Angelo's (St. Paul)
There's this thing about pizza: People will eat it no matter how bad it is. Whether it's cardboard-bottomed frozen pizza or delivered pies floating in grease, when's the last time you looked at that slice in your hand and said, "This isn't very good. I don't want to eat it"?
We suppose it's because pizza is easy. Once it's done, you can't send it back, and if there were anything else around for dinner you wouldn't have ordered pizza in the first place. The key to the whole experience, then, is to start with a decent pizza. Give Angelo's a call.
This is not yuppie pizza with goat cheese and artichoke hearts. Angelo's serves utterly unpretentious tomato sauce pizza with a range of toppings that covers all the basics and a few exotic choices such as sauerkraut, barbecue sauce and shrimp. Everybody will find something to like because it's darned good.
Angelo's serves pizza in thin-crust and pan-style varieties. The thin crust is perfect: flexible, a little crisp, a little chewy. The sauce is good and comes covered with generous handfuls of your favorite toppings. The cheese is not so heavy that it drags the slice apart at every bite. The pan-style crust is also good, though it's thicker than we like. If a really bready crust appeals, order the pan-style. You'll get plenty of toppings and the same nicely browned cheese.
Angelo's menu includes a small selection of American-Italian classics. The restaurant makes its own meatballs, which you can get with spaghetti, ravioli or baked manicotti. None of these are standouts. Angelo's also offers an all-you-can-eat spaghetti option, but there are no additional meatballs with your second helping. The chicken baked spaghetti -- kind of a chicken and spaghetti stew -- was surprisingly nice. The other entrees would be improved by more peppers and onions.
The entrees come with miniature loaves of bread, a charming extra. Unfortunately, these are buttered with what tastes like the same ghastly oil found on popcorn in movie theaters that don't spring for real butter. Even ordering the bread with garlic couldn't overcome this disappointment.
The iceberg-lettuce salads are uninspiring -- as well as the antipasto salad -- though the homemade blue cheese dressing is particularly good. You can also order several different sandwiches. But for lunch Angelo's serves pizza by the slice, so have that.
We recommend staying away from the Italian fries and the Cinna fries. The former is strips of pizza dough that you can dip in spaghetti sauce. The latter is a sweetened pizza dough with cinnamon and icing. It's a gut bomb, and not a very good one at that.
Angelo's delivers, but only to South St. Paul. That's OK. Hop on Interstate Hwy. 494, go to the 7th Street exit, and head just a few blocks north for one of the Twin Cities' pizza jewels. Eat in or take out. It's worth the trip for delicious pizza.