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23. Pizza Flame

Classification: Traditional

Location: Coon Rapids, Minnesota

My periodic patronage of Pizza Flame extends over a couple of decades, as my first visit occurred in the mid-1980s, a time when we were settled in a town that was often frequently self-referred to as "Friendly" Fridley. It was then, as it is now, a solid local pizza hangout, just down the road from the hospital, that serves up a good pie with methodical consistency. Our most recent visit was in 2013 after the restaurant's relocation a few miles north to a rival hospital zone, when Swen and The Commish joined me for Podcast #8, back in a time when our whole pizza-critiquing lives felt like they were still ahead of us. We sampled two different kinds that night, our usual thin crust (shown above), and also a double crust, which can best be described as two thin crusts basically stacked on each other. Swen, being a sauce man, felt satisfied with the flavor and viscosity, and The Commish and I found the crust/cheese/topping blend very harmonious. High fives all around.

And despite the satisfaction, I can't help but to harken back to a more sinister time at Pizza Flame when a convergence of peculiar circumstances led me and my wife to a group outing with an unnecesarily disgruntled fringe of the church choir. And no, I was not part of the choir, but my wife was. While the pizza was excellent, the company was to say the least, curious, and left both of us scratching our heads as we departed. Dark tales of infighting, quarreling, and petty jealousies that were bubbling just beneath the surface can easily affect any artistic group, but I just never imagined that our church's choir was basically a re-enactment of The Eagles' final months. I'd never seen anything like it. But all's well now, and I hope to refresh my familiarity with The Flame again soon. It's an all-around good performer that we awarded universally high marks. You could do much worse. (9 of 10 stars)

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