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Yes, there is a danger of overkill; the fat content on a riff on sour cream and onion potato chips probably rivals that of an entire cheesecake. On the flip side, when this adroit cooking ensemble attempts restraint, it can’t help but do it with gusto.
Case in point: a gutsy pepperoni sausage lies under that wicked cheese blend, sliced pepperoni rests on top, along with the flavors of green garlic (in the splash of an infused oil) and a small garden of fresh oregano. It’s a mouthful, and it just might change the way the world — well, this corner of it, anyway — regards everyday pepperoni pizza.
The raft of uncharacteristic ingredients — chermoula, scallops, mussels, peaches, all harmoniously showcased — only underscore the place’s inherent let’s-have-fun-with-this nature. Expect to find roughly a dozen selections at dinner, and half that at lunch. Prices for plate-size pizzas range from $10 to $17.
Leave it to the ownership trifecta — Mike Brown, James Winberg and Bob Gerken — to convert their crazy-popular restaurant into a pizza joint while waiting to break ground on Travail’s newer, larger quarters; construction is set to start any day now, just down the street from Pig Ate My Pizza.
Fortunately, the kitchen’s superb charcuterie remains available, along with a short list of tricked-out appetizers and desserts. Pizza-centric (and pork-heavy) tasting menus ($60 for two, $110 for four) are also on the docket, and the bar continues to revel in craft beers and value-driven, drinkable wines.
The room’s quick makeover is all about black tiles and wall-to-wall chalkboards, with plank-topped communal tables (yes, reserved Minnesotans are forced to interact with one another) arranged to afford dinner theater-worthy views of the open kitchen and its hardworking crew.
Fortunately, the infectious Travail playfulness remains front and center. One example: Haul in a pig-themed trinket — plush toy, piggy bank — for the dining room’s ever-growing collection, and receive a free beer. How fun, and how very Travail.
4154 W. Broadway, Robbinsdale, 763-535-1131. Open noon-2 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Tue.-Sun.
Meanwhile, Sun Street Breads has revived the dinner service that it dropped late last year. Well, sort of. It’s a Monday-night-only event, and a short one, starting at 6 p.m. and ending at 8. During those two frenetic hours, baker/co-owner Solveig Tofte and her staff turn their formidable bread-making skills to pizza.
Why weren’t they doing this before? For starters, the crust is terrific, both chewy and light, with an almost buttery burnish and blistered, blackened edges.
Tofte offers a handful of options each week, both basics — mozzarella with basil, pepperoni — and a few ever-changing varieties. Simplicity is the key. One week she was deftly combining sweet potatoes with slightly bitter turnip and mustard greens; on another, it was a treasure trove of morel mushrooms with curly-edged kale and strings of tangy red onions.
Last week’s favorite was a pairing that normally sends me running for cover, the dreaded ham-and-pineapple combo. Not here; just a thin brush of the kitchen’s brightly flavored red sauce, and a sparing use of mozzarella, chunks of tart, juicy pineapple and a savory house-made spin on Spam.
It only slightly bested another beauty, which started with a not-timid chipotle-fired red sauce and blended broccoli florets and a hearty sausage, purchased from a fellow vendor at the Kingfield Farmers Market, where Sun Street got its start.
Let’s see, what else? Tofte pulls together a few simple salads, and husband/business-partner Martin Ouimet taps a short list of local craft beers and stocks first-rate bottled brews. The dinner plate-size pizzas run $7 to $12, the staff is super nice and dessert could mean fyrstekake, Tofte’s beyond-awesome almond-filled shortbread. In a word, go.
4600 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-354-3414, www.sunstreetbreads.com. Pizza night is Monday only, 6 to 8 p.m.
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