Punch Pizza No Knock Out

Last night Jen, Jer, Sam, and I went for a leisurely dinner at Punch Neapolitan Pizza.

Punch Pizza is continually declared the best pizza in the Twin Cities. The City Pages included Punch on their Best of Lists in 2003 and 2004, the Mpls.St.Paul Magazine also ranks it highly.

On this particular Saturday night, the space was loud. So loud, catching up with friends was impossible. The only way to keep a conversation going was to lean halfway over the table (also the only way for to get comfortable in the tiny chairs). Conceivable for a party of 2, impossible for 4.

I’m a big fan of rosemary and quite enjoyed the foccaciafocaccia bread. My main course, the Cortin – gorgonzola, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and garlic – I did not enjoy. I expected subtle, rich flavors. All I tasted – crust.

Jen had a fantastic time. She gives high praises to the roasted olives, and her selection – topped with capers, olives, onions. “I wouldn’t have stopped eating it, except I wanted left overs.”

We took half of each pizza home, put it in the fridge. I had the Cortin for breakfast this morning. Perhaps it was the quiet leisure of cold pizza on a Sunday morning, I finally tasted the deep flavors I expected the night before.

My vote for best pizza in the Twin Cities: Pizza Luce’s garlic mashed potato with chicken on Punch’s crust.

Be sure to catch Scott McGerik’s review of Punch Pizza. He and I agree Pizza Nea offers the best non-mashed potato pizzas.

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15 thoughts on “Punch Pizza No Knock Out

  1. Sorry, for me, the mention of Luce as “best” of anything makes me take this review with a pound of salt. Luce has more oil than taste, none of the ingredients are discernable, the dough is like a sponge (at least you insinuated as much), and the ingredients are as cheap as they get.
    Also, I’ve only done takeout.
    But then again, pizza is soooooooo personal.
    I do agree that Nea’s better.

  2. I totally disagree. I think the way Punch Pizza is meant to be enjoyed is plain and simple. Next time try the Napoli or Margarita pizza. As far as Pizza Nea, the wait staff is completely clueless, I think they have little respect for the art of Neopolitan Pizza.

  3. Punch Pizza The Highland location on Cleavland
    First of all we called ahead good thing there is NO waiting area. But got seated promptly. The restaurant it self was packed but when I say packed I mean packed. The tables were so close I felt intrusive. We had now where to look but straight ahead. Conversation had plenty of them every one around us. Service was good. The pizza sucked. I can’t remember what mine was called but it showed up with my proshuto uncooked with some uncooked leaves (not Oregon or basil) I ordered mushrooms extra may have been at best 4 pieces. A little bland sauce and mozzarella so thin I don’t know why they bothered. The wife had the sausage I liked it a little better. Still skimpy toppings. Ok now the crust. The crust was good that’s all. I think every one thinks it’s so great because the topping is so crappy. Want a high brow pizza go to Alvento’s in Minneapolis. Want rib sticking pizza go to Savoy in St Paul or in Minneapolis Dulanos.

  4. I think Punch has good Pizza, but I also think Luce has great pizza. Pizza Nea is ok, if Luce was closed and I wanted a cheap imitation, Luce has always been my #1 pizza of choice when I want pizza, Punch is good when I want something like pizza, but not pizza. Nea is like K-Mart Luce, I’ll take the real thing.

  5. Michael, I find the comparison between Nea and Punch closer than Nea and Luce.

    Luce to me is contemporary American style with both Nea and Punch pursuing traditional Neapolitan.

  6. Punch crust is amazing. The pizza is a bit heavy in oil, but I think their Margherita pizza is great. I don’t think it’s fair to compare it to Luce or any place that isn’t a Neapolitan pizza place. I like Punch way more than Pizza Nea, as Nea is bland bland bland.

    I think the close-together thing is more or less to help create the Italian atmosphere. I’ve had that happen in Italy.

    Luce is good. Paradise Pizza is better. I’d give Dulano’s high praise as well, and Lake Harriet Pizza is pretty good.

