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34. Ginelli's Pizza

Classification: Convenience

Location: Minneapolis Skyway

This isn't exactly a "Cheers" type of situation, because absolutely nobody at Ginelli's knows my name, but I've dined there frequently enough to at least be considered somewhat of a regular. For the last twelve years, I've worked from a building that's about a five-minute walk from here, so partly out of convenience, but mostly due to excellence and consistency, I'd estimate that I've enjoyed at least 80 lunch hour visits, and probably more when factoring in the occasional pizza party delivered directly to the office. So, while I've not yet waded into Norm and Cliff territory, I've been around long enough to not only develop a favorite table, but also enough to spot the numerous other regulars that populate the Ginelli's landscape. Depending on the time, season, and your level of patience, you might encounter of these truly unique creatures:

The Professor canned be spotted by his ever-present bow-tie and casually perusing the Wall Street Journal. Normally seated at a small table in the center of the back room, he's a constant and calming presence; a solitary predator with a taste for dining alone.

It's easy to locate Large Marge all around town. When not surrounded in her elements at Ginelli's, she can also be found at the skyway-level lounge in the AT&T Tower a block away with earbuds and a Sudoku book. But at Ginelli's, she's royalty.

Brutus works behind the counter, and despite a slightly menacing appearance, is fast, friendly, and extremely generous when distributing the breadstick rations. He's quick with a smile, and like the rest of his colleagues, a true gem of an employee.

The Gambler's habitat is near the soda fountain. He's a 30-something professional that I'm concerned is battling an addiction, pouring over the betting lines of the sports section, with a sharpened pencil and a perpetual scowl. It seems like he's on extended run of bad luck, yet remains very satisfied with his lunch.

The annoying Comptroller Tom sits way too close to my preferred table, and is, in fact, actually a comptroller named Tom. I know this because he works at the same company as I do (although we've never formally met) making our occasional overlap somewhat strained.

There are a few others, but I can safely count on at least one of them being there on any given visit. As far as the pizza, Ginelli's is easily the best of the Minneapolis skyway options. Usually 4-5 different varieties are ready in their pizza-under-glass display. It's served in traditional wedges, and the blend of cheese/crust/sauce is nicely balanced. Service is always efficient, and the staff is very friendly, but one slight pitfall is that it isn't cheap. While I rotate my menu selections a bit, a typical lunch will run $8-9, but obviously it hasn't been much of a roadblock for me. Due to this crazy pandemic, it's been several months since I've been able to dine there, but I'm looking forward to the day when I can be re-united with my pizza mates. Even if they don't know my name, I'm always glad I came. (8 of 10 stars)

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