Coal Fired Pizza?

November 10, 2008


Above: Oven fuel.

Friday night, after visiting a gallery with my friend Linda, she recalled her father mentioning a new pizza restaurant opening up on Washington Ave. North, in Minneapolis. Linda has a great memory for locations. We were only a couple blocks away and decided to stop in.

Black Sheep Pizza at 600 Washington Ave. North, Minneapolis, makes the best pizza I have ever eaten. They use coal to fuel their ovens. Their menu says:

Coal was burned in the first ovens used to bake pizza in the United States. Today these restaurants, found mostly in Brooklyn and New York, define the "American" pizza experience by still using coal to make some of the best pizza in the world. As the first coal-burning pizza restaurant in Minnesota, Black Sheep Pizza seeks to honor the craft of these pioneers by using clean burning, virtually emission-free Anthracite coal and the best ingredients possible to create the great American pizza experience for you.

They did that and then some. The crust is thin (very thin, with nice light bulges at the circumference) and crisp, almost flaky if one can say that about a yeast-raised dough. We had the fennel sausage pizza without adding extra items. The toppings are seasoned well with no one thing overpowering another. There's no heaviness so common in restaurant pizzas. It was just a delight.

They have only one dessert, a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich using Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream. Since I love Sebastian Joe's and I make my own killer ice cream sandwich I had to have one. While Black Sheep Pizza's ice cream sandwich is good I found it too large, the cookies too hard, the chips all ground up (perhaps to keep people from chipping a tooth on the hard dessert). The overall result was a "commercial" prefab dessert which clashed with the wonderful artisan feel and follow through of the pizza. I say skip dessert (you heard me correctly) and have another piece of pizza. (They really should talk to me about how to do this dessert right!)

The restaurant has been open for 3 weeks and while we were there it was running smoothly (despite the growing crowd). Also we had the best waitress ever. She had just come in to work, still had her coat on and saw us sitting at our table. She came over to take our order (we had asked another waiter for a moment to read the menu). "I thought you were just some random person who travels around with an order pad," I said, after she had approached us while pulling a new biro out of a pack of 100, still carrying her coat. We joked with her all evening and she even got Linda a piece of coal! 

I can't wait to go back.

    • aimee
    • November 10, 2008

    yum yum yum. i just got lost in thought for about thirty seconds mentally retracing my old walking route around lake of the isles to sebastian joe’s on franklin… and next door to patina… wow, do i miss minneapolis right now.

    black sheep pizza sounds wonderful!

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