The corner of 56th Street and Xerxes Avenue in Southwest Minneapolis is about to get tastier. Ann Kim, an actor turned restaurateur, and her business partner Conrad Leifur are set to open Pizzeria Lola, a fun, casual wood-fired pizza eatery, by the end of the month. With Kim's credentials as a certified pizzaiola, one of approximately 90 certified by the International School of Pizza, the only school in the United States affiliated with the Scuola Italiana Pizzaiolo in Italy, we expect great things from this new venture.
"Our approach is simple: great pizza, great service in a fun setting," says Kim. "The pizza is based on a tradition of artisan baking principles, incorporating the best pizza-making practices developed over thousands of years. The inspiration behind the pizzeria came from spending our most formative pizza-eating years attending college in New York City and New Haven, Connecticut, two cities known for outstanding pizza. We couldn't find the kind of pizza we wanted to eat nearby, so we decided to create it."
Though claims of exceptional pizza are more common than Domino's franchises, Pizzeria Lola does have one thing supporting its claim that most restaurants don't--its oven. The pizzeria imported a Le Panyol wood-fired oven, one of only a handful in the United States, built from Terre Blanche clay from Larnage, France. Terre Blanche is a white, kaolinic, refractory clay of exceptional quality known for its superior thermal properties, which for the layman's purposes translates simply to really good pizza. The oven is the visual centerpiece of the new restaurant, highlighted by a skylight and clad in gleaming copper.
So what kind of pizza will this otherworldly oven be churning out? Wood-fired, obviously, with thin, crispy but chewy and slightly charred crusts. Topping combinations will range from the traditional (tomato, basil, and mozzarella) to the eclectic (guanciale, soft egg and green onion). Daily pizza specials inspired by the seasons and unique Korean combinations will also make appearances. "Everything we make is done with love and integrity, from the dough to house-made Berkshire pork sausage and soft serve ice cream," Kim added. Craft beers on tap and affordable wines will round out the menu.
Chris Hinrichs, formerly of Barrio St. Paul and La Belle Vie, will assist in managing the kitchen. "We're thrilled to have Chris on board. He has awesome culinary skills, but more importantly a true passion for cooking and exceeding expectations," Kim said.
Leifur and Kim are aiming for the final week of November for their grand opening. Their website isn't up and running yet, but you can stay on top of news and updates via their Facebook page, where you can also take a sneak peek at some of their mouth-watering pizza creations to come.