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87. Frankie V's Italian

Classification: Specialty

Location: Target Field, Minneapolis

Ballpark pizza is a handicapped proposition even before taste-testing begins, because the disadvantages are literally baked into the equation. At the ballpark, you’re in Hot Dog Country, and trying to overturn an ingrained American culinary institution and centuries of tradition, well, it's bringing a knife to a gunfight. Think about this: a day at the ballpark is, in reality, a restaurant catering to 35,000 guests, plus live entertainment. It’s not that pizza can’t work, and in fact, an argument could be made that its greatness is only intensified when set before a ball game on a cool breezy summer night. You just have to realize that, even to this pizza fanboy, when you’re at the game, not many things can compete with a ballpark dog.

All this reminds me of an unusual turn of events that actually started just across the street from Target Field at the basketball arena, Target Center. The team employed vendors to walk the stands with mini-pizzas, which was a little unorthodox, but still appreciated. I kept seeing the same vendor each time I attended, and he always seemed to be getting hassled by patrons about the price, or available toppings…or whatever. But the guy was pretty relaxed and demonstrated solid conflict-avoidance skills, at least enough for me to notice. And a year or two later, after being introduced to the new college intern in the office, I kept badgering myself: “Who is that guy? I know him.” Of course I eventually figured out it was Chill Pizza Guy, and through my mastery of casual office banter, it was confirmed. We’re on LinkedIn now.

It's been replaced as the official pizza vendor of record, and while it was not a ballpark hot dog, Frankie V’s more held its own. (5 of 10 stars)

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