Look beyond pepperoni and you will see a world full of crust topped with unusual edibles. Maple Grove has its share of interesting culinary delights which harken to that original Italian triangle we call pizza. Sometimes it’s a spectacular topping, other times it’s a crust that’s cracker thin. They’re inventive, they’re perplexing, they’re intriguing, but mostly they throw a twist into what you thought was a simple flat piece of dough. Whatever the variation, we call it yummy. Here are some great examples of pizza with a twist:
Although they offer New York-style and authentic Chicago-style deep dish crusts, because Broadway Pizza is acclaimed for their thin crust pizza, you should probably start with that on the bottom. As far as topping go, one of their most unique pizzas is the spicy shrimp, upon which you will find shrimp tossed in buffalo sauce, artichokes, onions, tomatoes, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses with a creamy red sauce. “I just love the artichokes,” says manager Michael Schrauth. Really now, where else can you get artichokes on your pizza?
And, speaking of vegetables (wait, is an artichoke a fruit? a flower? Surprise, it’s a thistle!), Broadway piles the spinach on their Spinoccoli pizza. Along with creamy spinach sauce, this unique pizza sports chicken, broccoli, garlic, tomato, mozzarella and, of course, spinach ($14.49- $19.79). 7951 Elm Creek Blvd. N.; 763.416.4446.
Bucca di Beppo
If veggie is your pleasure, Bucca makes an Old World style pizza with breaded eggplant, broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms and onions with a combo of mozzarella and provolone cheeses and a pizza sauce that tastes as if is it’s been cooked down to its essence ($16.99-$23.99). While you will find much excellent Italian fare at Bucca, you can’t go wrong with their pizza, even a traditional pie. 12650 Elm Creek Blvd.; 763.494.3466.
Pizza Fritta Napoli
It’s a shame to shun the pasta at Olive Garden, but here’s a twist on all-out pizza that leaves room for pasta too: lightly fried wedges of fluffy dough topped with Olive Garden’s signature Alfredo sauce and served with sun-dried tomato dipping sauce. At $5.49 it’s well worth a try during the conversation that fills the void until your pasta dish or salad arrives. 12520 Elm Creek Blvd. N.; 763.420.9699.
Angeno's Pizza & Pasta
Can’t decide between Italian and Mexican? Angeno’s has a Taco pizza that will satisfy both cravings. Baked with salsa sauce, it’s lean ground beef, mozzarella and cheddar cheese topped with fresh lettuce, tomato, black olives and more cheddar cheese. It can be topped off with sour cream and more salsa at your request ($10.99-$20.99), 13588 80th Cir. N.; 763.420.8200.
Whirlyball Sports Bar and Grill
Meat, meat, and more meat makes the Animal House pizza a favorite amongst the teams of hard playing enthusiasts that frequent the courts and laser tag room at Whirlyball. Loaded with bacon, Canadian bacon, chicken, sausage AND pepperoni, the protein rush will keep you competitive all evening long ($12.99-$16.99). 13644 80th Circle N., 763.657.1555.
Thai Chile Flatbread
JC’s Bar & Grill
Before embarking on a pizza odyssey, it’s important to take baby steps in order to get your bearings. Just as the classic bratwurst paved the way for its appetizer-friendly cousin the hot dog, so does pizza welcome flatbread onto menus everywhere. This pint-size pizza is packed full with savory grilled chicken, piping hot mozzarella, green onions, and red and green peppers arranged to entice the eyes as well as the mouth ($8.99). This delicious diversion is covered in a Thai peanut sauce for a flavor unlike any pizza you’ve experienced. Let JC’s expand your pizza atmosphere, and get a little flatbread into your life. 13540 Grove Drive.; 763.420.2107.
Maple Pepper Bacon and Tomato Flatbread
Speaking of flatbread, you won’t find a more savory piece of this baked delight than the maple pepper bacon and tomato variety at Granite City. Made with maple pepper bacon, tomatoes, basil, and cheeses on a garlic aioli brushed crust, it has just the right balance of flavors. It’s ample in size but hard to stop nibbling after you are full. The bacon is slightly sweet and so smoky that it practically transports you to the slow-smoke shack where it was created. Order a great craft beer like The Bennie, a German style lager, and hang around until you are hungry again. $11.95. 11909 Main Street; 763.416.0010.
Basil Pesto Flatbread
3 Squares Restaurant
If it’s simplicity you are looking for, 3 Squares delivers an exotic flair with their Basil Pesto Flatbread. It sounds simple enough but they surprise you with the big taste of oven-dried tomato coupled with mild caramelized onions and balanced by a creamy goat cheese. Manager Tim Walker says “it’s been on the menu for two years and it is very popular.” The crispy flatbread also hosts fresh basil, so this dish’s simple look is deceiving. You can add chicken or shrimp to this one, but why mess with a good thing? ($9.25 /$12.25 w/meat). As with all of 3 Squares’ flatbreads, you can order a gluten free version. 12690 Arbor Lakes Parkway North; 763.425.3330
The story goes that in 1899 Queen Margherita of Italy visited Naples to escape a cholera epidemic in the north of Italy and was regaled by chef Raffaelle Esposito. One of the pizzas he made in her honor was a new creation aligning with the red, white and green colors of the Italian flag, topped simply with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil. It may be an urban legend, but a romantic one—having a pizza named after you.
Houlihan’s version comes as a flatbread with the addition of Romano cheese for $8.50. You don’t have to be fleeing cholera or be named Margherita (or even Rita) to enjoy it. 12725 Elm Creek Blvd. N.; 763.494.5380.
Lo Cal Pizza
Solos Pizza Café
If all this talk of pizza is too much for your present caloric intake regime, consider the primo pepperoni pizza at Solo Pizza Café. It delivers a sparse 440 calories and bundles of flavor with marinara, turkey pepperoni, mushroom, onion and tomato. If nothing else, give it a whirl so you can say you’ve actually eaten turkey pepperoni.
Want to stay low-cal and forgo the red sauce? They offer a white hen Florentine (490 calories) slathered with white garlic sauce that serves as a bed for chicken, spinach, onion and tomato, seasoned with fresh basil and oregano ($6.25-$7.75). With choices like this you can indulge in a “solo” pizza. 13356 Bass Lake Rd.; 763.551.9999.