By: Katie Fraser
Disclosure: Katie is an affiliate of Eat.Drink.Dish.Mpls, who was paid to promote Black Sheep Pizza with the Exclusive Foodie Dinner event.
Hand-tossed, deep dish, thin, wood-fired, personal – when it comes to pizza the options are endless, and one Twin Cities’ staple is hoping you’ll add one more option to the list: coal-fired.
Black Sheep Pizza opened in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood in late 2008, when the area was still transforming from the Warehouse District into its current trendy state.
Owner and chef Jordan Smith wanted to bring what he considered “traditional American” pizza to Minnesota by opening Minneapolis’ first coal-fired pizza restaurant. According to Black Sheep, coal was the main source of heat used to warm ovens, and thus make pizza, in the early part of our country’s history.
The pizzeria was immediately popular, and in 2012 was voted the best pizza in the state by Food Network.
Black Sheep quickly expanded with a second location in St. Paul, just outside of the then up-and-coming Lowertown neighborhood, in early 2011. Then, in 2014, a third restaurant was opened in the old Azia location along Eat Street.
But, as locations and menu items were added, Smith, and his co-owner Colleen Doran, stayed true to their mission – bringing pizza back to it’s coal-fired roots.
On Tuesday, several Twin Cities foodies were given a taste, and a bit of a history lesson, with an Exclusive Foodie Dinner.
In Black Sheep Pizza’s North Loop party room, kitchen manager Alex served diners four courses and endless facts.
To begin, diners were served a Sparkling Margarita, paired with a trio of salads: traditional chopped salad, seasonal asparagus and potato, and Moroccan.
The light cocktail was a bit overwhelmed by the flavors of the salad, but provided a good break in between each bite.
The chopped was tart and lemony, with bold, spicy Italian sausage bites mixed in, while the Moroccan was full of spice, muted with creamy goat cheese and crunchy chick peas. But the star of the salads was the seasonal asparagus and potato salad. Large stalks of crunch asparagus paired with tart arugula, smooth roasted potatoes and creamy green goddess dressing. Rich, filling and light, it was the perfect early fall dish.
Following the salads, diners were given a taste of Black Sheep’s signature kabobs.
The dish included grilled shrimp, steak, onions, tomatoes and red, orange and green bell peppers. This came paired with the spicy Segundo's Siesta, a tequila-based cocktail made with a hint of chile pepper. A fun experiment, but beware if you don’t like heat!
Finally, diners dove into Black Sheep’s pizza.
Guests were given a trio of pizzas: the No. 4, No. 5 and No. 9.
The No. 4 , the favorite of the night, was topped with juicy meatballs, fluffy ricotta and large garlic slices.
The No. 5, the restaurant’s most popular, was the fennel sausage, hot salami, onion and cracked green olive pizza.
And, last but not least, the No. 9 was a vegetarian, topped with fresh tomatoes, crunchy green peppers and bold Kalamata olives.
As Alex explained, each handmade pie was cooked for 2- 3 minutes in the coal oven, heated to 550 degrees, giving it a crispy outside and soft inside.
The meal ended with a homemade ice cream sandwich, made with creamy vanilla ice cream and chocolate chip cookies from the Cookie Cart.
A simple dish elevated by fresh ingredients and detailed preparation, something Black Sheep brings to all it offers.
Black Sheep Pizza is located at 600 N Washington Street. It has two other locations in St. Paul and along Eat Street. Call 612-342-2625, or visit Black Sheep Pizza online for more information.