The Twin Cities’ best imported pizza

When out-of-towners play the ’za game, everybody wins.

Crescent Moon, located off 15th and Como Ave, is home of the

Bridget Bennett

Crescent Moon, located off 15th and Como Ave, is home of the “Football Pizza”.

Sarah Harper

There are some places in this world — Chicago, Italy, Jon Stewart’s house — where your favorite slice says more about you than anything else. But Minnesotans have a more relaxed attitude toward ’za.

 Is that a good thing? Look around you: The Twin Cities’ pizza landscape is dominated by cheap grub for the inebriated and more gourmet, gimmicky spots. It’s a little more than our wallets and stomachs can handle.

Out-of-towners have discovered that if you want to do something right — in this case, the casual, affordable, occasionally gritty ’za joint — you have to buck up and do it yourself.

A&E has found three of the best imported pizzas in the Twin Cities area. Skip the side salads, grab your Pepto and come along with us on a magical mystery pizza tour of the Twin Cities.

 

Stop #1: Aurelio’s Pizza

2827 Hamline Ave., Roseville

 

Located in a strip mall, Aurelio’s is the kind of place where little league teams have their end-of-the-season parties. Get a friend to drive you to Roseville for a surprisingly sugary sauce balanced by a firm, sharp layer of cheese.

The family-owned chain has its roots in Illinois, with branches scattered across Indiana and a few other states.

If you’re from around those parts, this place will feel just like home with its stained glass lamps and cozy, wooded feel. And if you’re not, you owe it to yourself to take a trip to Aurelio’s for a makeshift game of Trivial Pursuit — there are cards on every table — and some down-home Italian. Tell ’em A&E sent you.

 

Stop #2: Rocky Rococo

7540 Brooklyn Blvd., Brooklyn Park

 

Rocky Rococo is a one-of-a-kind spot. At what other restaurant would you see a poster of the owner as a child, proudly displaying his impressive collection of used and rolled chewing gum? That’s Rocky Rococo for you, the Wisconsin pizza chain that walks the fine line between savory and sickening and somehow never falls off the edge. Don’t believe us? Ask anyone from Madison, where the chain got its start in 1974.

Head out to the branch in Brooklyn Park and get yourself a pan-style pizza. Here, it’s thick, heavy and soft. If you’re used to thinner crusts, your body may go through something that feels like shock. Pacify that feeling by also ordering a thin crust. Hey, it’s a pizza party! Why not make a day of it? There’s a Brunswick Zone across the street.

 

Stop #3: Crescent Moon Pizza

1517 Como Ave. S.E., Minneapolis

 

Bring it all back home to Como for the last spot on our grand pizza tour. There’s another Crescent Moon location in Northeast, but we’ll go to the one across the street from Muddsuckers Coffee. This branch of the family-run Afghani restaurant is so close that you could stop by between classes.

Crescent Moon pies have a delightfully different taste than the other pizzerias we’ve been to on our whirlwind tour — the crust tastes like pastry dough and you can get toppings like eggplant and Afghani beef.  

If you’re stopping in for a slice, grab one with gyro and smother it in tangy green sauce. If you’re going big, skip the traditional round and get a football pizza, so named for its elliptical shape. ’Tis the season, after all.