52. Andrea Pizza


Classification: Convenience

Location: Minneapolis Skyway


I've spent my weekdays in downtown Minneapolis pretty much since I started working, which has resulted in acquiring a lot of institutional knowledge of the skyway system--our second story indoor walkway that connects people to essential products and services, all at a comfortable 70 degrees.* It's a 1-square mile grid that allows foot traffic and commerce to continue unabated, even in the worst possible weather conditions, and is universally praised except for a small band of fools hoping for a nostalgic return to the days of trudging down icy outdoor sidewalks, though sleet and snow with an upturned collars and heads cast downward in an attempt to avoid the bone-rattling windchill while hunting for a shop to develop a roll of film or hem a pair of trousers. This ain't Manhattan.


* The exception to this rule hits me almost daily, as the skyway directly across from my office maintains a hellish 92 degrees in the winter and an overly-frosty 54 in the summer. In both cases, it feels great for a fleeting moment, but rapidly causes a casual stroll to turn into an Olympic-style walk race in an effort to advance to the next building.


So my familiarity with the skyways is rarely jolted with a surprise, as I normally can see evidence of new construction or "Coming Soon!" announcements on the plywood panels of shops and restaurants that are undergoing changes, usually weeks or months before they officially open. A rare exception was Andrea Pizza, which rests on a remote skyway cul-de-sac, pretty far off the well-trodden path of most pedestrians. This was several years ago, but my lack of awareness still haunts me as I recall the long line outside the restaurant spilling into the walkway. How could this be? I hadn't seen or heard of this place drawing massive lunch-time crowds. A quick and thorough investigation was required. Within days, I had some answers:


Yes, the slices were generous in size.

No, the flavor and quality did not amaze.

Yes, the proprietor (shown above) seemed pretty grouchy.

No, I couldn't understand the overwhelming crowds.

Yes, I would visit semi-regularly.

No, I wouldn't go very far out of my way for it.


Further investigation reveals that owner Andrea Gambino hails from a long line of Philadelphia pizza-makers, and brought the family recipe and attitude to our city thirty years ago, and now has three skyway shops. Overall, I like having this in my lunch-time arsenal, and if I'm seeking volume, condescension or co-worker avoidance, it's a respectable choice. But if I'm in the mood for great pizza, better options remain. (7 of 10 stars)

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