  7. The Margarita with the mozzarella di bufalo and basil with the imported tomatoes from Naples is something sent from heaven. Combine that with the brick-oven cooked crust and any other kind of pizza will never measure up.

  8. Punch Pizza is light years better than any other Neopolitan pizza in the Twin Cities (if not the US) – but it must be ordered properly. Punch Pizza is AUTHENTIC Neopolitan pizza, thus is must be ordered AUTHENTICALLY. Which means:

    1) You have to stick to the true Neopolitan recipe – cheese, sauce & crust. Your choice is either a Margarita if you prefer basil or a Napoli if you prefer oregano – that’s it! You can maybe add one traditional topping if you absolutely positively have to – but that’s all. You certainly do not americanize and mutilate the purity and perfection of the Vera Napoletana end product with a bunch of ridiculous american toppings/add-ons/substitutions (for instance – if you want that absurd gorgonzola, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and garlic insanity mentioned in the above article then you should definitely go somewhere else – Punch is not for you).

    2) The only substitution you MUST remember to make is the one that makes the pizza MORE authentic. You must always remember to substitute the authentic, flown in from Italy, ultra fresh mozzarella di bufalo for the regular mozzarella. This is CRITICAL – on a scale of 1-10 Punch Pizza is a 7 with the regular mozzarella…..it’s a 20 with the fresh mozzarella di bufalo. But you must ask for it….they don’t give it to you automatically.

    3) I’d also recommend asking for light oil (this should solve your problem TJ) as the pizza is already ‘wet’ enough.

    4) And finally, ALWAYS eat it there….you can’t get it ‘to go’. The amazingly fresh ingredients – the unparalleled crust and the imported San Marzana tomato sauce & bufalo di mozzarella are fired at 850′ for just a few minutes to create this award winning taste….you can’t take it home and ‘reheat’ something like this….it all coagulates obviously and the end product is destroyed. Always eat it right there on the spot.

    That’s it….you do all that and it will be the best-tasting, freshest Neopolitan pizza you’ve ever had….period. Nothing else compares – unless you wanna travel to Napoli :-). But remember, this is the best Authentic Neopolitan Pizza people….if you’re looking for Americanized pizza….ie – either New York style with lots and lots of cheese/toppings or California style with lots and lots of weird, exotic substitutions/add-ons go somewhere else. The Art of Punch’s award winning Vera Pizza Napoletana is all about the true essence of pizza – the best-tasting, freshest crust, sauce & cheese on the planet.

  9. Obviously it’s a matter of what you’re looking for… Punch pizza isn’t something I’d want to eat often, but it’s also not trying to be like the typical American pizza. I appreciate what they’re doing, it’s just not always my thing.

    Pizzeria Uno is probably still my favorite (insert disapproving eye rolls if you must); unfortunately Madison is probably the closest one now. Love the fabulous, pastry-like crust.

    (Incidentally, Garrick, this page is currently the 6th ranked Google result for “Punch Pizza”…)

  10. i was just looking for info on the new punch restaurants that have recently popped up, and i came across this… just thought i’d add my 2cents.

    i’d just like to reaffirm everything CDSIII said. it is spot on. in grad school there was a visiting prof in our department, and he was from napoli, italy. he had often complained about the lack of REAL pizza in the US. then one day he arrived at school raving about some restaurant he’d just been to… it turned out to be punch. he not only said it was excellent pizza and very consistent with true neopolitain style, but he said it was the best pizza he has EVER had outside of napoli, italy. he said other parts of italy (specifically naming rome) don’t even offer a pizza as good as punch. coming from a native neopolitan, i think this says a lot. he talked just the way CDSIII talked…

    so with that, go have yourself a simple, unpolluted, and pure margarita or napoli punch pizza… and enjoy.

    ps – in the opinion of this italian friend of mine, he does not even think the “napoli” pizza is pure enough… i guess the true grand-daddy is the margarita pizza with fresh basil. although, i prefer the napoli…

  11. Napoli with buffalo cheese and pepperoni is definitely a favorite of mine. I’ve tried a few other combinations, but as others have said – plain is the way to go.

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