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47. Punch Pizza

Classification: Artisan

Location: Wayzata, Minnesota

If you listened to the most recent episode of Groundout Radio, you heard Chuck and Jeremy talking about the oddity that has become Trey Mancini's PGB statline. It's hard to find any major faults with his 2019 season with Baltimore (a healthy .899 OPS and 35 HR), but something unexplainable has happened, and many observers are struggling to try and come up with a reasonable explanation for his statistical improbability. But there is no explanation, and so it is with Punch Pizza. It's a solid .850 OPS in the pizza world, but it seems to receive widespread acclaim that doesn't completely align with its justifiable value.

For example, 6-7 years ago, I worked at my company's display booth at a local rock festival. As we tried to raise awareness about poverty and housing issues, we wanted festival-goers to pose in front of our logo backdrop with air guitars and post the photos on our social media page. Fun and awareness for everyone, right? Well, it was challenging for people to pause their fun button for a few minutes, which is understandable—after all, nobody showed up that night hoping to nobly shlep for some random nonprofit organization. Aaah, but as soon as we started offering a gift card for a free Punch pizza, well, we had a queue snaking around the block, teeming with people lining up to enthusiastically demand justice for the homeless! To underscore, Punch is just fine, and I'd be pretty cool with getting it for free too. But throughout the evening, I witnessed a constant refrain of "Oooh, I LOVE Punch pizza. Tell me again, what do I have to do?" People were losing their minds trying to get it, and it just struck me as highly illogical.

So. it's a semi fast-food approach that scores well for artistry and ambience, and the technical scores are solid. Every coal-fired pizza is made to order, and personal sized pies are usually served in just 2-3 minutes. It's artisanal, but not over-the-top, and features a really soft (almost limp) crust with either a Margherita or Napoli-style. Overall, it's really quite good, but like Trey Mancini, just don't expect it to amaze and inspire on a regular, long-term basis. (8 of 10 stars)

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