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9. Scoreboard Pizza

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

Classification: Traditional

Location: Brooklyn Center, Minnesota

I took a trip to San Francisco with my family a few years ago where we witnessed all the obligatory destinations: the Golden Gate Bridge, Haight-Ashbury, the Painted Ladies, Chinatown, the Wharf, and so many more places. Oh, and also the church where Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe. I enjoyed all of them, but the "Alcatraz After Dark" tour was probably our favorite. Since it's been voided of its notoriously criminal element for over fifty years and given a tourist-grade disinfecting and vermin extermination, the place probably looked better now than anytime it did during its years of service as the most secure penitentiary in America. Maybe it's because I haven't spent a whole lot of time in the clink, but one thing that left an indelible impression was the heavy-handed approach to interior decorating. That's hardly surprising, but with an unrelenting glare of overhead lighting, a total void of anything resembling privacy, or the lack of any color to soften all the steely gray surfaces and break up the sharp parallels, well... it felt a little coarse. A few throw pillows and an area rug would really breathe some freshness into the big house, but even on a self-guided tour, it's a tough place.

Now, I fully realize it's possibly a bit of a stretch to correlate the conditions at a maximum-security prison to those of your typical friendly neighborhood pizzeria, and to be perfectly clear, Scoreboard Pizza will not remind anyone of the hoosgow. I only draw the comparison to help underscore how the dining area here exudes more of a Cell Block E design influence than HGTV: bland beige walls and very extensive use of easy-to-clean formica and naugahyde surfaces, all ungracefully laid over a thinning carpet that was probably installed during Reagan's first term. Although there's a row of trophies lining one side of the room and a smattering of local sports memorabilia nailed to the walls, the decor feels a little cold and austere. Despite the hard lines and unforgiving surfaces, the room is actually bright and open, and in a way, it represents what I envision to be sort of a best-case scenario for the Alcatraz mess hall, only with much friendlier service and vastly superior chow.

A Groundout quintet that included Chad, Russ and the Commish joined me and Swen for a podcast here in late 2017, with all of us experiencing the pizza here for the first time. Its unassuming strip mall location in a neighborhood tucked just off the freeway exit mostly discouraged any lofty expectations, but each of us walked away really impressed with this tavern-cut dandy, giving it a unanimous thumbs-up. The meat/cheese blend over a firm thin crust was baked to perfection. Despite the high approval ratings, the first four in our group couldn't quite polish off two large sausage/pepperoni pizzas. Russ, like a jailyard loner, always chooses to dine alone with his own personal-sized pie (and one day he's gonna shanked for it), but even he left satisfied. So if your troubles and actions should ever land you at Scoreboard Pizza, this is definitely a joint that you won't feel the need to escape from. (9 of 10 stars)

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