DULUTH — Despite a smallish restaurant footprint, the Twin Ports has plenty of pizza to love: from Sammy's tiny squares of nostalgia and Vitta Pizza's Neapolitan-style to the experimental slices of Pizza Luce and the wood-fired rustic allure of Ursa Minor.
But have you tried them all? Here are a few to add to your list, some still relatively new and some that might not enjoy widespread popularity, but have fierce neighborhood followings.
This downtown Duluth shop opened just weeks before the pandemic shut down restaurants in March 2020, but it's quietly amassed fervent fans of its tangy, snappy crust, born of Canal Park's recently closed Amazing Grace sourdough starter.
The Tandoori Tikka ($21 for a 14-inch), with its golden raisins, almonds and chutney, is full of comforting Indian flavors, a mix of textures and bites of sweetness. You can order pepperoni here, but you'll also find the most inventive pizza menu for miles, like the Bánh Mì-Za and the roasted beet-topped La Chiva. Co-owners and siblings Connor Riley and Lucy Stoyke-Riley create pizzas influenced by their travels, working seasonal pizzas in when they can. One, with sausage, butternut squash and goat cheese, became so popular that they left it on the menu.
"If the pandemic taught us anything, you've just got to go with the flow," said Riley, who also owned Amazing Grace.
420 W. Superior St., Duluth, luluspizzaduluth.com
Lake Superior Brewing Co.
Pizza wasn't originally part of the menu plan, but Lake Superior Brewing, too, was in the works before the pandemic and found it had to pivot.
"It seemed like the places that survived well were pizza places," said Sarah Maxim, who owns the brewery with her husband, Seth.
But the restaurant veterans didn't know pizza, so they went to Staten Island and took an intense five-day course from Goodfella's, a well-known brick-oven pizza maker. They bought an Italian brick oven from a restaurant closing in the Twin Cities, took it apart and hauled it back to Duluth.
"We found this oven and did a deep dive into old world New York pizza," Maxim said. "Sauce, cheese, hydration and fermentation — we became pizza geeks."
The bubbly, blistered crust stems from a three-day dough fermentation process and an 800-degree oven. The pizza isn't quite a New York foldable slice, but it's close. One of the stars of the show is a recipe bestowed upon them by Goodfella's, the vodka pie ($19): a delicate creamy flavor with mushrooms, soft prosciutto and peas, a fun touch.
Its own beer should be ready by summer; long waits for parts have delayed brewing.
5324 E. Superior St., Duluth; lakesuperiorbrewingduluth.com
Thirsty Pagan Brewing
This longtime Superior brewery in an old train depot makes a pan-style pizza and offers a set menu, with rotating specials. Those are always a good bet. A fall choice was the Pickling Pete ($25.95), with cold cut toppings, pickled rainbow carrots and a delightfully zingy Dijon sauce. Spicy, but tolerable for even the pickiest Scandinavian. The kitchen makes its own sausage and crowdsources its staff of nearly 40 for new inventions.
"We just have to make sure we can afford it," owner Steve Knauss joked.
1615 Winter St., Superior, Wis.; thirstypaganbrewing.com
Do North Pizzeria
Decent deep-dish pizza in these parts is hard to find. But this Hermantown pizzeria, which always smells fantastically of baking cheese, has its fans. The wait for deep dish can be long, but the zesty, saucy, parm-y slices on a simple pepperoni ($20) version is worth it. They also work a thin-crust style, which is equally delicious.
5116 Miller Trunk Hwy., Hermantown, Minn.; donorthpizzeria.com
Shamrock Bar & Pizza
South Superior's Shamrock, a tavern-style pizza stalwart of about 70 years, is a bit of a drive from Duluth. But its frozen-in-time, wood-paneled room is exactly the place to order a pitcher of cheap PBR and a bacon cheeseburger pizza ($23.35 for a 14-inch), a messy, pleasing decadence. You get a generous cup of pickles for some welcome acid. Want to continue your northwestern Sconnie-style night? A bar adjoins.
5825 Tower Av., Superior, Wis.; shamrockpizza.com