Visited on Thursday, February 28th with Kyle and Kate
(This normally would say “Punch Pizza”... you’ll have to use your imagination)
Punch Pizza used to have a strict policy that no one was allowed to take photos of their ovens. This guy tried and was denied, and it has been discussed on flickr as well. They must have seen all this and realized it was bad press, because they decided to change their policy, and start a contest to see who could take the best photos of their ovens, pizzas, and “moments” – seemed like a good enough excuse to head over there! The contest ends on March 1st so we went on Thursday – Kyle and Kate came and Kate brought her whole photography arsenal… I was more than a little jealous! She’ll be blogging some of her photos here.
Annnnnnnnyway, our first visit to Punch was a delight. It was a great place to go on a cold crappy February night for some pizza, wine, and great company. It is a pretty small place, so it might be hard to get a table if it is busy. Luckily for us, it wasn’t (probably due to the weather) so we sat right down.
The service was fine – I don’t remember much, good or bad, about it. Our waitress didn’t mind that Kate and I were taking photos all over the restaurant, and no one else in the place seemed to care either. They are probably used to it by now, since their contest has been going on for about a month now.
The food was awesome – I started out with a small Greco Salad, which had just the right amount of everything, although I usually like tomatoes on my salads and this one didn’t have any. Maybe that is the “right” way to prepare a greek salad? I’m not sure. The best part about the salad was the delicious focaccia that came with it – if you go, definitely order a starter just so you can get that bread!
Because Ben had a huge lunch that day (at Fogo de Chao – post about that is upcoming), we split the Toscano pizza (sausage, roasted red pepper, cracked red pepper, and basil) instead of each getting our own. This pizza was great! I loved the flavor of the basil – something on the pizza was a bit spicy, perhaps the cracked red pepper, and it gave it just the right amount of zing. I also thought the crust was a good consistency (I'm not sure if that is the right word for it, but oh well) in that it wasn't too crispy or too chewy - it was just right. I've heard reports where people say that the crust has huge black char marks from the oven that make it taste too much like charcoal, but this wasn't the case with our pizza.
I also got 2 glasses of the Rosso wine – tasted good to me! Also, it was $4 per glass, which was pretty good. I HATE paying over $5 for a glass of wine because I can’t tell the difference anyway. I truly do like $3 Chuck, so a good glass of wine is lost on me. I plan to build up my palate in the future, but I’m definitely not there yet. (which is probably a good thing, since my budget isn’t there yet, either)
We drove to Punch Pizza in St. Paul while there was some snow coming down, so we expected a frustrating drive from downtown Mpls to the restaurant, but it was surprisingly quick. We had to drive up and down Cleveland Ave. a couple times before we found the place, though, because snow had gathered on the awning and we couldn't see the sign.
I had never been to Punch Pizza before but I was expecting a yuppie kind of atmosphere, a place where people have wine with their pizza instead of beer, and I was right :)
We met our friends Kyle and Kate there, Erin and Kate both had wine while Kyle and I opted for beer. The beer selection is small, maybe 6 bottles and no taps, and a little pricey; it was $4.50 for my bottle of Anchor Steam.
I had been to Fogo de Chao earlier in the day so I wasn't all that hungry yet. Erin ordered a salad before our pizza came out, I had no appetizer. The pizza we had was really good, it was the kind of pizza that isn't overly greasy and filling. Its thin crust, but the crust isn't crunchy, probably due to their wood burning ovens where the pizza lays on the stone surface.
Erin and Kate took an obscene amount of pictures while we were there because Punch was having a photo contest for the best photos of their restaurant; they're giving away several prizes totaling $3000.
- Service: The service was prompt and friendly, our server checked in with us at good intervals, she didn't hassle us even though we stayed for ~3 hours.
- Food: The food is great and they have plenty of options for all tastes.
- Drinks: The beer selection was small, but they had a decent variety. I was disappointed with the lack of tap beer though.
- Ambiance: The restaurant isn't very big which makes it kind of cozy, especially with the wood burning oven visible from the eating area. Several other tables stayed as long as we did, so it seems like a place where they don't mind if you want to hang out for awhile.
- Price: The food was priced reasonable, the beers were a little more expensive.
- Convenience: We didn't have to wait for a table, but since its a small place I could see them filling up quickly some nights. Plenty of off street parking nearby with a small parking lot out front. Easy access off of 94.
(other locations in NE,
Price: I’m not really sure because we just split the bill… but their prices are on the website. The pizzas are around $7-10.Highly recommended for the delicious and affordable pizzas!