Location: Eden Prairie, Minnesota
It used to be an annual ritual in our household to support our local high school marching band / chess club / fencing team / improv troop / pep squad / 4H club by purchasing a Happenings coupon book. For $25, we could visit a different restaurant or attraction for half-price—pretty much thrice daily for an entire year if we chose to go on an unprecedented coupon bender. These books were as thick as a Sears catalog, and led our family to trying out some places that would have never appeared on our radar. I actually haven't seen them for several years, but I assume that they're around, but maybe our neighborhood has simply matured to the point that the high school sales staff has zigged in other directions, or that most of my neighbors now spend their disposable income at Wayfair or supplemental Medicare insurance plans with Part D prescription benefits. No, not me; I want to see the return of the fabled coupon book so I can eat lots of pizza and tacos, and also because it led my family to uncover Detello's, a small but essential lynchpin in Twin Cities pizza folklore.
Firmly entrenched in a densely populated section of the booming southwest suburbs, it's a little out of the way for me, about a 25 minute drive. Many years ago, while wandering through Eden Prairie around the dinner hour, we pulled the Happenings book from the glove box and suddenly, a new chapter in our family pizza history had been written. Because of its enduring and consistent quality, part of me wishes that it were closer, but in some ways, the distance has converted Detello's into a special occasion or a Destination Pizza. Wifey loves it, the family loves it, even the in-laws love it. Many birthdays and game-day takeouts have been enhanced here, and in 2014, Swen finally made the 40-mile (for him) pilgrimage to see what I'd been raving about, and he was quick to confirm that its ranking among the top metro area pizzerias is indeed warranted. So, how exactly does it elevate? First of all, on my numerous visits, it's never had an off-day. It's like Springsteen in concert; positively utopian in every one of my dozen-plus visits. Technically speaking, the blending and quality of ingredients is top-shelf, and a large 15-inch pie is sizable enough for dinner and still have a little left to take home. Finally, it's a great dining room, a testament to the 1970-80s with a jukebox, dimmed lighting and faux-woodsiness all around. It’s immaculate.
One final anecdote: For several years, my workplace division was headed by a competent and charismatic leader, Tim, who typically ended our monthly staff meetings with a fun "talker" question for discussion—usually about pop culture or an amusing tale from childhood. During the early formation of this jovial office tango, I habitually usurped Robert's Rules of Order by providing not one, but two responses to the daily question: I suppose that most often my first answer was designed to tickle the ears of the Top-40 crowd in the room, and my second, more personal response, derived from my own "deep-cuts" playlist—and therefore was likely to be appreciated by a more selective audience. When the topic turned to pizza, I don't even recall my first response, as I was still working through some emotional pizza turmoil at the time, but my second response was Detello's, tossed out more as a little-known dark horse in the great pizza debate. But Tim pounced quickly, (breaking away from both his position as neutral arbiter and enforcer of general office decorum) by offering up a verbal "ding, ding, ding", the universal auditory symbol for upper management's seal of approval. Luckily for me, I don't correlate self-worth with vocational achievement, but I think I gained a certain level of professional respect on that day. Detello's... thanks for years of doing me solids. (10 of 10 stars)