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Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza: MSP

Does anyone know whether it is open yet? If so, has anyone been? Drove by yesterday and was surprised and intrigued to see it. Looks like it may be open? FYI, it is on Washington approx. two blocks east of Bewitched. Looked on the net and there is a small snippet it the Pioneer Press for anyone who is interested: http://www.twincities.com/ci_10608365

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  1. Last time I was by, it wasn't open. I'm very intrigued.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MSPD

      They're doing invite-only seatings tomorrow and Friday, a private Grand Opening on Saturday, and are opening to the public on Monday October 20th, according to an email I got today.

    2. I wonder if they use "clean coal" technology...

      1. Black Sheep is open now. I went to eat there last night with my wife. I'll say that it was good. We ordered a half flight of house wine - $10. We ordered two pizzas-
        1) Fennel sausage with salami. $12 or so. Great sausage and salami, needed more cheese.
        2) Oyster mushroom with gorgonzola and Rosemary. Very delicious. The pizza tasted like fall- hearty, smokey, and whatever that yummy rosemary flavor is.

        I've never had coal fired pizza, and frankly could not differentiate between it and the california pizza kitchen stove. The pizza was good though. The ingrediets were fresh, and the crust was crispy.

        Compared to Pizza Nea (may favorite local pie) and Punch (a very good pie for a tasty price), I'd rate this as third best of the three. The pizza simply did not differentiate itself in terms of ingredients. That doesn't mean it is bad though. This is my neighborhood, and I'm thrilled to have good quality pizzas next door, and I am sure to be regular customer in the time to come.

        2 Replies
        1. re: joyceann

          I am curious about their menu. I know they just opened up and it does not seem that they have a website yet. I am wondering if it is a set menu or if you can "customize" your own toppings. I have been searching for a NY favorite- broccoli pizza with ricotta. I know it's not gourmet but I miss it so much...............

          1. re: KyleThomas

            I've been to Pizza Nea, and I didn't think it was that great. For the area, it might be good Neapolitan-style pizza, but for good Neapolitan-style pizza, it was average. The crust was a bit hard and tough (it cut the rough of my mouth!).

            What's the crust of Black Sheep like? You say crispy, but does it have good chew? Or is it just crispy?

          2. Coal-fired pizza? Weird! Having ridden a restored steam train, I find the idea of coal grit in my pizza a bit off-putting. Plus, burning coal is quite stinky (and smoggy). So I assume that the pizza is isolated from the burning coal - in which case, what's the point?

            I'm so confused.


            2 Replies
            1. re: AnneInMpls

              Have not yet been but here is a report from The Rake that sheds a tiny bit of light on the coal question.

              1. re: AnneInMpls

                Some of the reputedly nation's best pizza in New Haven, CT and New York City come from coal fired ovens. I personally prefer wood fired ovens but would give coal fired a chance. The owner's claim their anthracite coal fired is cleaner (than wood?).

              2. Black Sheep opened on Monday, 10/20. To answer the question about the crust, it is crispy on the outside but chewy in the center. It reminded me of naan done in a real tandoori oven. You can customize your toppings or go with one of their combos but for the person looking for broccoli you won't find it here. We have eaten there twice and it was excellent both times, a great addition to the neighborhood.

                1. Ate here last night with SO. Location was easy to find and we had no problem finding parking-free meters after 6. There was about 6 or so couples when we arrived around 6:00. We both enjoyed the more modern decor and the open kitchen. I like to be able to see what is going on back there- hehehe. When we went in there was a guy tossing dough in the air which was a nice touch. We split a house salad ($6) which was nice and we both enjoyed the house made dressing. We decided to share a 16" pizza and went with a standard cheese ($13) plus added roasted peppers ($2). I really wanted the oyster mushroom, smoked mozzeralla and rosemary BUT my SO really wanted the fennel sausage, hot salami, onion and green olive so we compromised. There was a mishap with our order (delived to another table) but it was resolved quickly and we did receive a yummy ice cream sandwhich on the house. The pizza was thin and crispy and I enjoyed the crust very much. It also had "bubbles" in the crust which I love. This pizza has come closest to a NY style for all of you guys that have been looking. I am a cheese lover and next will ask for extra cheese because I did find the cheese ratio a little low. Finally a pizza I could fold in half and eat!!!! I am so tired of ordering LIMP slices that you can not pick up and eat. I did notice that everyother table was using a knife and fork to eat pizza. Is that a MN thing or what because I have never seen anyone in NY do that. Maybe if it was a deepdish but we aren't too keen on those.........

