Italian food is. so. good. Here’s a synopsis of two Italian(ish) eating experiences I’ve had in the recent past.
The first was at Scusi in St Paul.
I went to Scusi with a group of co-workers early in the week. I haven’t been to nearly as many St. Paul restaurants as Minneapolis ones, and I love being reminded that there’s a whole other city of good grub waiting to be discovered just across the river. Scusi’s menu is fairly traditionally Italian (although I was disappointed to find that they don’t make many homemade pastas). The table started with some appetizers of fried artichokes, bruschetta, arancini (crispy risotto balls), and beet/blue cheese salad:
The meal also came with some nice looking bread:
the lighting was bad, so most of the pictures are dark!
For my meal, I ordered the eggplant parmesan with gnocchi instead of pasta (the gnocchi is homemade):
Others ordered pizza and gnocchi with a san marzano sauce:
The meal was great! After the meal, the table also ordered some desserts including an ice cream sundae and a particularly impressive dish of sugared donut holes with caramel sauce.
This was an extravagant meal and not for the faint of heart. If you are looking for a celebratory restaurant and like Italian food, this might be a good location.
My second encounter with Italian food was at Pizzeria Lola.
Pizzeria Lola is a wood-fired pizza place in southwest Minneapolis. It’s not your traditional pizza joint though. First, it is exceptionally delicious. Second, it has a unique fusion menu created by its Korean owner (and the restaurant is named after her dog, Lola).
The place was packed (generally an indication that the food is good), so we took a seat at the bar to avoid a long wait. The bar seating turned out to be great because we had a top-notch view of the kitchen and pizza oven:
We started off with one of the vegetable specials: a kale salad with watermelon radish and feta:
We ordered two pizzas. Le Creme which came with Italian red sauce, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, cream, olive oil and basil:
And the Korean BBQ which was beef short ribs, mozzarella, scallions, arugula, sesame and soy-chili vinaigrette:
Wow! The Korean BBQ pizza was amazing. It was super filling because of the meat, but it the sesame/soy sauce made it very flavorful.
More than just a pizza place, Lola’s is also acclaimed for their soft serve frozen yogurt (not what you would expect, right?). After the meal, we shared the dessert special: a swirl of Crispin apple cider sorbet and vanilla frozen yogurt topped with caramel sauce:
If you like pizza, go here now! The only thing to note is that Pizzeria Lola doesn’t have any pizza by the slice options, and if you want a table at a normal meal time, you need to be prepared to wait. If you want a quick slice, you could check out Hello Pizza near 40th and France, Lola’s sister restaurant from the same owner.
Oh, and the trip to Lola’s was especially fun since our waiter turned out to be from Vermont and went to same college as us! Small world.