Mall of America, Third Floor, Boom, Pizza Studio

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I don’t hate the Mall of America like I used to.

Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t just up and go for no reason, but the primal antagonism has calmed into more of a cautious truce. I’ll go if Barry Bostwick is there, or if cool socks are to be had, and I’ll make sure it’s mid-week during slow seasons. I’ll photograph the parking lot section and the door I came in through. I’ll try reading the floor maps.

You’ve got to admit, the people-watching is world class and the Mall of America does wonders for your step count.

Then there’s the pizza.

Imagine: You walk into a shop, and you’re out with your merchandise in less than five minutes. It’s top-notch, and you get everything you desire with no crazy up-charge.

You can find such a shop on the third floor of the “mega mall.” Just look for the Pizza Studio sign.

The Basics: They’ve locations all over the U.S., but the MOA spot is Minnesota’s only. It’s between between Noodles and Bruegger’s on Level Three. Their website.

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It’s in a small but well-laid-out space. You walk up to the entrance, boom, there’s the menu on the window. Look at it, walk in, boom, start ordering right there. Walk straight back while they make your pizza, boom, cash register. Step right back, boom, chairs. Two minutes later, boom, get your pizza, sit your ass down and start eating.

How was service that night? Well, the man taking my order was also the man preparing it. It was 8 p.m., and he hadn’t hung himself yet. That’s the kind of perseverance you could never properly rate on a survey.

Oh, I forgot to mention: You can make your own pizza, for a flat $9, and toppings are unlimited. Anything you want. Go ahead.

I dialed up the firecracker crust and topped it with sweet chicken sausage, grilled chicken, bacon, feta and mozz cheeses, red peppers, tomatoes, buffalo sauce, and banana peppers. I had it lightly salted before it was cooked.

The crust was more fiery than cracker-like, teaming up with the sauce to produce a formidable kick. The toppings didn’t look soggy or sad. Next time I do this, I’ll pass on the salt; otherwise, this heat-and-meat combo could have bailed me out of any shopping trip. Luckily, I was just here for socks.

Four slices was the magical amount, which of course precipitated the question: Do I eat the last two or schlep them all the way out to “Georgia”?

Well,” I decided, “This is really only three or four bites.” This logic is probably why I’ll be dead before 50.

My last bite was too big for my mouth. I chewed with my lips slightly apart while a man stood outside the restaurant, burped his baby, and watched me.

Did I mention the people-watching?

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STILL GOT TIME? Pieology Pizza does something like this, and here’s a 22-inch pizza you can get in Excelsior.