Location: Roseville, Minnesota
"It was the best of pizzas, it was the worst of pizzas."
—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
The time I've spent at Aurelio's is a riddle cloaked in mystery and intrigue. I visited in 2014 with a group of about 7-8 friends for the PGB playoffs, and after reviewing my notes and re-listening to Groundout Radio's chronicling (where we all gave it consistently high marks) my recollection was confirmed. There were no obvious flaws, and the main takeaway was that it met everyone's basic needs, and probably surpassed a few as well. Our politely raucous group even stayed a bit past closing time, until our midwestern sensibilities kicked in and we voluntarily hauled our merry band across the parking lot to Perkins to complete Chuck's coronation as champion. We left Aurelio's satisfied with both their hospitality and quality, and universally agreed that we'd gladly return.
As it turns out, that day might not happen, or not at least as we remember. A quick search revealed that Aurelio's has abandoned it longtime inner-ring suburban neighborhood in favor of the outlying-but-rapidly-expanding village of Ramsey, and according to the Yelpers, it's not going all that great. Full disclosure: I haven't frequented the new digs, and I don't mean to hijack the experience of other diners, but this is pretty alarming stuff. Pizza is undeniably enhanced by dingy surroundings, and the idea that its quality will increase when moving to a clean and modern food processing facility with ample parking and freeway access is patently absurd. But for now, I must remain firm with my convictions, and declare (old) Aurelio's as a solid dining experience, although a tad shy of being absolute top-shelf.
I also uncovered the fact that Aurelio's is yet another Chicago brand that has extended its tentacles to surrounding states, which might explain a relocation designed to satisfy certain business constituencies, potentially at the expense of the artistry that made such a good impression on us. This was a good pizza, and I'll be back. But I'll be watching. (8 of 10 stars)