Would we go back:
306 E Hennepin
• Small Verde (Green) Salad $4.25 (shared)
• Quattro Stagione - Traditional (Porcini mushrooms, prosciutto, artichoke, salami, fresh mozzarella and crushed San Marzano tomatoes )$11.50
I must confess. I have actually been to Pizza Nea several times before, but always for lunch. I believe Steve had also been there at least once before so it is really not the first time we have been there.
Why it is that you can at 6:15 on a Friday night walk in without a wait, I will never know. In fact, every time I have been there granted all at lunch, I have never had a wait. While I am happy to walk right in, it makes me a little sad, especially since on our way there we drove by Totinos which was packed. At Pizza Nea we were one of four tables.
As many know Pizza Nea is owned by the same person who owns the St. Paul Bagelry on Lexington and Larpenteur, which serves pizza alongside their bagels. I had been there a few times, so when he opened Pizza Nea close to both my work and home, I was very excited.
The pizzas at Pizza Nea are the same quality as you would fine at Punch. They really are, I know it is hard to believe and I know that no one is believing since you will always have a wait at Punch and at Pizza Nea you can walk in and get a table.
Both the salad and pizza was amazing. The small salad is enough for two to share if both are ordering a pizza. In fact, you could probably both share a salad and a pizza and be plenty full, but I love their pizza too much to share it with anyone.
• Capricciosa Porcini mushrooms, artichoke, prosciutto, sausage, capers, fresh mozzarella, crushed San Marzano tomatoes and basil $11.50
We don’t always trust the Editor’s Choices from Mpls St. Paul magazine, and this is a perfect example why. Pizza Nea is better than Pizza Luce (gasp!) and every bit as good as Punch Woodfire Pizza (double gasp!), yet Pizza Nea does not garner an Editor’s Choice whereas the other two do. With the lack of a wait and easier street parking at Pizza Nea, I much prefer it to either Punch or Luce.
Splitting the Verde salad was a good move. Not only was it excellent, but an entire salad would have been too much with pizza. The Verde salad consisted of fresh mixed greens, pine nuts, shredded Parmesan cheese, and two small triangles of foccacia bread. On a future lunch visit, I’m considering just having this delightful large salad.
But that will be hard to do when the pizzas are so good. The capricosa comes with sausage, prosciutto, artichokes, tomatoes, capers, basil, mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese. They are ten-inch thin crust wood-fired pizzas, enough to satisfy a hearty appetite.
We have been to Pizza Nea before, and we’ve finally decided to review it. I’m looking forward to future visits to this gem.
January 2, 2004