Walk into Solos Pizza Cafe and it immediately hits you: Whoever is behind this place has their act together.
Well-decorated interior, eye-grabbing graphic banners, sharply-designed menus, and an easy ordering system that delivers freshly made, personal pizzas in under five minutes.
It’s gotta be a chain, right? Run by Madison Avenue types?
Nope, just three guys from Minnesota, who clearly know how to operate a business. Solos has just three locations: Maple Grove, Plymouth and Eagan. But boss Brian Banick and his partners have done things the professional way, right on down to a great-looking website.
But who cares, really. What matters is the food. Well, Solos nails that, too.
With a taut list of 12 pizzas, five pasta bowls and a few salads, Solos pleases everyone in the party. Nobody complains about pizza toppings when you each get your own.
And the pizzas are solid. The Big Tony, a classic “everything” pizza with sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, green pepper, onion, basil and oregano is a winner. Tangy red sauce complements the basil, especially, and the crust is nicely charred, chewy and satisfying. No grease here, and the toppings taste fresh and certainly not unhealthy. Banick pointed out that Solos even has a menu of under-500-calorie meals. A chewy, satisfying pizza for under 500 calories is quite a sweet spot.
Banick said the key to Solos was the dough and the oven, which through hundreds of trial-and-error tests were married perfectly to create a wood-fired look and taste in only a few minutes of oven time. It’s remarkable. And even more telling to this reporter was that the leftovers, eaten cold the next morning, were still delicious; even the crust was still chewy and flavorful, not soggy and clammy like most.
What also hits you are the prices. A small specialty pizza is $5.95 and a regular is $7.75, yet a small is certainly enough for most modest appetites, especially for lunch. Or for $7.75 get any small pizza or pasta bowl and add a salad, fruit or bread. The White Hen, with zippy white garlic sauce, chicken, onion, tomatoes, basil and oregano, would pair perfectly with a side of sweet fresh fruit, for instance, and could make a perfect every-other-day lunch.
Vegetarians have several options, and the airy space at Solos could run the gamut from a 4-year-old’s birthday party to a business lunch. The addition of beer and wine would be nice, but that’s a minor quibble. Overall, Banick and his partners Bruce Thomson and Korosh DelNawaz, have created a winner that every palate can enjoy. Even for breakfast the day after.