June 18, 2024


Food & Travel Enthusiast

The 5 best things our food writers ate in the Twin Cities area this week

Pappardelle with Mushroom Bolognese at All Saints

Less truly is more, as exemplified in this utterly irresistible exercise in restraint.

“It’s the most straightforward Bolognese recipe that I know,” said chef/co-owner Denny Leaf-Smith. “I enjoy the simplicity of it all.”

Same here. First comes the onions-carrots-celery trinity, then garlic (prepared confit-style), wine and San Marzano tomatoes are nurtured on the stove for about four hours. The final component is introduced at the last minute: meaty cremini mushrooms, roasted with thyme and rosemary, which give the sauce all the alluring depth of a classic Bolognese, minus the traditional beef, pork or veal.

After test-driving other pasta shapes, Leaf-Smith wisely selected long, wide ribbons, because their surface boasts a tremendous ability to grasp and retain every molecule of that rich, robust sauce. What a perfect combination. No wonder, a few months since the restaurant’s debut, that this dish ($17) has ascended to the upper echelons of the menu’s bestseller list.

A side note: After starting this weekly feature in August 2019, this installation is my final contribution. It has been a privilege, and a pleasure. Thanks. (Rick Nelson)

222 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-259-7507, allsaintsmpls.com. Open 5-10 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 5-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.

Bo La Lot at MT Noodles

You know a Vietnamese restaurant is serious about its wraps when it has a contraption devoted solely to them. At wrap-devotee MT Noodles, a hole-in-the-wall eatery wedged between a barbershop and an insurance agency in Brooklyn Park, that device is a semicircular well filled with warm water; it sits next to a sleeve of raw, translucent rice wraps that look like plastic vinyl table covers and are as big as tortillas. Swish a wrap in the well until it becomes cloudy and limp, flop it onto a plate, lay on your protein and vegetables, then roll it up like a burrito. Don’t forget to tuck in the sides.

There are several proteins to choose from. Get the Bo La Lot ($18.95): beef wrapped in betel leaf, then grilled, like a stubby dolma. The beef is smoky and moist, and served with the usual accoutrements (pickled daikon, mint, vermicelli). For variety, add Nem Nuong ($10.95), a type of pork sausage that has the buoyant consistency of Spam.

The wraps are delicious to eat on their own. Even better when you pair them with the intense dipping sauce, which is made with shrimp paste, fermented fruit and peanuts and fills the air with the kind of unbridled funk that makes your head spin. I can’t wait to return for more. (Jon Cheng)

8459 W. Broadway, Brooklyn Park, 763-315-3055, mtnoodles.com. Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Mon.-Tue., Thu.-Fri., 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sat.-Sun.

Piggy Pie at Pig Ate My Pizza

Fans of the Piggy Pie — we know you’re out there — the clock is ticking.

Pig Ate My Pizza announced last week that it is ending its run. At midnight on Jan. 1, it becomes Nouvelle Brewing by Travail. Although pizza may make an occasional appearance on the new menu, the beloved combinations the Travail crew has been making for almost a decade are no longer a guarantee.

Which is how I found myself at PAMP’s doorstep when my kid asked for pizza last weekend. I’ve enjoyed their pizzas before, but had never tried the signature Piggy Pie. Maybe it was the pork-tastic trifecta of sausage, pepperoni and “bacon emulsion” that had kept me at bay. But, as Travail’s many iterations have proved over the years, all that excess works. Especially on the thick, so-dark-it’s-almost-burnt brioche crust that stands up to the toppings, and the lively seasoning of fennel pollen, black pepper and fresh oregano. This isn’t an everyday kind of pie, but with only a couple weeks left in PAMP’s run, I might need at least one more before bidding it adieu. (Sharyn Jackson)

4124 W. Broadway, Robbinsdale, 763-537-7267, pigatemypizza.com. Open 3-9 p.m. Wed.-Fri., noon-9 p.m. Sat.-Sun.

Crawfish Po’boy at Mr. Paul’s Po’boys and Jams

This new sandwich shop is at the back of the swank new Nola-inspired supper club. Find it in an alleyway of Nolan Mains, facing Pajarito. The long, skinny sandwich shop opened so quietly on Tuesday that there were only a few other guests, mostly the chef’s extended family, inside. The slim menu offers a wide selection of po’boys, loaves of French bread all crusty on the outside, and plush on the inside crammed full of goodies.

On this first visit, the crawfish po’boy seemed like the obvious order ($14). The bread, from St. Paul’s Vietnamese French bakery Trung Nam, is appropriately giant. Inside, little nubs of sweet, briny meat have been tossed in a seasoned cornmeal crust and fried crisp. Lettuce shreds and tomato slices are also tucked inside, and it’s all dressed with a zippy mayo sauce. The first bite is a bit intimidating, and can only be approached by clutching the whole business with both hands and hanging on for dear life. But each bite after that is a beautiful balance of toothsome and lush textures with just a gentle Cajun kick. (Joy Summers)

3917 B Market St., Edina, 612-259-8614, mrpaulssupperclub.com. Open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tue.-Sun.

Sota Sweety at Salad Slayer

Mall food sure has come a long way. And we can thank Rosedale Center’s Potluck food hall, and its slate of locally owned tenants, for helping lead the way. Shoppers can have a cocktail and a lobster roll, soul food, burgers, ice cream, pizza or biscuits. And now, thanks to Joshua Hedquist and partner Peter Stampone, pasta and salad are on the menu, too.

The duo behind the Joey Meatballs mini-franchise recently opened their third outpost here, and launched Salad Slayer, another create-your-own venture, right next door. The concept is simple, but the salads are deliciously complex. My pick: the Sota Sweety ($11), which combines a healthy serving of spinach with dried cranberries, bacon, cinnamon-kissed sweet potatoes and goat cheese, all tossed with a light vinaigrette and hemp seeds. It had all the tastes of a holiday meal, but without the heavy feeling afterward.

All salads are customizable — I opted for no bacon but added Brussels sprouts — and if by chance you don’t like any of Salad Slayer’s eight recipes, you can toss your own. Then, pat yourself on the back for making the nutritious choice, and head next door to grab a Betty & Earl’s biscuit. You’ve earned it. (Nicole Hvidsten)

1595 Hwy. 36, Roseville, potluckmn.com. Open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun.