Would we go back:
96 Broadway St. N.E
• Old World $11.75
Element Pizza was a mixed bag to me. On one hand it was a nice kid friendly pizza restaurant as the food was super fast. But the pizza while good, was not quite as good as some of the other pizza places around. I had the Old World which was spinach, feta, sundered tomatoes, olives, onions, but somehow it was a bit bland and the crust did not have the chewiness that I like in that kind of pizza.
Overall, I would probably not go back, since there are better options nearby.
• Fire - spicy sausage, roasted red pepper, goat cheese and basil $10.75
I liked Element Pizza. It reminds me of Pizza Nea before it got popular, and based on our familiarity with Pizza Nea, that is our baseline for comparison.
The pizza itself is also very good. The dough was not exactly perfect - a little chewier than I prefer and charred to prove that it was wood fired. But the crust still tasted good and worked with the pizza overall. The toppings were good, but not great. It seemed like they were not the highest quality ingredients, but still acceptable. That is, the goat cheese could have been stronger and the sausage could have been spicier. But I had not expectations going in, and a bottle of beer or a glass of wine helped too. The outdoor seating is on busy Broadway St NE, with no great view (no river, lake, or park), but you get a feel for the hardworking neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis.
The service is spectacular, but maybe because we went at a time when it was not busy. We ordered at the counter and found a table outside. By the time I went back inside and retrieved silverware and water, the pizzas were delivered to the table. It cannot possibly be that fast all the time when it gets busy, but you can expect quick service. And, even though you order at the counter, the server comes out to check on everything after a few minutes so it feels like a table service restaurant (the Punch model). The staff was even friendly at the counter, or at least they feigned friendliness, which made the experience much more pleasant.
I would recommend Element Pizza for those in the area. It's a good option if you're visiting Northeast for another reason (e.g., Art-a-Whirl). I worry because the restaurant was not busy when we were there, so I hope they survive the Great Recession. Maybe with some perseverance, their business will grow organically and thrive.
August 28, 2011