The pig really ate the pizza at Robbinsdale’s new iteration of Pig Ate My Pizza, which reopened last week (4124 W. Broadway, Robbinsdale, 763-537-7267, pigatemypizza.com).
The formerly petite pizza place has moved down the block into its sister Travail’s larger space, while Travail plans a move later this year into a new building across the street.
With all that new space, Pig Ate My Pizza has expanded its mission. It’s now a pizzeria, and a brewery, and a place to go for a long, luxurious pork-centric tasting menu with beer pairings to match each course.
The Travail Collective, a group of restaurants that seems to be growing by the week (it opened Minnesota Barbecue Co. in Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago and is cycling through a series of pop-ups in Minneapolis through the end of the summer), just keeps adding to its repertoire.
Guests of the old Travail will barely recognize the restaurant now. It keeps its footprint with the open kitchen and bar in the center, and two larger seating areas on either end. But the bar got longer and thinner, opening up a bright space with more seating. The dining room on the street side has been cordoned off from the rest of the restaurant by wooden screen doors, giving it a summer porch feel. And the dining room on the other end, which was used to host guest chef dinners, is now a brewery.
“It’s a complete face-lift of Pig itself, and it’s also a complete face-lift of what you knew of Travail,” said co-owner Mike Brown. “It’s a cross between a beer-hall vibe and a large eatery. It’s what we wished Pig could always be, but we were always crammed for space.”
Coming out of the new 2,000-pound pizza oven, favorites from the previous iteration of the restaurant endure. That includes the Piggy Pie, which loads pork sausage, pepperoni and bacon emulsion onto a brioche crust.
The cocktail menu preserves the former Travail’s; perennials such as the Pink Drink and smoky Ron Burgundy are still available.
The brewery is not in full service just yet. It’ll take about a month for the restaurant’s own brews to get going. Till then, Pig Ate My Pizza collaborated with several local brewers: Headflyer, Surly, Fair State, Barrel Theory, Lakes and Legends, Dangerous Man and Fulton.
The old Pig Ate My Pizza space has been taken over by Marna’s Cafe, a restaurant that serves Costa Rican fare (4154 W. Broadway, Robbinsdale, 612-272-1370, marnascafe.com).
Meanwhile, Travail 3.0, as the owners are calling it, is still under construction. Brown is hoping for an early September opening of a multistory, multiroom restaurant that will take diners on a kind of tour through the space, from basement speakeasy to 2,000-square-foot rooftop patio.
There will be only one seating a night for 40 people. “You will arrive for dinner at 6:15, and it will end whenever it ends,” Brown said. “We have that entire space to explore.”
Another restaurant redo has come to St. Paul.
The former Fitzgerald’s in Cathedral Hill has been rebranded the Fitz (173 N. Western Av., St. Paul, 651-219-4013, fitzgeraldsstpaul.com). Madison Restaurant Group managing partner Justin Sutherland of “Top Chef” fame overhauled the corner spot, lightening up the pub and steering the menu toward pizza and salads from executive chef Graham Messenger.
“I always wanted to have a pizza place,” Sutherland said. And the neighborhood needed one, he noted.
“Until you get to … Pizza Luce [west of Lexington], there’s not a single pizzeria in Cathedral Hill,” he said.
A garden-party look has taken over the once-dark space, with hanging plants, mismatched wicker chairs and palm-frond throw pillows. “It was just brown on brown on beige before,” Sutherland said.
Messenger, who has made pizzas at Mozza Mia and Pazzaluna Urban Italian Restaurant, came up with 16 signature pies for the Fitz, including three Chicago-style deep dish varieties. The 13 Neapolitan crusts are topped with whimsical combinations, such as the Brooklyn (cream cheese, smoked salmon, fried capers) and the Osaka (Spam, pineapple chutney, bonito flakes).
When it came to the new menu, “I thought about memories,” said Messenger, who has been with the restaurant since it opened as Fitzgerald’s in 2016.
As a kid, he would dine with his mother at Donatelli’s in Woodbury. “We would go there on paydays. I’d get this little personal pizza, and she would get this antipasto salad. I put a salad like that on the menu as an homage to my mom.”
Up next for Sutherland, who just turned Lowertown St. Paul’s Ox Cart into an arcade, on his one-by-one restaurant makeovers? Public Kitchen + Bar.
Belgium lands at MOA
First there was New York City’s Shake Shack, then New Jersey’s Carlo’s Bakery. Now, another East Coast food enterprise is coming to the Mall of America.
Wafels & Dinges, a food truck easily spotted in New York City for being yellow as a taxi, is opening its first store outside the Big Apple, on Level 3 West of the mall (60 E. Broadway, Bloomington, mallofamerica.com).
Wafels refers to its Liège-style Belgian waffles, crisp with caramelized sugar. Dinges (Belgian for “whatchamacallits”) are the toppings: strawberries, fudge, “spekuloos” gingerbread cookies and more.
“These are the real Belgian deal,” said co-founder Thomas DeGeest, who is Belgian, according to a news release.
Since launching more than a decade ago, the company expanded to 12 food trucks and kiosks in New York City.
Co-founder Rossanna Figuera said MOA was a “dream location.”
She added, “I have the fondest memories of visiting Mall of America as a kid during our family vacations. It was always the most anticipated day of the journey, so much fun, variety and great food.”
The kiosk will open “later this year.”
A world of cheese
Gazta & Enhancements, the charming and well-stocked cheese/wine/cocktail bar in the Keg and Case Market in St. Paul, has closed.
“It’s really hard, because Gazta is truly everything we love to eat,” said Tony Fritz, who owns the eight-month-old restaurant with his wife, Haley Fritz. “We travel around the world to eat cheese, and we built Gazta as a reflection of who we are as people.”
But this corner of the food hall won’t stay fallow for long. The Fritzes are converting the space into a brick-and-mortar version of their popular O’Cheeze food truck.
“We feel like Keg and Case Market doesn’t have an affordable food option,” Tony Fritz said. “We want to offer something that fits the needs of families and the neighborhood.”
A menu of moderately priced grilled cheese sandwiches in many permutations — along with soups and salads — will fit that bill.
In March, the couple closed their first brick-and-mortar version of O’Cheeze. The short-lived skyway venture was located at 705 Marquette Av. in downtown Minneapolis, near two other fellow food truckers, Vellee Deli and Green + the Grain.
“The skyway is a pigeonhole,” Fritz said. “The market in the skyway is, ‘Gimme lunch, and let me go back to my office,’ and we want to be more than ‘Here’s your sandwich, have a nice day.’ We want to serve an all-day need.’ ”
At Keg and Case Market, the O’Cheeze bar will tap local beers, and following in the footsteps of Gazta, it will also feature a long list of specialty cocktails and standards, too. “If you want a gin and tonic, you’ll be able to have a gin and tonic,” he said.
The counter-service operation will open at 10 a.m. and serve to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and to midnight Friday and Saturday. Sunday hours are yet to be determined. O’Cheeze opens Friday.
The truck business is going strong, he said, with private events driving a lot of business. But the Fritzes are given up on the Twin Cities’ food truck epicenter, the area around 6th Street and 2nd Avenue S. in downtown Minneapolis. A new strategy will concentrate on developing different downtown locations.
“We want to show people that there’s a lot more to downtown than 2nd Avenue,” Tony Fritz said.
Staff writer Rick Nelson contributed to this report.
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