Papa’s Pizza
July 27, 2009, 2:59 am
Filed under: Pizza Sundays, restaurants

D.Jones, Cooper and I were heading home from an exhausting day at a truck and tractor pull yesterday.  And yeah…you read that right.  It’s crazy the things we will do for our truck-obsessed boy!

Anyway, like I was saying, we were headed home from the uh, “fun”, when we remembered a pizza place that a good friend had recommended.  Pizza sounded fabulous, so we quickly took the proper exit off of 94 and headed toward Papa’s Pizza in Camden.

The place was easy to find, even though we are not at all familiar with north Minneapolis (and it helped that D.Jones was on the phone with an employee there, who kindly talked us through the directions).  Once we arrived, we wandered in a door that led us through a small deli with a few choices of gelatos, some imported cheeses and meats.  Then, through a small hallway where some statues of the Rat Pack pointed us in the direction of the dining room.  Now, we’ve been in some pretty dark and dingy family run Italian spots, between here and Wisconsin, but this dining room was light and bright, and even offered patio dining.  We opted to stay indoors after a long day in the sun, and ordered up a medium vegetarian ‘za for D.Jones and I, and a kid’s cheese pizza for Coops.


We watched the guys in the back tossing our freshly made crust and not too much longer, our pizza arrived looking absolutely delicious!  There is no grease to this pizza pie, and we tore right in!  The crust is sort of bready and is a great foundation for all of the super fresh toppings.  The sauce was more like fresh tomato sauce than a spicy pizza sauce, and was mild and good.  I added a few shakes of pepper flakes to mine because I like a little spice, but it was absolutely fine straight up.

I also sampled the kid’s cheese pizza, which allowed more of the flavor of the sauce to shine through and you could detect the oregano and spices more than on the vegetarian pizza.  Both were great.

Papa’s is located at 4159 Thomas Ave N. in Minneapolis, or you can check out their website here.

It’s a family-run place which is one of the things that makes us happy to give them our business.  Bonuses are that they have an excellent kid’s menu, as well as a beer & wine list for the bigger kids.  Oh, and they offer Surly beers! 

We’re planning on going back to check out their signature Tomato Pie straight outta Jersey~


Hotel Minneapolis – Martinis and Manicures

My friend Jenni called me a week or so ago and told me that there is a little soiree that happens at Hotel Minneapolis (215 4th Street) where you can sip a martini while getting a manicure.   Without a moment’s hesitation I responded “Oh, I am so in!  Sign us up!” 

Four of us decided to go and last night was our night.  It was fabulous.  For a mere $18 every 2nd Thursday of the month you can sip the martini of your choice, sample some lovely  hors d’oeuvres, and get a manicure from the ladies from Sanctuary!  Here are the details, and let me be the first to tell you, it is more than worth it! 


Now, the martinis are wonderful…but what martini isn’t, really?  The manicures are fantastic too, though of course, your color selections are quite limited.  One thing I liked, though, is that the colors they do use are vegan.  Who knew!?  I had no idea vegan fingernail polish existed!



The cocktail lounge area of Hotel Minneapolis is nestled right behind Restaurant Max, and along with your $18 you do get some nice “gifts” like a free appetizer over at Max if you are still hungry, and a ticket for a discounted dinner.   The lounge is absolutely beautiful and filled with beautiful people to match.  There is a large vault door to one side, which indicated the space perhaps used to be a bank?  Or, as my friend Alfred joked after scanning the room, “it’s where the unattractive people have to sit to wait for their manicure”. 

All I can tell you is that this is a relaxing, fun night out and if you are even considering it, you must go…I know I’ll be back!

Word to the wise, though…that area of Minneapolis is under major construction.  Rather than driving around in rush hour for 30 minutes like I did, know ahead of time that if you get to the front door of Restaurant Max, there is valet parking available.  Boy that would have saved me a major headache…and the horrible trauma of marching through rubble-covered construction zones in 4 inch heels.  Ugh.  A nightmare.  But worth it in the end….



