The Lake Minnetonka area is teeming with great restaurants. They spring from the earth like hundreds of multicolored wildflowers—and the bustling atmosphere of the lake area provides the fertile ground for tasty success. Among these delicious Lake Minnetonka haunts is a wide variety of pizza places, and as the temperature drops and we begin to hunker down for another famous Minnesota winter, it’s the perfect opportunity to get together and enjoy this classic comfort food—cheese dangling from every well-deserved bite. From the wackiest topping combinations to the longest tenure, Lake Minnetonka Magazine rounded up a list of some of the best pie joints in town.
Walking through the door of Station Pizzeria in Minnetonka is a feast for the eyes. The walls are lined with dark wood—reminiscent of a cozy cabin by the lake—and the space is bright and inviting. Two functioning garage doors highlight the building’s past as a gas station—and the restaurant also pays homage with its name. The garage doors stay open in the summer time and fill the restaurant with light year-round. On many a night, the cozy leather booths and tables come alive to the sound of live music, and the large framed photo of the late music great Prince that hangs above the tables says all you need to know: These people have awesome taste in music.
The other, most important feast at Station? The made-from-scratch pizzas. “Our cheese comes from Wisconsin and has just three ingredients,” says owner-operator Jake Schaffer. “It is the best mozzarella cheese you can buy.” No fillers can be found here in the roughly 1,000 pizzas Station conjures up for satisfied customers every week. The team at Station also smokes all of their meats in house, and the feats of this labor are evident in many items on the menu. “The Smokey is a pulled pork sandwich on a pizza,” says Schaffer. House smoked pork mingles with spicy jalapeños, red onion and pickles, and then this masterpiece is topped lightly with cheese and a healthy dose of barbecue sauce (small $15.99, large $24.99). Spice fanatics will feel right at home at Station, with specialty pizzas airing on the side of spicy. “We do have a pretty focused menu,” says Schaffer. “We try to specialize in pizza.”
13008 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.426.3273
“Almost everybody who comes in here we know by name,” Scott Homan, owner of Maggie’s Restaurant, says. “Usually we know what they’re gonna order.” No, the staff at Maggie’s isn’t made up of fortune tellers, this inside knowledge stems from deep roots in the community. “We’ve been locally owned and operated since 1979,” says Homan, who took over as owner of the family restaurant when his father retired. “We’re a pretty busy little restaurant,” Homan says, adding that many of the community members who walk through the door are regulars. “Repeat customers are what we live off of.”
So what keeps these regulars coming back? The team at Maggie’s has been making pizza from scratch for over four decades, and they haven’t changed a thing. Maggie’s has the vibe of a cozy, roadside diner, with intimate booths and tables. Although pizza isn’t the only item on the menu, Maggie’s has a wide variety of pizza options. Guests also have the options to build their own pizzas from a collection of toppings. The most interesting option? Sauerkraut.
844 Lake St. E., Wayzata; 952.476.0840
Olive’s Fresh Pizza Bar
Walk into Olive’s Fresh Pizza Bar on a typical night, and you’ll see a bustling atmosphere filled with the rich aroma of wood fired pizza. “You’ll see a wide range of ages and people,” says co-owner Duff Smith who owns the Excelsior staple along with John Marshall and Jake Hopkins. From older couples enjoying a happy hour to high schoolers grabbing a bite to eat after a long day of learning, Olive’s is a place where people come together.
Olive’s outputs anywhere from 600–1,000 pizzas every week, with interesting toping options galore. Possibly the most interesting on the menu is the Alaskan pizza—a colorful collection of pink salmon and bright yellow lemon. This creative feat starts with a cream cheese lemon base and then adds smoked salmon, capers, sweet onion, cheese and then finishes with fresh slices of lemon (regular $24, personal $12, gluten free personal, $14.50). “We kind of have fun with it,” Smith says about creating interesting topping combos for the menu.
Olive’s also has a lively menu of beer and wine options. “We don’t carry a lot of brand name beer,” Smith says. But they do carry three local Excelsior beers, perfect for a restaurant so close to the water. “When you start walking down Water Street,” Smith says, “we’re one of the first restaurants going toward the lake.”
287 Water St. #100, Excelsior; 952.474.4440
At the heart of Spasso stands a large mosaic pizza oven. The oven is decorated with bright blue flowers and the restaurant’s name stands out in bold red letters across the front. Inside is a roaring fire, and from this fire 400 delectable pizzas spring to life every week. The oven is a story all its own, and assistant general manager Amanda Irrgang says it took two months to transport the oven by ship from Italy.
The motto at Spasso is “Come as you are,” Irrgang says, “It is warm and inviting, casual and fun.” Part of this fun is watching the pizza chefs work their magic from the pizza counter—an activity Irrgang recommends for families visiting with kids. The most ordered pizza is the Muffuletta—a delicious mix of Genoa salami, Italian sausage, marinated olives, mozzarella cheese and Spasso’s homemade pizza sauce. But if you’re feeling bold, Irrgang says anchovies are probably the most interesting topping choice.
17523 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.224.9555
High ceilings, large stone arches and dark wood accents make a trip to Bacio in Minnetonka feel like a mini vacation to Italy. Light spills in to the space from skylight ceilings and the walls framing the comfortable booths and tables are filled with colorful art. “Bacio is a warm, inviting space,” says Nicole Keeler. “From the moment you enter our restaurant you smell the aroma of our wood burning oven.”
The oven burns at 500 degrees and produces some “incredible creations,” says Keeler. The menu of specialty pizzas changes along with the seasons, but a popular favorite from the past was the porchetta flatbread: “A mustard cream sauce, three cheeses, thinly sliced porchetta, fresh jalapeños and a house-made jalapeño pepper jelly,” Keeler says. The pizzas at Bacio pack a delicious punch with quality local ingredients including king oyster, oyster and portobello mushrooms from Mississippi Mushrooms in downtown Minneapolis.
1571 Plymouth Road, Minnetonka; 952.544.7000