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60. Carbone's Pizzeria

Classification: Traditional

Location: Mound, Minnesota

In one of the earliest baseball games I can recall attending in person, I watched in awe as Twins catcher George Mitterwald went 3-4 with a double, triple, and a homerun. It was a stroke of good social fortune for me among the neighborhood rapscallions, as they occasionally boasted to new acquaintances that I was "the kid who was at The Mitterwald Game." For many years, I was convinced that he was a future Hall of Famer, partly based on my personal eyewitness account, and partly on a scientific principle that eludes most 8-year-olds— Small Sample Size. When he was later dealt away to the Cubs, I was a bit miffed, yet my fandom continued unabated, and I grew to love and admire the new players that served as his replacement. The passage of time has cruelly revealed Mitterwald to offer only marginal value, but his heroics and bravery (especially on the triple) will remain forever etched in my memory. Hometown biases can be tricky to navigate.

In my life, I've managed to establish a true hometown pizza relationship only a few times. When all the civic cylinders are clicking into place, the symmetry that a resident shares with his/her local pizzeria is pure poetry. It's like a team that possesses a great home-field advantage; you just know that it's nearly impossible to be conquered at your home stadium/arena. Likewise, the hometown pizza is essentially a guaranteed pizza victory. It's reliable, memorable, and available. Despite all these deep-seated (but honorable) emotions, I instead choose scientific data, defying my desperate desire to rate Carbone's much higher on this list.

It is my hometown pizza, and it is average.

My wife and I have basked in numerous successes there; half the time, the pizza is excellent. The dining room looks like the "after" shots of an episode of Property Brothers, and we often bump into neighbors and friends there. If Cheers were a pizza joint, it might look something like this. But its inconsistency is its downfall. In recent years, we've come to expect cosmetic flaws, uneven heating, and comical delays in service. I have even heard rumblings of suspicious activities among staffers. So is this glass half full, or half empty? I am heartened by tales from co-worker Hayley, who entrusts her family's nutritional needs and wellness to a Carbone's across town in the Mac-Groveland, neighborhood, but here in Mound, you're in Mitterwald territory. (7 of 10 stars)

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