Location: Robbinsdale, Minnesota
It can be difficult to properly quantify the soul of a pizza, but it's a critical part of what can elevate an ordinary pie into something special. I lived a couple of miles from Eagle's Nest (an off-shoot of the Broadway Pizza empire) for almost two decades, and during that time it grew into my Hometown Pizza, which I've previously mentioned before as an essential element to neighborhood vitality. Many hours and many of my dollars fueled the operation here, and I consider it a wise investment. But it's the soul of this place that makes it special.
Look at that top photo. Growing up a couple of towns away, my memories of this little whistle-stop village on the outskirts of Minneapolis were limited, but I recall the glorious ballpark next door to the shopping center housing Broadway Pizza, which had lights. It looked like Yankee Stadium to me, and I dreamed that one day I might play there before the thousands gathered on the bountiful sprawling metal bleachers enveloping the park. Of course, now I see it was like dozens of other p[arks in the area, but I was clearly transfixed by the light towers. I never did play there. My other memory is begrudgingly dining at Broadway Pizza with my mom while my brother had his stupid trumpet lessons at the music shop in the mall's southern wing. At the time, there was a Red Barn Restaurant that I found so bewitching that I could barely even taste the pizza as I pouted my way through at least two or three meals.
But it was a temporary disappointment that would be rectified in the ensuing years, and as the Broadway brand grew in the Twin Cities, and their restaurants seemingly mushroomed to every neighborhood and suburb in the city. I've dined at at least six or seven of them, with varying degrees of success, but the Hometown Pizza was always ready, always comforting, and always satisfying. They re-named it Eagle's Nest about 20 years ago both to reflect its newly-acquired liquor license and to pay homage to the franchisee's surname, but the quality remained unchanged. This is a pizza with soul. (8 of 10 stars)