BEST PIZZA - 2006
Don't let the chic Euro-decor, the semi-circular bar, the soft, kind lighting and clean lines fool you: The new kid on Uptown's block knows pizza. Here you'll find serious hand-tossed crusts wood-fired to ever-so-slightly charred perfection. You can always judge a pizza place by its simplest pies, and the classic Margherita ($7) suggests good things will follow on Pizza Nea's long menu. For it, the toothy hand-thrown crust is topped with San Marzano tomatoes and fresh, pale, springy mozzarella, and finished with freshly chopped basil and coarse sea salt: It's simply delicious, and deliciously simple. More elaborate pizzas balance colors and flavors; for instance, the Salsicce ($9.50) with its zesty sausage, roasted red pepper, cracked red pepper, and fresh mozzarella; or the Quattro Stagione ($11.50)—porcini mushrooms, prosciutto, roasted artichoke, salami, and fresh mozzarella, all judiciously arranged (not dumped) on top. Pizza Biancos play to single ingredients, such roasted porcini mushrooms. Pizza Nea's full bar and intriguing appetizers, salads, and focaccia sandwiches make for a lovely cheap date. Or, if takeout is more your style, pick up a bottle of Chianti at Hennepin-Lake Liquors across the street, and Pizza Nea is good to go.