Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Restaurant Ruminations :: Birthday at Pizzeria Lola!

This Sunday I turned 28 years old.  My birthday has always had a bit of a kick to it, seeing as it follows right on the heels of St. Patrick's Day and it always pops up in the middle of March Madness.  With all of those events taking place, there is never a shortage of fun things to do around my birthday!  I did some celebrating with my friends on St. Patrick's Day, and we enjoyed some Irish beers and the arrival of a kilt-wearing bagpiper man at the Dubliner. 
Drizzle was all decked out for St. Patrick's Day.
The next morning was my birthday!  I woke up, had a big cup of coffee, and then because I can do whatever I want on my birthday, I had pickles for breakfast.  Yup, that happened.  And it was delish.  But the focus of my day was lunch with my parents at Pizzeria Lola in Minneapolis.  Pizzeria Lola has been on my "must-try" list ever since I heard of it!  And it should be on your must-try list as well, if not for my praise, than for the praise of pretty much every person who has been there since it opened in 2011.  Plus, the owner named the pizzeria after her dog, Lola.  I clearly had to check it out!  (I hope to go again when Lola is at the pizzeria!)

I walked into the pizzeria and was immediately in love.  It's a spacious restaurant, with a bar in the back, tables in the front, and track lighting that all leads to the center of the restaurant -- the huge wood burning oven.  For $3, you can get your photo taken in a photo booth and the back wall is adorned with photo-booth pictures of happy, Pizzeria Lola patrons.  Another point of interest for me was the "cooked" art hanging on the walls.  Created with an invisible ink, you "bake" these prints in the oven and the design magically appears.  Completely apropos for this space.  My favorite thing about the pizzeria (besides the food) was the dishes.  Vintage, non-matching plates that looked like dishware your grandmother would have had in her kitchen.  I loved them.  Loved them! 

perfect for making pizza AND art!
Birthday lunch means I get to order an appetizer.  A nice serving of spiced olives did the trick.  Even my mom, who thought she hated green olives, enjoyed these marinated olives.  There's just something about pickles and olives that I cannot resist. 

But my pizza was absolute heaven.  I ordered the La Creme pizza, which I'm pretty sure translates roughly into "the best pizza ever."  A tangy Italian red sauce tempered by a bit of rich cream lightly covered the pizza crust.  That was topped with a handful of shaved parmigiano-reggiano, slightly melty from the warm sauce.  A few leaves of basil permeated the pizza with a fresh flavor, and a drizzle of olive oil on top just killed it. 

But the crust....oh the crust.  It can be the downfall of even the best-intentioned pizza.  The tastiest ingredients in the world can only go so far on a lackluster crust.  Luckily, this pizza crust was a shining example of what all pizzas should strive to emulate.  The crust was thin and chewy, a hint of a crunch on the outside crust, and it REALLY stood up to the pizza toppings!  It was not soggy, mushy, or floppy.  It was dreamy. 

My pizza was cut into six tantalizing pieces and I devoured four of them in an instant.  I forced myself to hold off on the other two, even though I could have easily polished them off as well.  (Confession: I ate the last two slices about 2 hours after I got home!)  The light crust, fresh ingredients, and the focus on good flavors instead of overwhelming toppings means you can order a pizza all for yourself!  Especially if it's your birthday!

My parents shared their pizza (fools!) and had similar rave reviews for the house-made fennel sausage and natural-casing pepperoni that topped their cheesy pizza.  I didn't try it, but it looked quite delicious.  There is a pizza on the menu to suit any palate -- ranging from the traditional to the inventive.  The Boise pizza is on my radar for next time and I'm going to force someone to order the Lady ZaZa and explain it to me in excruciating detail. 

A birthday meal also means dessert!  I have never been a huge fan of birthday cake -- growing up I opted for birthday strawberry shortcake or birthday pie.  I'd read rave reviews of the cookies and ice cream at Pizzeria Lola, so I told my mom a birthday pumpkin pie would not be necessary for my 28th!  I debated between the DYI ice cream sandwich and the plate o' cookies......

Ice cream sandwich for the win!  Two freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and homemade vanilla soft-serve.  They even put a little candle in the ice cream and sang happy birthday!  Such a lovely touch for my birthday dessert.  The cookies were warm, with melty chocolate chips, and the ice cream was sweet and creamy, with flecks of vanilla bean. 

I formed a little ice cream sandwich and dug right in.  I had chocolate and ice cream all over my hands, and I could not have been happier.  Nom nom nom......  best birthday lunch EVER.  Thanks Pizzeria Lola! 

Restaurant Details
5557 Xerxes Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55410
(612) 424-8338

Monday-Thursday: 5pm - 10pm*
Friday: 5pm - 11pm
Saturday: 11am - 11pm
Sunday: 11am - 10pm

*Starting in April, Pizzeria Lola will be open for lunch 7 days a week! 

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