                  I would like to add that a friend and I went to CPK last week and wow has that place went down hill. My $13 four cheese thin and crispy pizza was a glorified Elio's pizza. It was soggy and awful. My friend ordered a $10 half salad that was so tiny it was a joke.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: phimoez

                    Knife-and-fork pizza eating is very unusual here in MN. I've only ever seen visiting Europeans do it.

                    What's "CPK"?


                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      CPK = California Pizza Kitchen--it's a national chain.


                  2. Finally made it to B.S.C.F.P. Will definitely be back. As stated in other posts the crust was thinish, crisp and chewy. Not like C.P.K., which I consider closer to matzoh pizza. Not Neapolitan like Punch or Nea, both of which I enjoy. This was the closest to east coast pizza that I have had outside of the east coast, (specifically the Tri-State area.) Had a 1/2 liter of the house red and a large fennel sausage and white mushroom pizza.

                    The pizza was made with the cheese on the bottom with sauce on top and slices of sausage and mushrooms and fresh oregano (I think it was fresh) placed liberally on top of that. Cheese on the bottom keeps the pie from getting soggy and it was also placed a---ll the way to the edges so that the edge had a nicely browned cheesy crust on it. There was just the right ratio of cheese, sauce, sausage and mushroom and it all came together into a harmonious whole. Not too greasy, enough cheese to make strings, could actually taste the mushrooms and the sausage had a good fennel-spicey bite to it. Wish it had been a little more garlicky but that is just me. Maybe next time I'll get a plain pie with extra oregano and garlic... Mmmm... Now if they only had eggplant as one of their toppings...

                    Will definitely be going back to try the oyster mushroom, smoked mozz and rosemary pie. Don't know why the Twin Cities are so lucky with pizza places. It's great to have another different and delicious place to go for pizza. Although choosing will be hard. Guess I'll just have to eat pizza more often now.

                    1. Wifey and I went with another couple tonight. They don't take reservations (pet peeve), and we waited 30 minutes in the stairwell with a carafe of house wine. Reminded me of college, but the wine was priced to match, and tasted delightfully awful.

                      The ambience is, well, hot and humid. Does the A/C kick in during the summer? I certainly hope so.

                      The place seems to be all about pizza, so we stuck with that, starting only with an order of bread. The bread was tasty, and I respected the bold choice to serve it unadorned.

                      The pizza itself was a mixed bag. The naan comparison is spot on, w/r/t crust. We each ordered individual pizzas, which, btw, it's worth noting that there is no cost savings in going large (I did the math... Don't worry about it).

                      Naturally, I ordered the best pizza. The fennel sausage, spicy salami, onion and somehow-special green olives ensemble had an electric feel to it. Great toppings that worked well together, worthy of the knife and fork treatment. The sausage alone was worth the price of admission.

                      Wife had the chicken and garlic pizza. Not sure I've had dark meat chicken on a pizza before, and I thought it was a standout choice. Most chicken toppings are dry and crusty. Not the case here, though I might have added another topping to punch it up a bit.

                      Friends ordered the cheese pizza (pregnancy) and oyster mushroom - Mozz. - Rosemary deal. The latter didn't work. The pizza is positively infected with mushrooms. They comprise their own layer on the thing, which is entirely overwhelming. I appreciate generous portions of specialty items, but oyster mushrooms aren't all that special.

                      Best pizza in Minneapolis? No. But $60 for a unique dinner for four is nothing to sneeze at.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kevin47

                        Great writeup kevin...thanks.

                        I had the oyster mushroom, etc. pizza and it wasn't like that at all. I actually thought it was a little light on the mushrooms. Interesting. That said, I had it not too long after they opened, so maybe they've swung the pendulum on the recipe.

