it’s awesome being part of this community,” he says. “Ours is a neighborhood pizzeria.”
“Pizza brings people together, making it the ultimate community food”; that’s according to Brian Bannick, manager at Solo’s Pizza Café, and we tend to agree. It takes him about one second to recommend The White Hen (10-inch, $7.75), a dazzling confab of white garlic sauce, grilled chicken, onion, Roma tomatoes, and a sprinkling of pungent oregano and basil. “The thing that makes it so good,” Bannick says, “is the house-made creamy white garlic sauce. I had tried several white sauce pizzas through the years and was struck by how flavorless or bland they were. I wanted to create something that people would crave!” Bannick hit his mark: The sauce is seductively rich but not overwhelming, leaving a light, sweet kiss of garlic and a desire for more.
Broadway Pizza’s assistant manager Ashley Brown says that the Island Delight (medium, $17.09) is one of their more popular pizzas. It’s made of generously slathered Alfredo sauce (cream, butter, parmesan cheese), chunks of Canadian bacon, seasoned white-meat chicken, pineapple tidbits, and copious applications of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. It’s salty, sweet and chewy—read: off-the-hook delicious.
Another meat and pizza transfusion is just a spit ’n’ holler away at Pig Ate my Pizza in Robbinsdale. Brought to you by the ballyhooed team behind Travail, it features—you guessed it—all things pig. Pork and pizza make a brilliant marriage: the frenzy for pork equals that for pizza, and it’s about time they hooked up. The Piggy Pie is the ultimate foodie confab, a deep-dish brioche crust with garlic, marinara sauce, bacon, Italian sausage and pork belly—with extra slices of pork belly on top for good measure ($15). 4154 W. Broadway Ave., Robbinsdale; facebook.com/pigatemypizza
Old Napoli comes to vivid life at Punch Neapolitan Pizza in Wayzata. Naples is considered the birthplace of pizza and therefore pizza’s ultimate standard bearer. Punch emphasizes fine ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes and remarkably fresh mozzarella. Each pie is assembled on the spot and quickly cooked in the beautifully tiled 800-degree oven while you watch. The Borgata ($11.50) weakened our knees with its soft clouds of impeccably fresh mozzarella, tangy crushed tomatoes and a generous scattering of sun-dried tomatoes, fresh goat cheese, roasted eggplant and Saracene olives. The finishing touches of extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil smartly tie the pie together—all that atop a perfectly flame-blistered, ultra-thin crust.
Visit New Hope’s 40-years-strong Chanticlear Pizza to enjoy its pizza of the month, which might be The Firehouse (medium, $11.99), a fiery disc of bold bites. A bed of mysterious and incendiary “fire sauce” starts the party; spicy Italian sausage, good ol’ pepperoni, crushed red pepper and a final application of hot giardinara (pickled carrots, cauliflower, peppers) keeps the fiesta going. The pickled veggies are a particularly tantalizing touch, throwing in a snappy texture and a tang of sour in answer to all that meat. One more thing that distinguishes Chanticlear; it does not add sugar to the tomato sauce, a notable rarity in today’s sauce world.
Also in New Hope, Frankie’s Chicago Style touts the windy city’s inimitable stuffed pie with aplomb. This pizza is not for the faint of gullet. For the uninitiated, Chicago-style means a double crust stuffed with fillings of choice, then covered in a heavy blanket of tomato sauce. If it sounds intense, that’s because it is—still, its advocates will eat no other. You can design your own deep-dish behemoth from the restaurant’s list of toppings or take inspiration from the specialty pizza menu and go for the Frankie’s Special (14-inch, $24.90). Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers and onions convene in an oozing one-dish feast of toothsome meat and crunchy vegetables. These monsters require 40 minutes of baking time, so find a way to entertain yourself until your pie is ready.
