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13. Jakeeno's Pizza & Pasta

Classification: Traditional

Location: Minneapolis Powderhorn

Several years ago, my wife got a late-night call from her sister, who was in a minor panic because she somehow ended up lost in an area of Minneapolis in which she was unfamiliar, which to be quite honest, would be anywhere within city limits. I don't recall every detail, but it involved her being shadowed by a mysterious sedan with tinted windows, a highly questionable payphone, getting her car stuck on some deep-rutted railroad tracks, and eventually locking the keys in her car. So, Wife and I took the short drive to connect up with her and to guide her back to the relative familiarity of the interstate, but not before we were waylaid at the doorstep of a groggy and very confused Havana manager Mike Walsh, who called me the next morning to confirm that he wasn't just dreaming that I stopped by, looking for a coat hanger. Eventually, normalcy was restored and it's now in our treasured collection of Marginally Amusing Family Tales of Woe. As mentioned, some of the particulars of the evening remain a bit hazy, but I vividly remember driving past Jakeeno's Pizza, and making a mental note that it looked exactly like the kind of pizza joint I would probably enjoy. As it turns out, I was correct.

The actual visit didn't come until a few days before Christmas in 2015. Swen and I were starting to scout pizza parlors with increasing urgency to find new equidistant possibilities, but my memory shot back to that peculiar night years earlier, and we ultimately agreed we were richer for my recollection. As the photo above helps illustrate, it's not much to look at, and there are a couple of oddly arranged tables inside, but the product was positively top-shelf. It was a nice blend of ingredients served in square-cut format in a typical neighborhood pizzeria that's been around for decades. The service was also fast and courteous, but with one sidenote: while it takes a fair amount to shock me when it comes to alternative personal appearances, our server sported what looked like a twig emerging from both sides of the bridge of her nose, forming a sort of nasal snowman. While it didn't seem to slow her down, Swen and I found ourselves rather gobsmacked at what may have possibly been history’s weirdest holiday accoutrement. Although we disagreed as to whether the twig was oak or balsam, we are in full unison in recommending Jakeeno's. (9 of 10 stars)

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