It may be cliche to go to restaurants on shows like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, but there is a reason many of these places get featured on those shows. The food is great, the atmosphere rules, or it just has an aura of hype surrounding it. Pizzeria Lola is one of the Triple D Hall-of-Famers in Minneapolis that creates funky fusion worth checking out. Not only that, but one of SP‘s friends works there.
Alright, so a Korean woman moves to Minnesota and decides that she loves pizza so much she’ll make a restaurant and name it after her dog. Works for us.
We started off by ordering some of Lola’s delicious roasted cauliflower. It’s slightly sour, kissed by the citrus of lemon juice, but with a kick of chili pepper rings. Eat your vegetables!
The other starter we picked was the meatballs to share around the table. Any place that has a kind of Italian red sauce should have meatballs to show you they mean business. And boy does Lola mean business. These meatballs come out in a baked dish overflowing with sauce and parmesan cheese, and served alongside some crostini to balance the chew with some crunch. The meatballs are so tender that they crumple when they reach your tongue. So you take a crostino, a chunk of a meatball (or the whole thing at once, we won’t judge) and scoop some extra sauce and cheese before placing it carefully in your mouth. It’ll get on your shirt, but instead of using your napkin, you’ll unconsciously lean over, pick up your shirt, and lick it off. Awesome meatballs.
Let’s get to the pies, shall we? The first feature here is a favorite on the menu called The Xerxes, named after the street on which the restaurant stands, and has a flavor that takes after the namesake’s downfall (Greek, that is). Spinach, feta, mozzarella, kalamata olives, and almonds top this Mediterranean style flatbread. No red sauce here? Blasphemy! Tasty, tasty blasphemy.
One with more fusion style is the Lady Zaza, one of chef Ann Kim’s Korean-inspired pizzas. Who puts kimchi on a pizza?! Lola does. Red sauce, Korean sausage, spicy serrano peppers (one of SP‘s favorite for use in cooking), scallions, sesame seeds, and this crazy glaze that reminds you of bulgogi with elements of soy and chili paste. In each bite, you get some of the soft chew of baked kimchi (which normally is a strong pickly crunch) and spicy sausage with the scallions on top. It’s a remarkable foray into mixing styles of two very different cuisines.
Lack of red sauce is hardly blasphemy compared to one of SP‘s favorite pizzas on the menu and AK now agrees: The Marinara, which has no cheese. Instead, you get the robust red sauce with olive oil, oregano, and garlic confit. The best trick is to order this pie with extra garlic. For us, olive oil will never be overrated. It brings out so much in Italian cooking that it’s hard to imagine a world without it. And even without cheese, the soft, mushy garlic makes up for that missing flavor. Garlic is king on this amazing pizza.
Now for a little bit of dessert. How about some ice cream with olive oil?