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BEST PIZZA Minneapolis 2004 - Punch's pizza

Punch\'s pizza

Punch's pizza

704 Cleveland Ave. S.

St. Paul, MN 55116

651-696-1066

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Readers' Choice: Pizza Lucé

For the record, the issue is the crust. You can have the finest salami, the freshest mushrooms, the most attentively tended sauce, but without a good crust, it all falls apart in a flat flabby mess, like a teddy bear without any stuffing. Punch's pizza, now in three locations, has that crust: It's buoyant as a cloud, given incredible lift by the expansion that happens when pizza dough hits the inside of a wood-fired oven that's been going all day. It's weighty, though, too, given dimension by the real wood smoke that infuses every open pore of fresh dough. It's simple, made with nothing artificial, no extra sugar or malts. And it's complicated too, complicated in the way that only the simplest human achievements are--poker, marriage, the sound of a flute. Buoyant, weighty, simple, complicated--the stuff is a modern miracle. That you can get it in about 15 minutes on a Saturday night, topped with a lively San Marzano tomato sauce, graced with the freshest mozzarella, and otherwise crowned with the finest toppings on offer in either Italy or America is merely the gilt on the lily. We'd drive across town for these pies even if the place wasn't called Punch Pizza, but merely Punch Crusts.

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