Location: St. Paul Town Square
In the early 1980s, as I gazed over the brand-new, grandiosity of St. Paul Town Square, I saw a brave new world emerge. This place was like a shopping mall, yet slightly more upscale. It was like a downtown, but much more enclosed and convenient. It was familiar, yet unparalleled. And it featured something never before witnessed by mankind...something new; something extraordinary. Something from a futuristic novel. It was the dawning of the Food Court. Arby's? Check. Taco Bell? Check. Chinese, Greek, or Thai? Check, check, and triple-check. But really, only one place mattered. Two slices for $2? Game on.
The quality and consistency of Sbarro could be debated and even agreed to be suspect at best. And the idea of food court dining being a serious option no longer seems feasible. And yet, it was an idea that emerged in the absolute fullness of time, and I confess to really enjoying my time spent within its faux-talian decor. I lived a few blocks away for a few years post-college, and it was a dietary mainstay. More than once I sheepishly carried a whole pie to my apartment, always drawing unwanted attention on the sidewalk or skyway. Audible comments were frequent, most of which I would simply shrug off, or give an accepting half-smile acknowledgement, but often it was a race against time to arrive home before the pizza cooled. A lot was at stake, and I knew it.
The food court heyday has run its cycle, and now a breaching of its dying confines is an act borne solely out of desperation. I'm not even certain that this place is still around, but I suspect that it is, and honestly, I'm not proud of this ranking. But there is such a thing as a satisfaction scale, and it's the one place where Sbarro actually elevated itself. You were good. (7 of 10 stars)