I talk about food a lot. And other stuff.

But mostly food.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


There's a new restaurant in town, and if you live anywhere near Minneapolis,  you need to get yourself there.  Pizzeria LOLA at 56th and Xerxes is fantastic.  Interesting combinations of ingredients (and Old Reliables) sit upon perfect crusts and sauce cooked in a gorgeous copper covered fire-only oven.  They have a really nice wine list with a variety of price points ($5 - $12/glass, $21 - $35/bottle, plus two sparkling offerings), and their beer list just added Surly - a fact that makes me super happy. They also serve  a variety of soft drinks, including Mexican Coke.  

All they serve for entrees is pizza.  Perfect, lovely, oven-fired pizza.  However, I need to also comment on the awesome starters.  These are genius.  They are exactly what I want when I'm having pizza.  Sure, a side salad will round out your pizza dinner nutritionally, but wouldn't you rather have roasted Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and chippolini onions ($9)?  I know I did.  I had a hard time deciding between that and the Roasted Baby Beets with mixed greens, Montchevre  & hazelnuts ($11).  These dishes are big enough for two to share, veggie-laden (though you can also get meatballs, antipasti, tuna or olives), warm, comforting, and very well paired with pizza.

Loves me some B Sprouts.
For our pizza selections, my children and I split an Old Reliable (House red sauce, mozzarella and pecorino -$10), and a Seasonal Pie (butternut squash, spaghetti squash, brown butter, Taleggio and sage - $15).)  Both were delicious.  Like, I had to close my eyes delicious.  I especially noticed the sauce on the Old Reliable - not too sweet like most Minnesota pizzas I've run into. 

 I was also given a little ramekin with four different olives as an amuse bouche.  I appreciate this very much, and think it's a lovely gesture.  I brought them home with the leftovers for my husband - the only olive eater in the house.  The pizza, by the way, does very well reheated in the oven for a few minutes.  Not as good as at the table, of course, but I wouldn't disgrace it with a microwaving.  Far too excellent to nuke.

As for the space, it's great.  What could be a small, cafeteria-like space is transformed into a cozy community of diners.  The bar is tucked in the back and lined with copper.  Muted Korean animae plays on a flat-screen.  The staff is right there for patrons to chat with and watch (a favorite place of mine and my parents' for this very reason - must sit there next time), and the bar wall is backlit and muted-bright.  Great lighting.  The floor of the restaurant is shiny (I know this because I had to look for a crayon a couple of times), and it holds a few two and four top tables and is lined with booths that aren't booths.  They're tables with chairs, separated by half walls.  It's kinda brilliant.  A great mix of music plays at just the right volume.  Inverted tomato cans dot the ceiling  in their second incarnation as light fixtures.  The staff is helpful, knowledgeable and kind.  Sure, it was a little bit of a wait to get a table (maybe 10 minutes), but they don't take reservations and I was there an hour and a half into opening night.  It'll all work out.  In fact, on day five, I bet it already has.

Chef Ann Kim wore a flower in her hair on opening night.  Servers station is reflected in the copper oven. 


There were very few things I'd change, all in all.  I had two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc, but was never given water - this is partially my fault, as I never remembered to ask when my server was there.   Apparently I like wine better than water.  This is not new information for anyone.  As for eating at LOLA with kids, I'd suggest offering a smaller sized Old Reliable at a lower price point ($5?).  For the awesome quality of this food, I'd probably pay a higher "kids menu item" price for a smaller pizza/ glass of milk/one cookie combo. (I paid $2 each for my kids' milks.)  Typically that combo would be a $5 - $7 endeavor, but at LOLA I bet I'd pay $10  for it - or even $12- $12.99 if the pizza was regular sized for my kids to split and it came with 2 milks and a big cookie.  Did I just invent the  "two-kid" meal?   Let's talk.  These are very little things and I'm sure it will all evolve over the long, long time I'm sure LOLA will be open.

Let's get back to what was great, shall we?  The napkins.  You heard me.  Big, think paper napkins.  So awesome.  The kids' activity/coloring placemats are two-sided.  Need I say more, parents?  I don't think so.  Also, the bathroom smells great and is really cute.  It has a weird little motion-detector box above the door that plays quotes while you're in there.  I couldn't figure out what it was at first.  I thought I was hearing the next loo over, or the kitchen or something.  Then I heard Christopher Walken tell me it needed more cowbell.  And Biff Tannen tell me to make like a tree and get out of here.  And Dr. Fankenstein wish Frau Blucher a Goodnight (neeeeeeiiiggghhhhhhhhh).   I love this thing.  I waved my hand in front of it like a dozen times.

I haven't even talked about dessert yet.  I was sad that on opening night, the ice cream machine wasn't working.  Next time I need me some house made vanilla soft serve with olive oil and fleur de sel.  This time, however, I was blessed with the cookies and milk plate.  Two huge belgian chocolate chip cookies topped with a sprinkle of fleur de sel and served with Ice Cold milk.  Yeah.  Oh, yeah!

Cookie (with bite - I couldn't get the iPhone out fast enough), as modeled by my 5-year-old.  

Finally, my check came in a Lucky Strikes tin.  I like this trend of quirky in restaurants (Cafe Maude gives you your check in an old library book cover).  It makes me feel fancy.

LSMFT?  Not in this case.  LSMFP!*

This last, quirky little flair paired with the bathroom quoter thingy brings my appreciation of this lovely, delicious neighborhood gem to a new level.  It's the level that lets me know that not only are the people in charge here great at what they do, they are smart and have a sense of humor.  

Great food from smart, funny people.  Now, really, what's better than that?  

Get thee to LOLA.

*Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco / Pizza - yep. I'm old.


  1. Nice find! I can't wait to check it out.

  2. Great write-up - covered the foodie angle as well as the parent/kid angle - write-up here in San Francisco tend towards the celeb/snark angle....