Location: New Hope, Minnesota
Finding suitable locations for the last several podcasts has become an emerging challenge for me and Swen, as we've inched toward exhausting the most convenient traditional sit-down pizza diners within our weirdly shaped and gerrymandered Westonka-Downtown-Bethel corridor. Toss in a pandemic and our amorphous working schedules, finding new places has become more problematic than we ever could have anticipated. But way back in 2017, when I innocently suggested trying The Italian Pie Shoppe & Winery, I could immediately sense the tension rising in Swen—even through his thinly-veiled and dog-whistled response:
I was mildly concerned, because I hadn't seen him this nervous since I suggested that he give the poutine a try at Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub in St. Paul several years earlier.
Arriving at the designated time, the relief emanating from Swen was palpable upon his discovery that we'd be spending our evening podcasting from nothing more than a bowling alley with upscale branding. But it gets better: the pizza was indeed upscale, adding another example of why finding good pizza can be even more hit-and-miss than volcanic seismography readings. Served in a smallish banquet room (with high-backed naugahyde chairs!) and separated from the actual bowling alley, the "shoppe" served their pie like good Minnesotans—tavern cut with generous cheese and toppings while surrounded by dozens of suburban Joes as though it was quittin' time at the bar just down the street from the mill. And it makes perfectly good sense that a place like that needs to serve good food to keep the clientele happy, and we left quite satisfied. Dave & Swen podcasting from a winery? Not on this day. (9 of 10 stars).