An iconic Italian food that’s crossed all geographical boundaries, you might say that pizza has gone viral. It’s become a global favorite for obvious reasons: it’s portable, customizable, nutritious (albeit in varying degrees) and is kind of a communal sacrament in its ability to bring people together. Most of all, it’s delish. Whether you want a basic fly-by slice at 2 a.m. or a creative flatbread at a white tablecloth restaurant, we’ve got an impressive array of pizzas in The Park. Here are some faves. (Prices indicated are for a large size unless otherwise noted.)
Pizza doesn’t have to be a high-calorie gut-buster. You’ll find a lively example of pizza’s lighter side on the appetizer menu at Yum!: a humble pile-up of peppery arugula, high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, shaved parmesan cheese, ripe tomato and red onion. It’s sort of a salad on pizza bread, offering the key benefits of each: spunky fresh vegetables and chewy-crisp crust. $7.95. 4000 Minnetonka Blvd.; 952.922.4000.
Figlio has one of those magical wood-burning brick ovens, which turns water, yeast and flour into a perfect pizza crust, charred in spots, crispy on the edges and chewy in the right places. That’s what happens when raw dough meets 900 degrees of fragrant heat: the paragon of pizza-tude. When it comes to wood-fired pizza, simplicity reigns. The margherita is the ideal here: fresh mozzarella, tomato and fresh basil. Figlio adds a flourish of sea salt, which intensifies the subtle milky flavor of the cheese. $12.95. 5331 West 16th St.; 952.345.2400.
Whole Grain Truffle Artichoke Flatbread
This is pizza pushed to the outer limits; it’s not even called pizza, but flatbread, a moniker that allows a bit more creative license; this bold gathering of flavors knocked our socks off. Mill Valley starts with a whole-grain crust, which we took to be an obligatory concession to good health until we tasted it. The grain’s nubby texture and slightly sweet, nutty flavor work perfectly in tandem with the distinctive toppings. And they are impressive toppings: Stinky-in-a-good way truffled artichokes, silky shiitake mushrooms and clouds of fresh, whole-milk ricotta cheese; as a whole, elegant and rustic at the same time. $12. 3906 Excelsior Blvd.; 952.358.2000.
McCoy’s menu reveals little about what to expect on your plate; the descriptions are paradigms of understatement. Take the entrée that simply reads “veggie pizza,” which conjures visions of canned black olives, rubbery mushrooms and limp green pepper. What arrives is an inspired arrangement of sautéed wild mushrooms, creamy goat cheese, sweet red peppers, and caramelized onion. A scattering of fresh basil is the pièce de la résistance. $13. 3801 Grand Way; 952.224.9494.
Gardein Spicy Thai Chicken Pizza
At the new Yard House eatery, the Gardein (a meat substitute made from soy, wheat, veggie, ancient grains and pea proteins) spicy Thai pizza has an ingredient list that may read oddly for pizza—carrots, green onion and cilantro, firecracker sauce, macadamia nuts—but it makes a fine party in your mouth, especially blanketed in all that melted mozzarella cheese. Yep, the firecracker sauce is indeed as hot as it sounds and not for the typically timid Minnesota palate. There are fun on-tap seasonal beers here; get something local like Fulton or Surly to wash down your spicy pie. $13.25. 665 Park Place Blvd.; 952.417.0490.
Park Tavern’s the kind of place that screams pizza; there is also bowling there, and what could be more fun than a pizza/bowling party? The Mexican pizza phenomenon is like taco night on a pie, a mashup of two of our favorite foods. A sturdy crust is loaded with seasoned ground beef, refried beans, lots of cheddar cheese, lettuce, diced tomato, onions and green pepper. It even comes with sour cream and salsa on the side. 9 in. $11.25; 12 in. $15.95; 10 in. gluten-free $17.95. 3401 Louisiana Ave. S.; 952.929.6810.