This past week The Wife and I were in the mood for some local pizza so we decided to head over to Carbone’s Pizzeria on Randolph Avenue in St. Paul. This is part of a local chain of pizza places all operating under the same name and from the looks of it we were heading into the original. To be fair, I have been to this restaurant once before in the past and from looking at other reviews it seems to be a staple.
After walking through the front doors, you definitely notice that they remodeled the outside of the building the same time they redid the inside, which from my best guess was in the early 80′s to late 70′s. Walking in you walk past their semi-exposed kitchen
which seems like it is better set up for making sub sandwiches than pizza, but I didn’t lurk there to long realizing that we were to seat ourselves we headed back to find a booth in the small wood paneled eating area. It has a setup to be expected with booths around the outside and tables (closely packed) in the middle.
After sitting down the waitress came over to our table and help us quite quickly (which is understandable for such a small place). The menus are located at the tables and we placed our order for our traditional waters to buy us some time to figure out what we wanted. The menu consists of basically 2 pages with one page being taken up by pizza options and the other consisting of 2 appetizers and a few different not pizza options. I didn’t really pay attention to the non-pizza options because HEY! I am at a pizza place.
They had roughly 10 items that you could have as toppings, sticking mainly to traditional items that you would expect to find including anchovies. They do make it fairly difficult to order a pizza with more than one or two toppings due to the cost of a pizza exploding quickly if you add to many to the basic priced cheese pizza. I can’t recall what the pizzas were priced exactly but seemed to be roughly $7 for a small and $11 for a large (extra for any toppings!). For being a small place, in a neighborhood I understand them having a smaller menu especially if they live up to my expectations of a good pizza.
After being forgotten for roughly 10 minutes after placing our order for waters, we successfully put an order in for their something-something special of a small pizza with two toppings (pineapple and Canadian bacon in our case) and an appetizer (Ours was meatballs and garlic bread) for $11. After placing our order, in another 5 minutes we had a our 3 good sized meatballs in pizza sauce and mini-garlic bread loaf. It was appropriately sized for two people and tasted pretty good. After we finished with the appetizer we immediately received a piping hot pizza sitting on a sheet of paper on a tray that appeared to also be original from the grand opening decades ago with broken/chewed on sides and a faint green color. The pizza seemed like many other small town pizzas that I have had around the state of Minnesota consisting of lots of cheese on a thin crust and a regular amount of toppings…… all cut into nice little squares. I am not sure why places insist on cutting it into little square except that the crust couldn’t support a slice. Either way the pizza ended up tasting all right and wasn’t greasy even though it seemed to have a good amount of cheese on it.
If you grew up as a kid in St. Paul, you might like that this place still looks the same as it did 20, 30, maybe even 40 or more years ago, but originating from out of town it takes away some of the appeal of even entering a place like this to me.
The food seemed fine and we made it in and out in a reasonable amount of time, but I don’t think I would drive more than a long walk to go here again. Not being a St. Paul native or not having the commitment someone would living in Highland Park I will find myself looking for another place that can break out of the average category.
If you are in Highland Park Area or any of their 2 other restaurants (in Minneapolis or Blaine) I would definitely stop in and give them a try. I could probably get myself into trouble eating at Which Wich if their location wasn’t so out of the way to my daily life, but it significantly decreases the odds I will eat anywhere else when I venture to Highland Park.