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39. Maggie's Family Restaurant

Classification: Traditional

Location: Wayzata, Minnesota

We're at the point in this countdown where it's starting to feel like the playoffs; where a few junior contenders are getting some well-deserved accolades despite having noticeable flaws that prevent them from achieving true pizza immortality. If this were the March Madness tournament, we'd be left with mostly high-ranked teams peppered with a couple of surprises. Well, Maggie's is that 13th seed that's somehow still hanging in with the big guys.

Start with the unassuming name: Maggie's. Family. Restaurant. Operating since 1979, it's more like Perkin's than even Perkin's is—specializing in all-day breakfast and demonstrating limited ambition to change. Even more curiously, it has assumed residence in the metropolitan area's most affluent neighborhood, surrounded by four-star dining and million-dollar homes in all directions. In all honesty, it wouldn't stand a puncher's chance on Food Network's Pizza Throwdown, and yet here we are, like Colgate University competing in the Big Ten. Yes, the pizza is good, but as mentioned earlier, the soul of a pizza can make up for a lot, and Maggie's is dealing its own special brand of soul.

There's a disconnect when enjoying an above-average pizza while surrounded by legions of omelette-eating seniors and high schoolers sharing a plate of hash browns on their first date (driving up in Dad's Bentley, of course.) Maybe in a traditional sense there's no reason to expect inspired pizza, but whenever I visit Maggie's, it's been more satisfying than it seems like it should. So if I put aside my biases, this is a surprisingly good place to take the family for pizza. It's in their name. (8 of 10 stars)

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