Pizzeria Lola serves up a slice of class in south Minneapolis

Pizza joint opens in former Xerxes Market space

Squash on a pizza might seem too starchy, but pats of the butternut and spaghetti squash on Lola's Seasonal Pie are moist and sweet, enriched by brown butter, Taleggio cheese, and crushed sage. If mom and dad don't want to fight the kids for slices, the bitterness of the sautéed rapini (also called broccoli rabe) on the Xerxes may turn off younger diners, yet it makes an assertive partner for tangy feta cheese and the briny meat of kalamata olives.

Some diners may get squeamish about the Sunnyside, a blend of cured pork cheek, sliced leeks, pecorino cheese, and cream that comes with two sunny-side-up eggs on top. It might be tempting to ask the cook to put the pie back in the oven for another minute or two, but the runny yolk adds extra richness to the nutty cheese and makes a terrific dipping sauce for the crust. But the crusts—bubbly, chewy, with just a hint of char—are also good enough to stand on their own.

Part of the key to Lola's crispy-tender crust is the restaurant's Le Panyol oven, the first in the Twin Cities. It's a French import with an igloo-shape dome built from blocks of special Terre Blanche, or white earth clay, known since the 19th century for its superior heat-retention properties. The other important factor is Kim's attention to her dough. After months of experimentation with every variable—ingredients, ratios, temperatures, mixing times—she settled on a simple recipe of finely ground Italian 00 flour, salt, yeast, and water. The dough is made with a starter like that of artisan breads and uses the fermentation process, plus the specks of char it picks up while baking, to boost its flavor.

The Iowan, with prosciutto, ricotta, arugula and mozzarella
Emily Utne
The Iowan, with prosciutto, ricotta, arugula and mozzarella
Head Chef/Owner, Ann Kim artfully pushes out her hand made pizza dough.
Richard Fleischman
Head Chef/Owner, Ann Kim artfully pushes out her hand made pizza dough.

Location Info

Map

Pizzeria Lola

5557 Xerxes Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55410

Category: Restaurant > Pizza

Region: Southwest Minneapolis

Details

Pizzeria Lola
5557 Xerxes Ave. S., Minneapolis
612.424.8338; www.pizzerialola.com
appetizers $4-$12; entrees $8-$15

To supplement the pizzas, Lola serves various vegetables, salads, and meaty morsels. Be sure to order at least one of them. The roasting process can transform a vegetable's flavor, and the beautifully browned Brussels sprouts and cauliflower at Lola could entice Americans to meet their five-a-day goal. Mixed greens with multicolored beets, tangy goat cheese, and hazelnuts balances several hearty flavors with delicate ones. And a ceramic boat of marinara-smothered house-ground meatballs will sail straight into your gullet.

Desserts are utterly simple and evocative of childhood. Choose between cookies and soft-serve. The chocolate chip rounds are on the cakey side and not overly sweet. They're fine, but the milk—thick and positively icy, it's rich enough to be a dessert by itself—was actually a more refreshing finish after indulging in so many carbs. The soft-serve is made at the restaurant with local milk and cream and tastes nothing like its fast-food brethren. The texture is far silkier and the flavor more pronounced, as the vanilla is flavored with the precious Madagascar-grown pods and the pistachio tastes of actual nuts, not the usual florescent-green, artificially flavored stuff.

The only trouble with Lola is that it's perhaps too popular. (Unsurprising considering that Minneapolis's neighborhoods south of Lake Harriet are essentially restaurant deserts, with the exception of Lola's neighbor, Cave Vin, and a few restaurants along Penn Avenue.) Lola doesn't take reservations, so plan on arriving before 6:30 or after 8 if you want to get a booth or a table—or sitting at the bar if you don't want to wait. Also, three times I tried to order the cherry-sweet soft drink Cheerwine and the poached tuna conserva with cannellini beans and both were unavailable. But at least the pizza production seems infinite. As fast as you can devour a slice, the dough-shaper has pulled another blob into a flat circle, placed it on a peel, and stretched it to the edges, ready for topping and a trip to the oven.

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