If you know anything about the Twin Cities, you know that there is an unspoken but deeply felt rivalry between the eastern and western suburbs. If you’re from the west side, you just don’t go to the east side, and vice versa.
As a proud west-sider, it is with great reluctance and a fair amount of trepidation that I ventured all the way out to the frigid hinterland of White Bear Lake for you, dear readers.
I was there to bring you this hard-hitting action news: pizza is good.
This specific pizza is a mouth-watering pie of goodness from Pizzeria Pezzo.
Pezzo is tucked into a strip mall in a surprisingly pleasant part of downtown White Bear Lake. Because it’s Minnesota in December, it was already dark by the time we arrived at the restaurant at 5:15. The city had the boulevard trees lit up for the holiday season, adding a touch of class to a clearly inferior eastern suburb.
Pezzo isn’t some trendy Neapolitan-style, coal fired BS pizza joint. Founder Gary Bougie (now deceased) spun Pezzo off from his own Slyce in Chicago. While Pezzo does have Neapolitan pizzas on the menu, the heart of this restaurant is the deep-dish pizza, an amalgam of pizza and casserole that is everything good about pizza: more cheese, more sauce, more crust, more more.
If you’ve had deep-dish before, you’ve had the experience where you have one slice and it’s amazing but it was 12,000 calories so by the time you’re done eating you’re stuffed. While I personally enjoy that feeling, this was different. It still had the deep-dish feeling of having tons of cheese and sauce, but it was somehow simultaneously light. The crust wasn’t a huge wad of dough, but an airy, crunchy subtlety that went perfectly with the melty cheese. The sauce was wonderful, with great tangy flavor and just the right amount of zip. I had 1.5 slices and think that 2 would have been about perfect.
Pezzo had a couple claims on their menu: first, an unattributed “Top 8 Pizzas in the Nation” quote, and second from Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine, “Best Pizza in the Twin Cities.”
Having had the best pizza in the nation (at Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix), and basically every pizza claiming to be the best pizza in the Twin Cities, I can confidently say that Pizzeria Pezzo lives up to the hype. It’s deep-dish, so it’s not for those wanting a pizza with kimchi and a fried egg on your pie. But if you want a pizza, an honest-to-goodness, down-home pizza. Pezzo is your place.
Oh, and they have other stuff to eat there, too! We got an incredible baked goat cheese appetizer that was, well, incredible. Drinks were interesting and reasonably priced, and the atmosphere was classy but not stuffy.
After having tried Pezzo, I’ve got to hand it to them: it turns out the eastern suburbs might not be all bad. In fact, it might be worth a trip out there every once in a while, even from the west side.
But please, guys, just build a location in Bloomington for me.