                        I really like the pizzas, ingredients and the people are abundantly pleasant. It's the same feeling price-wise as Punch, etc....fresh, quality ingredients for a good value. I think you hit it right on that it's not mind-blowing or the "best pizza". I'll keep on swinging by when I'm in the area.

                      2. Want to step up to the plate for our fav pizza place. Since opening, we've had their pizza maybe half doz times. About a month ago, I took an out of town visitor on an extremely busy night to pick up a take out, and after waiting a while, talked to the cash register lady and we all realized a mistake had somehow been made and our's wasn't ready. They immediately prioritized our order AND gave me and my friend each a Surly's on the house! Well, that made for a very easy wait for the order. Of course, ultimately the pizza was excellent. Wife and I have been to Pepe's in New Haven, CT - considered I think to be one of gold standards there and we give the nod to Black Sheep.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: mplsbruin

                          Black Sheep has surpassed Punch as the favorite pizza in our house. (The Tomato Pie at Papa's in N. Minneapolis would be 3rd - all 3 fit very different needs.)

                          TCL loves Black Sheep because she's been known to pick the cheese off of her pizza. Being able to get a pizza without cheese, but with some vegetables on top is all you need to win her over.

                          What I love about black sheep are the quality of the toppings. The Salami, Pepperoni, etc are OUTSTANDING, especially when they get the edges just slightly charred. Order a "Pepperoni Pizza" at Black Sheep, and the bar for such a simple thing will be raised forever.

                          If we had one complaint, it would be that they have a hard time getting the cheeseless pizza right.

                          The first time TCL ordered it, the owner saw what it looked like when it came out of the oven, called the cooks over, and had them start a new one. (He then brought it to our table with an apology. He pointed out a small spot that was charred due to not enough sauce, and told us we could have this one and eat around that area if we'd like, but there was a fresh pizza on the way.) The pizza that followed was PERFECT (and closely inspected before arriving at our table).

                          On another occasion, the same order came out quite dry - as if not enough sauce was on it, or it had been overcooked. Upon pointing it out to the waitress, she asked, "Have you had this pizza before? Without cheese it would be dry." TCL explained, "I"ve had it many times before, and this is not how it should be." Once that debate was settled, a new, much better pizza was produced. (It should be noted that while the owners are almost always around, they were not on this night.)

                          Oh, and on a completely unrelated note, try the Calzone! One of the few in this town served stuffed (and in this case it would be STUFFED) with Ricotta cheese! (The other that I know if is Green Mill, of all places!) The thing is HUGE, big enough for 2, maybe 3. But really, really, really, really good.

                          1. re: Danny

                            I would give them points just for being willing to do a cheeseless pizza, and even more
                            points for trying to make it actually taste good! Thanks for the review Danny.

                                1. re: djohnson22

                                  HAHAHA! I don't know why, but this cracks me up.

                                  The Chowish Lurker was in attendence at our first Midtown Global Market chowdown... http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3185... and had plenty of insight to share http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3185...


                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    I remember TCL well from that historic chowdown. Perhaps TDQ and TCL have some common alphabetical heritage. Thanks Danny for the detailed and funny review. I guess after all my grousing about burned/charred Punch pizzas I will have to check out Black Sheep since they seem to care about not doing that . And here's something funny- I just found out calzone also means underpants in Spanish....thanks to the ArtaWhirl..

                                2. re: jfood

                                  I'm TCL. Married to "Danny" and eat with him a lot, but he does the posting.

                            1. Jfood enjoyed a pizza this evening at Black Sheep. He arrived at 700 as a single and was told it would be a couple of minutes until a seat opened at the bar. A couple left a table before the bar and the owner asked jfood if he wanted to wait for a bar seat or take the table. He then suiggested jfood take the table as on two people had received their pizza at the bar.

                              Jfood ordered a root beer while he looked through the menue. He decided on a two sided pizza. side 1 was sausage and roasted red pepper and the other side canadian bacon and tomato.