Artisan flatbread snuck into pizza territory sometime in the past few decades. Flatbread is basically pizza that’s a bit lighter—with a lot more toppings wiggle room. The crust tends to be thinner and crispier, and the toppings more foodie-oriented—bring on the arugula and Kalamata olives! We swiftly chomped down the spinach artichoke flatbread ($8.99) at Green Mill, because it’s smeared with the incredibly chow-worthy creamy artichoke dip that we like to inhale at happy hour. Oh, and artichokes are a classic spring vegetable (and spinach is so good for you, right?). The supporting cast is awesome, too: olive oil, garlic, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and the brilliant coup de grace, golden parmesan bread crumbs. There are six different flatbreads on the menu; bring friends, and try a few.
FOR THE DIY’ERS
Gwenyth Paltrow has one in her back yard, and you can too. No, not a swimming pool—a pizza oven. Local pizza maker Terry Savoie started with a simple brick-and-cinderblock contraption; now he has a portable wood-fired, brick pizza oven and from which he runs Red Rover Pizza catering business. Savoie’s personal favorite is BBQ chicken—his secret is a healthy dose of bacon for rich, smoky depth. He prefers non-red sauce pizzas; one of his most popular is simply olive oil, thyme, fresh mozzarella, chives and sea salt.
Savoie loves to make new pizza creations for people, and names the pie in their honor; The Misa was invented for yours truly. It’s inspired by the classic Italian pasta dish, cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper)—it’s simple, but ridiculously satisfying.
a pie specially crafted for Plymouth Magazine
Fresh mozzarella Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle over finished pie
Basil leaves torn in quarters (not too small—they shrink)
Fresh-cracked black pepper
Pre-made pizza dough
Trader Joes sells quality, fresh, whole-wheat and white-flour pizza dough in the refrigerated case; follow the instructions on the package.
Tear the mozzarella off in chunks so it separates properly under high heat.
Tear the basil leaves so as not to bruise them, but no smaller than one quarter; it shrinks as it cooks.
Use a flavorful, high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
Don’t skimp on the pepper. “I’m a pepper snob,” Terry Savoie says, “fresh-cracked pepper makes a difference.”
The longer the dough sits in your fridge, the better: “If you want to improve your pizza, start yesterday,” Savoie says. If you have a pizza or wood-fired oven, keep in mind that it may take 30-45 minutes to come to full temperature.
Keep the composition simple. “Pizza in the states has been Americanized to the point that a thicker crust with lots of toppings, like the supreme, which has 10 different things and people think that’s great,” Savoie says, “you can get at least as much if not more flavor by minimizing the toppings. I try to keep it four or five, max.”
Tossing the Dough: A practiced skill
Savoie is a pro at tossing the pizza dough high in the air and he puts on an impressive show. It took a lot of practice—and a few unfortunate dough accidents. “There is a trick,” he says, “it’s more than throwing it in the air and catching it, you have to get centripetal force. Start small to get the feel of it, barely tossing it off your hands.”
“There’s some crazy pizza people out there and they get really serious about their pizza,” says Savoie. It takes one to know one.
WHAT TO DRINK?
Courtesy of Christian Nesheim, Vinifera Wines and Ales
One of my go-to’s for pizza is something Italian. Italian is always going to work with pizza. They do great work with the Sangiovese grape, which is what’s in chianti. I also like a deep, fruity red, like a petit syrah.
- Villa Caffaggio, chianti classico, $18.99
- Bere Toscana, Italian blend, $13.99
- Michael David Petit Petit, $19.99
WHERE TO GO?
13705 27th Ave. N.763.551.0155
9428A 36th Ave., New Hope
3556 Winnetka Ave. N., New Hope763.545.7767
1400 Highway 101 N.
2705 Annapolis Lane N.
220 Carlson Pkwy. N.
10820 Hwy. 55
Pig Ate My Pizza
Mike Brown, owner
4154 W. Broadway Ave., Robbinsdale
1313 Wayzata Blvd. E.,Wayzata
Red Rover Pizza612.242.3866
Solo’s Pizza Cafe
2700 Annapolis Circle N.
Vinifera Wines and Ales
1400 County Road 101