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65. Pizza Lucé

Classification: Artisan

Location: Minneapolis Downtown

I do not dislike Pizza Lucé, but they're in need of a "tough talk" because their story is about a pizza whose reputation exceeds its substance. It's not like there's anything seriously wrong with the pizza here. Ask around town about people's favorites, and as often as not, Pizza Lucé will garner at least a mention, and yet I find absolutely no basis for such a conclusion. It's not a coincidence that I placed this in the middle of the pack, because their output simply doesn't measure up with the pizza elites any longer. To their credit, they were on the frontline of innovation when they launched a few decades ago, but now it's starting to feel like the food has become incidental in a quest for "edginess." It plays well to the inebriated masses that regularly line up outside after bar closing, but like I said, it just feels like the pizza has become the sideshow, and the greater emphasis now is fostering a safe space for employees to display their faux-edgy tattoo sleeves and anarchist t-shirts adorned with "Legalize" flair. I'd probably like the place better if staffers were forced to dress like Best Buy employees for a day.

But there is some good here too. I've always liked the crust, and though it's not my preferred thin crust, it's soft, flaky and nicely seasoned. I've had a few of their oddball artisanal creations when group ordering, but when I've kept things to the basics, it's fairly solid overall. It's the Robinson Cano of pizza: a run of greatness, but now merely functional, and probably being supported by a few chemical alterations.

A parting story: In the late 90s, I worked at a publishing house and my department ordered Pizza Lucé for lunch. My buddy Craig volunteered to run downstairs to meet the delivery guy, and in his excitement, he missed a stair and twisted his foot, breaking it in two places. He bravely powered through our lunch before the pain grew to be too much, and headed to the emergency room, coming back to work a couple hours later with cast and crutches. That was truly heroic, but it didn't end there. Our colleague Ellen had earlier some won tickets for Monday Night Football, so our long day morphed into an after-hours work social at the Metrodome for the Vikings-Bears game. It wasn't quite on the level of Ronnie Lott cutting off his injured finger during a game, but Craig earned some serious pizza cred that day. (6 of 10 stars)

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