Guest Best: Aaron Landry
Great pizza is about balance. While loads of ingredients and gobs of cheese can be satisfying, a fantastic pizza is disciplined: Each flavor, smell, and texture comes out without competing. Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza in Minneapolis's North Loop is nailing that balance. Their anthracite coal oven, which is a first in Minnesota, delivers a crust that is crisp but chewy, thin but not crackery, and just firm enough to hold a slice with one hand. They have six pizzas to choose from (at 12 or 16 inches) and a full list of ingredients to design your own. The personal hot salami and dried chile pepper ($9) is a common pick, but try their large tomato and oregano ($12) with added smoked mozzarella, garlic, and fresh cherry tomatoes. With its perfect mix of sharp and sweet flavors, it's the finest pizza in the metro this year. Black Sheep's pizza is also satisfying without being heavy—a rarity in pizza found in the Midwest. Their four taps exclusively feature microbreweries, and their wine list is brief but sophisticated enough for a nice date. Co-owner and chef Jordan Smith will often stop by each table to ask if the pizza is up to snuff. Black Sheep has been a recent darling of many critics and bloggers, but Smith says, "I avoid reading that stuff—I worry I'd want to respond to anything negative." Right now, Black Sheep has little to worry about.