                              The pizza arrived and the toppings were spread perfectly around the pie. No skimping at all. Nice big chunks of sausage, red peppers spread nicely, the cnadian bacon was laid carefully on the other side with cheery tomatoes sliced in half on top of the bacon.

                              The crust was cooked perfectly, a couple of bubbles that were charred on the edge; the bottom had a nice char as well. Looked like the oven was blistering hot. Jfood read a few pages from his book while it cooled.

                              jfood grabbed his plate and slid a sausage slice onto the plate. Jfoods first bite brought a smile to his face. fantastic. the crust had a nice chew-crunch, the sausage was very good and the peppers added a nice flavor. The sauce was simple and the cheese was not too heavy but did add a nice "string" when jfood pulled the bite away. The canadian bacon and tomato side was also very good.

                              This was a very good replica of a New Haven type pizza and jfood would recommend this place.

                              BTW - jfood had a quick chat with the owner on the way out. Realy nice guy. This is a place worth bringing your hard earned money to.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jfood

                                So jfood, were you at Black Sheep, Levain and Pumphouse all tonight? Since you brought up pizza and I was apparently stalking you , I ended up at Biga Pizza after Pumphouse, still hungry, they were closing and a woman who worked there offered me her leftover pizza! What a gift! I guess I was eyeing it hungrily. So I got to see what their pizza is like cold, a true test of good pizza. It was quite good, really nice buttery flavor to the cheese on top, bits of basil and a good tomato sauce (Margarita pizza), very nice crust, thin and chewy.

                              2. Our pizza club finally visited Black Sheep this week. After reading all of the posts here, I felt well prepared. Our group was small so we only order two pizzas, the Sausage/Salami/Onion/Green Olive pie and the Meatball/Ricotta/Garlic pie. Both were good and worth eating, although we all like the Meatball/Garlic pizza better. To be honest, I couldn't differentiate much between the meatballs on the one pizza and the sausage on the other. They tasted about the same. I've never had a coal-fired pizza before and don't really know much beyond the few things I've read on the interweb. The crust was good and strong enough to support any amount of toppings they could have thrown on top. The service was great and the Surly flowed.

                                Overall we like Black Sheep and will return. I classify pizza in only two categories, fancy or blue collar. Black Sheep falls into the fancy pizza category and is very good. I'll recommend it if you're looking for something fancy. I won't recommend it if you're a greasy, pepperoni and sausage type of pizza eater.


                                2 Replies
                                1. re: GutGrease

                                  GutGrease, pizza club you say, it would be great if you posted some of your clubs recs or faves, thanks. Have you been to Scoreboard pizza in Brooklyn Center, its a very blue collar hole in the wall with great pizza.

                                  1. re: cookkevin

                                    It's just a social pizza club....not too serious about evaluating. We like all of the standards so I don't think that I'd be offering anything new to the boards.

                                2. As long as this thread got bumped, I'll add that Black Sheep is now serving lunch.

                                  Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza
                                  600 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                                  1. I tried this for the 1st time this weekend. I had the large Tomato pie. Yes, it's a bit on the expensive side--my pizza was $17. It was okay---nothing spectacular. The crust was a bit on the chewy side. Next time, I'll try something with meat on it. I think whoever classified it as "gourmet pizza" above, was right.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: alpa chino

                                      i totally agree with the fancy gourmet pizzas here, they are wonderful, but if you love artery stopping pizza, look elsewhere, this stuff is good though

                                    2. I made a return visit to Black Sheep last night and I'm glad I did. I arrived a little after 8pm to find the place ~1/2 full. I took one of the open seats at the bar and ordered an Odell's 90 Shilling (Red Ale) to start the night. If you haven't had it yet, this stuff is outstanding.

                                      Anyways as I perused the menu, I noticed a calzone listed under the pizzas. I must have missed this in my previous trip, but I wasn't going to miss it again. The calzone comes with mozz and ricotta plus anything you want to add. I went simple with the fennel sausage and awaited my fate. A few minutes later, I notice the monster being put into the oven and I'm told that the calzone is essentially a large pizza folded in half. No worries, I can eat the rest tomorrow.

