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Andrew Zimmern on Perfect Pizzerias

Punch Pizza

Terry Brennan

Punch Pizza

Locale: 704 Cleveland Ave. S.

Breed: Certified VPN-style pizza made with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, et cetera.

Method: Punch’s thin-crust, hand-tossed pies are fired in a wood-burning oven at a blistering 800 degrees for 90 seconds.

Characteristics: Punch offers up light, 10-inch pizzas, so go with friends and order a few to share. Toppings are classic Italian—real Parma prosciutto, handmade salami, artisanal cheeses. The flames and intense heat cause the crust to bubble and blister in places, creating perfectly charred bites, crunchy going in, yielding as you chew.

Attention to Detail: The pizzaiolo, aka the guy manning the oven, must always be on his A game. One tiny distraction and the whole frenzied system crashes and the pie burns faster than Conan O’Brien at the beach.

What to Order: I love all the pizzas, but on my last visit I had the Toto (arugula, prosciutto, goat cheese, cracked red pepper and garlic), the Salame e Funghi and half of my kid’s Bambini. For a real treat, order your pie uncut and Doppio-style, meaning extra San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil and loads of mozzarella di bufala.

Insider Scoop: Punch has six locations, but for the ultimate experience, head to the original in St. Paul’s Highland Park. This location offers a full sit-down service, a bonus if you don’t want to be rushed by overeager waiting customers looming over your shoulders, angling to take your seat. If you’re opting for take-out, order your pie par-cooked and uncut to keep the freshness factor at its peak and keep soggy cardboard-itis at bay.

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