The Little Oven is in the discussion for the Twin Cities’ best pizza and their pies are buy-one-get-one-free on Fridays. Do I even need to go on?
The Basics: TheLittle Oven’s website looks like something I made on Geocities in high school. They’re on White Bear and Minnehaha in St. Paul, kitty-corner from the Cherry Pit bar. If shifty men in the shadows aren’t your thing, you might want to pick your goods up at lunchtime. They’re open early, but they don’t start with pizza until 11 a.m. It’s important to note they do not accept credit cards, but they do accept checks – you know, in case you still carry those.
The Little Oven has other food but I’ve never had it, nor have I ever eaten in, but I can speak to their service in that their front desk is under siege from bell to bell on Fridays and they’re always prompt and courteous. If they say 60 minutes, they mean 60 minutes – I’ve only waited extra minutes once, and the guy before me bought 24 pizzas.
Parking stinks. Deal with it.
On top of the box, they write “Biggest portions, smallest prices.” I dare you to find their match. Oh, wait, did I only mention their Friday deal? Well, bust out that Pizzazz, big shot – their pre-bake pizzas are BOGO all the time.
Whether you cook it or they do, the pizza is a modern marvel. The crust is right where you want it, firm but foldable, and the cheese is exactly the same way. It’s just browned, just a little. Taking a slice off the pie can be fiddly, but the cheese doesn’t encumber the bites.
WARNING! Their default cut is into squares. I request pie slices, and they accommodate this 99 percent of the time.
It’s easy to eat, and the toppings are for real. You can definitely find a mushroom on top of a Canadian bacon slice on these darlings. They don’t make them look hearty, they make them hearty. The sauce is tangy, but not overpowering. It holds its hand up to greet you but doesn’t wave like a lunatic.
And it’s greasy, which is the best! Oh, man, is it greasy! Show someone your hands after you’ve eaten a few slices and they’d think you ate Smashburger.
It’s difficult to make a downright bad pizza, but it’s equally so to make a perfect pizza if you’re not in New York or Chicago. In a Twin Cities full of pretenders, though, The Little Oven is the one who socks your imagination the hardest. I’ve told 100 people that The Little Oven has the Cities’ best pizza, and I haven’t had anybody argue against it. Not one person.
So why would you ever eat anyplace else? Because there are certain situations when …
1. You want to bring your own beer to a restaurant and eat a worthy challenger (Ronnally’s).
2. You want it right away and there’s a location in your backyard (Carbone’s, which is true almost anywhere because they have like 100 Twin Cities locations).
3. You’re in love with their sauce, but you get there and order the mastaccioli instead (Mama’s).
4. You’re drunk and craving a compadre pizza (Hudson Quik Trip).
Let me reiterate: They are BOGO on Friday. Not Tuesday, not Wednesday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Friday – you know, the day you would actually eat pizza. Want to be the hero at a party? Pick up The Little Oven. Want to thank a co-worker for helping you out? Pick up The Little Oven. Have a friend in town from barbarian lands and want to blow his Jesus H. Tap-dancing mind? Pick up The Little Oven. I’ve put it before vegans and slobs, fussers and vacuums, and every thumb has pointed up.
It’s to a point where The Little Oven is a built-in part of our Friday nights. Parties and lazy nights aren’t even up for debate. It’s not “Where are we eating?” It’s “Who’s grabbing Little Oven?”