The pig really ate the pizza at Robbinsdale’s new iteration of Pig Ate My Pizza, opening today (4124 W. Broadway Av., 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. a couple 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 facelift of Pig itself, and it’s also a complete faceflit 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.”
Until the waft of bacon eventually takes over, the place for now comes with a fresh wood smell: all the furniture — custom benches, tabletops and bar stools — were made by Martin & Wilma Hochstetler, Amish woodworkers from Granger, Minn. They also supply the restaurant with its eggs and pork.
That pork is used in multiple ways. The four-night-a-week tasting menu’s current iteration, which pairs with seven beers, features bacon broth, bacon vinaigrette and bacon sauce, plus a hefty porchetta stuffed with pork sausage that co-owner Bob Gerken describes to diners as a giant hot dog.
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 piggy pie will never go anywhere,” Brown said.
The Diana Ross (their version of a supreme pizza, get it?) is back, too, plus some new additions. The appetizer menu has grown to include a “ham”burger made with pork and beef, guanciale fries, pork belly kimchi and pork “nuggs” deepfried and glazed with sweet soy sauce.
The pizza operation is open daily, and on tasting menu nights, only 40 seats are taken from the pizzeria for the beer dinner.
The cocktail menu preserves the former Travail’s: perennials like 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.
Andy Goettsch, a former chef de cuisine for Travail, is head brewer, while Nate Moser, Pig’s chef de cuisine, is assisting Goettsch on the beer side. Josh Disher is overseeing the pizza.
Putting chefs in charge of the brewery is a way to make sure the food and drink go together seamlessly.
“They’re taking the same palate they’re making food with and pairing beer with it as well, and vice versa,” Brown said. “This is more or less our way of connecting food to our brewing program.”
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 Av., Robbinsdale, 612-272-1370, marnascafe.com).
Meanwhile, Travail 3.0, as the owners are calling it, is still under construction. Brown is hoping for a beginning of September opening of a multi-story, multi-room 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.”