That Pizzaƒ?TMs Got Punch

By Deborah Heller

Located a short drive from the Macalester campus in a rather depressing looking strip mall, Punch Neapolitan Pizza is arguably home to the most well-regarded pies in town. However, since Punch serves Neapolitan style pizza they cannot really be considered “pies.” Perhaps discs is a better description. The Verace Pizza Neapoletana lays out official guidelines for Neapolitan pizzas in terms of the oven, ingredients and technique involved in preparation. To the average pizza fan this translates as thin pizzas with a bit less cheese than average and authentically Italian toppings (no pineapple in sight). While I didn’t think Punch lived up to the certified Neapolitan style pizzas I’ve had before, it was pretty goodOur table had some trouble deciding what to order, but since we arrived on a Saturday night we had plenty of time to peruse the menu as we waited for our table. Punch does not accept reservations and is much too small for a place of its renown. The menu includes a few antipasti options like a misto platter (meat, cheese, olives and roasted vegetables), foccacia, calzones and some salads. Pizza, though, is the main attraction.

Divided into two sections, there are a multitude of tomato-sauce based options and a smaller selection of olive oil (bianco) choices. The pizzas can be considered personal size, with a few slices left for tomorrow’s breakfast. We ordered the Mimi, a Bianca piled with chopped cherry tomatoes, mozzarella chunks and not enough sprigs of basil. Though tasty, it proved difficult to eat as the toppings kept falling onto the table. The Puttanesca would thrill fans of salty flavors as it consists of a blend of anchovies, capers and olives. The Borgata is the best choice for those who want a simply vegetarian pizza with its assortment of eggplant, red peppers, olives, goat cheese and spinach.

We also ordered a chopped salad, which felt fairly inauthentic with its use of chickpeas instead of white beans over a bed of greens and cut carrots with assorted meats and cheeses. The salad was accompanied by rosemary and sea salt foccacia, much too heavy on the sea salt. After all our food we were too full for dessert but admired the attractive glasses of tiramisu being served at the table next to us.

With prices hovering around $12 a pizza, Punch is a fairly good deal for those willing to trek a bit off the Macalester campus to seek out new flavors and enjoy a delightfully well-heated dining option.