It's all about deep-dish, those sky-high wonders that seem to take forever to bake (isn't anticipation part of the experience?) Homegrown Green Mill (10 metro locations, greenmill.com) has been synonymous with the genre since 1975. Giordano's (3000 W. 66th St., Richfield, giordanos.com), a Windy City chain, landed in Minnesota six years ago.
A few mom-and-pop shops keep the deep-dish flame burning, including Pizzeria Pezzo (2143 4th St., White Bear Lake, and 8505 Valley Creek Road, Woodbury, pizzeriapezzo.com), Rocco's Pizza (seven metro locations, roccospizza.com) and the Italian Pie Shoppe (three metro locations, italianpieshoppe.com).
Wrecktangle Pizza (729 Washington Av. N., Mpls., wrecktanglepizza.com) chef/co-owner Jeff Rogers has introduced the Twin Cities to a phenomenal pizza style that pairs a thick, springy dough with outrageous amounts of cheese. Magic happens in the oven when both meet the pan's edges (think "Cheez-It"), and Rogers has a flair for traditional and out-of-the-box toppings, from a sweet-scorching honey-hot sauce blend to a tribute to the great Minnesota Tater-Tot hot dish. Other practitioners of this pan-style format include Bricksworth Beer Co. (12257B Nicollet Av. S., Burnsville, bricksworthbeer.co)and Jet's Pizza (eight Twin Cities locations, jetspizza.com).
When Surly Brewing owner Omar Ansari hung a "closed indefinitely" sign on the brewery's second-floor pizzeria in November, this distinctive style took a breather. There's a tiny bit of solace at Fat Lorenzo's (5600 Cedar Av. S., Mpls., fatlorenzos.com), which offers an homage to the classic New Haven-style clam pizza.
A newcomer that takes its New York City roots seriously is ElMar's NY Pizza (15725 37th Av. N., Plymouth, elmarsnypizza.com), which uses a filtering system to painstakingly re-create the chemical compounds of New York City water. "It's the best water for baking, and that's why New York is home to the best bagels, the best bread and the best pizza," said co-owner Michael ElMaraghy.
Big Apple-style slice shops abound across the Twin Cities, including Cossetta (211 W. 7th St., St. Paul, cossettas.com), A Slice of New York (2407 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., sliceofnewyorkmn.com) and Mesa Pizza (1323 SE. 4th St., Mpls. and 1440 W. Lake St., Mpls., mesapizzamn.com). Still, the one to beat is Hello Pizza (3904 Sunnyside Road, Edina, hellopizza.com), chef/co-owner Ann Kim's affectionate re-creation of the neighborhood slice shop that fed her during her NYC college years.
Yes, the Mississippi River metropolis that is Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, and Moline and Rock Island, Ill., has a pizza style all its own: The dough gets a dash of brewer's malt to give the crust a hint of nuttiness, the tomato sauce is usually jazzed with hot peppers and the finished pizza is cut into strips. Find it at Quad City Pizza (3150 N. Century Av., Mahtomedi, qc.pizza), where anything with ground pork-fennel sausage is a favorite, but the talker is a Canadian-bacon/dill-pickle pizza with a garlic dill sauce.