A Night Out – Azia
April 3, 2009, 2:40 pm
Filed under: Beer, Wine & Cocktails, restaurants | Tags: , ,

A couple of years ago when I was still freelancing for a local magazine, I had the opportunity to meet restaurateur Thom Pham and interview him for my column.  At the time, his swanky restaurant Temple was still open and I entered heaven on earth as I sat at the bar and relished every bite of the fantastic tasting plates he brought out for me.

If I remember the article correctly, I made some correlations between the red decor of Temple and the surges of love that coursed through me as I savored every morsel of the food, also drinking in the divine atmosphere at the same time.

Last night I met friends at Pham’s hot spot Azia in the heart of Nicollet’s Eat Street.  I still love everything Pham.  Have you ever had their Cranberry Puffs?  Seriously.  I mean, you can hardly go wrong with any cream cheese puffs, right?  Not exactly a delicacy but boy, there’s something about those little bundles of deep-fried goodness, and Azia takes ’em to a whole ‘nuther level…believe me.

But, I’m not here to really write much about the food.  We enjoyed some appetizers at the table and they were great…as always.  What I’m here to say is that the happy hour at Azia is not to be missed and in true Pham fashion, the service is a notch above.

I remember that after I had written up Temple I received a hand-written thank you card from Mr. Pham himself.  Not something that would normally occur after reviewing a restaurant.  I thought to myself “now that’s class” and Azia’s waitstaff reflects the same.  They are friendly, on top of things, knowledgeable and attentive without hovering. 

The happy hour prices are killer so if you’re looking for a little time out with friends or a significant other…go!  We’re all trying to pinch a few pennies nowadays and the happy hour at Azia goes a long way to help.  With specials from 3-6 pm and 10-2 a.m., it’s not to be missed.  Offering half-price appetizers, half-priced specialty cocktails, half-priced sakes and bottles of wine (including a few sparkling wines), you can find just about anything you’d like to quench your thirst for just a few bucks.


I met three friends out last night and we started with a few specialty cocktails.  The Sake Cosmo is fabulous, by the way, and then moved on to a bottle of sparkling wine for the table.  The bottle was half-price at $18 and perfect for 4 to split…does it get any better than that?

After sitting in the main Azia bar, we moved over to the Caterpillar Lounge.  With a dj in the corner, some light incense burning, red candles and Buddha statues, it was the perfect place to unwind with a marvelous chocolat martini and just soak in the ambiance.


You just can’t go wrong at Azia, the Caterpillar Lounge and the Anemoni Sushi bar…there’s clearly something for everyone and if you go at the right time, you can even do it on the cheap.


Buster’s on 28th – Good for a Cold?
March 26, 2009, 3:48 pm
Filed under: restaurants

I don’t actually have any medical evidence to back up my claim, but it sure did make me feel better.  My findings:  With one out of one subject experiencing reduced congestion and improved feelings of overall well-being after consuming dinner and beer at Buster’s, I have reason to believe that Buster’s on 28th is good for a cold.

Buster’s on 28th is a standby for us because the booth backs are high (ie; perfect for an active 3 year old in tow), the noise level is just high enough to drown out any of said 3-year old’s whining and/or demanding of corn dogs.  Which brings me to another point…bribing him with Buster’s corndogs is usually enough to get him to quietly play with some matchbox cars in our booth while D.Jones and I can enjoy some semblence of a relaxing dinner out.  Perfect!

Last night we were happy to notice that the menu had been updated.  Well, sort of happy.  I was sad to see my favorite salad taken off the menu, but was simply tickled to see that they had added a Capreses Panini…which I promptly ordered.  Along with a Franziskaner Dunkel for good measure.

The panini was absolutely deelish and the Dunkel clearly didn’t disappoint. 

I love that the servers there are well-versed in all things beer, are always friendly as can be, and the food almost always arrives relatively promptly.  A must-have for diners with kids, right?

Anyway, the scrumptious and warming Caprese Panini with a nice cold beer were enough to have me leaving the restaurant not quite as annoyed by Cooper’s constant barrage of “why’s?” which is his new thing, and not quite as sniffly as when I entered.   So maybe it can be said that not only is Buster’s good for a cold, it can also be good for the psyche.