Punch Drunk Love

The Twin Cities' original neapolitan pizza purveyor is almost as hard to top as one of its top-flight pies

How can you, gentle reader, get the good ones? Beats me. If you went to high school with one of the servers it might help. Otherwise, the staff is so preposterously unfamiliar with the art of service that they will tend to do things like drop the check with the appetizers (perhaps out of disbelief that grown-ups might want both appetizers and entrées?), walk away in the very middle of the sentence in which you're giving your order, answer questions about the menu with, "I dunno, it's just weird here," and, you know, argue with you about perfectly ridiculous things, like whether the white wine they want to serve is the red wine you ordered.

(Speaking of which, the place currently has the worst wine program imaginable for a restaurant of its type. As of my last two visits, you can order from either the preposterously overpriced, pizza-irrelevant wine list from sister four-star, fancy-pants restaurant Levain, or one of three singularly inappropriate house wines--Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. In a universe where budget Italian varietals are falling from the sky, it's hard to make sense of this. Perhaps it's just weird here?)

Pie oh my: Neapolitan newcomer Pizza Nea rises to the challenge
Kathy Easthagen
Pie oh my: Neapolitan newcomer Pizza Nea rises to the challenge

Location Info

Map

Punch Neapolitan Pizza

704 Cleveland Ave. S.
St. Paul, MN 55116

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Highland Park

Pizza Nea

306 E. Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Category: Restaurant > Health

Region: University

Pizza Biga

4762 Chicago Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55407

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Powderhorn

Oh well, like all great periods of suffering, my Pizza Biga visit taught me what I never would have suspected: There is a point when service can become so destructive and off-putting that it can ruin even wood-fired pizza. But what I really learned is a lesson more valuable than rubies: The reason it took Pizza Nea half a year to find its legs, the reason there isn't a Punch on every corner is that this art of Neapolitan pizza is obviously a darn mite trickier than it seems from the receiving end. I mean, what I really learned this week is that comedy may be hard, but diamonds, pratfalls, and making Neapolitan pizza is harder.

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