                                      The calzone arrived cut into 8 pieces and served with a generous amount of marinara for dipping. The first bite was outstanding. Great crust, great sausage, two great cheeses. If ricotta is your thing, give the calzone a try. It was overflowing with ricotta. The first thing I noticed was the little bit of salt sprinkled on the crust. I thought this was a nice little addition.

                                      I ate about half my calzone and had the rest boxed. As I finished my beer, the owner asked if I'd like another. I said thanks but I was good. He said how about one on the house and put another one in front of me. Nice touch that I certainly appreciated.

                                      As I talked with him about the (always great) beer selection, I asked if they were getting in the new Summit Unchained. He said they would and that he already had a few sample bottles. Being the great guy he is, he cracked one open and shared it with me (and a couple sitting next to me at the bar). I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to seeing it at my favorite store/pub.

                                      Side note: He also mentioned that they would be getting Surly Hell this weekend, which means I'll probably be going back this weekend.

                                      I'm happy I finally made it back and I think this will become a weekly (or close to it) stop for me.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: BigE

                                        I also went to Black Sheep last night, but a first time trip for me. I went with my in-laws and husband. Husband was pleased to see Fulton on tap. We ordered the meatball, ricotta and garlic and the tomato, green pepper and kalamata olive pizzas. Overall, we all really enjoyed the pizza. Great thin crispy crust and nice fresh ingredients. All of the staff were exceptionally nice; even the employee mopping the floor by the bathroom! We will definitely go back, as this is a spot I want to support.

                                      2. Joy oh joy! Black Sheep Pizza is now open in St. Paul, next door to Key's on Robert Street.

                                        Went there last Friday at 11:45 and got the last table. The place is medium size, but does have a very large bar with seating on three sides. And Surly on tap. Sadly, we took a pass, as we had to return to work. The four is us ordered two pizza's. One was meatless - fresh tomato (little cherry tomatoes), green pepper and kalamata olives; the other was a non-Catholic, seriously drool over the smell worthy pizza, with fennel sausage, hot salami, onion and cracked green olives. $13 each, with tax and tip. More than worth it. The flavors were fresh, nice amount of cheese, lightly charred, crispy crust. Yum. I will be back, and will order one of the gorgeous salads that paraded by our table. The Hostess was very nice and had a happy demeanor (which a full house will probably cause in most cases). I hope this place sticks.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: rp1760

                                          I went to the St. Paul Black Sheep Pizza for the first time last Saturday afternoon. Very happy to see it in the Rossmor Building, just down the hill from my house!

                                          The Lovely Wife had stopped in the week they opened to pick up a pizza and met Jordan (owner) at that time. He greeted us at the door and told her he was happy she brought the husband this time!

                                          The St. Paul location is on the basment level, like the Minneapolis location. The floor plan is more open. It helps that there are windows running along the Robert Street and 10th Street sides of the space.

                                          We had a terrific Farmers Market Salad with grilled asparagus and roasted potatoes, served with a great tarragon dressing. We also split a #5 pizza.

                                          Service was friendly and prompt, and the music was a welcome change from the usual muzak--Sly Stone, Lou Reed, and The Clash!

                                          We will be going back regularly.

                                        2. Had a #5 for lunch yesterday. Good pizza and attentive service. I like that the pizza does not come soggy in the middle like it does at Punch.

                                          16 Replies
                                          1. re: ssioff

                                            The punch comment is also my favorite thing about Black Sheep's pizza (or oven rather). There is nothing worse than a beautifully done crust w/ great toppings only to find out the inner 33.3% is soggy.

                                            1. re: NugarifiK

                                              I hear you NugarifiK. First time I had a Punch pizza I wanted to take it back to the counter and ask them to cook it until it was done.

                                              1. re: ssioff

                                                That soggy crust in the middle nonsense doesn't happen at Pizza Nea. I go there, instead of Punch.

                                            2. re: ssioff

                                              I know that's a persistent complaint of Punch Pizza - the soggy middle. Personally, I like it that way, and often ask for my pizza with extra olive oil so it's even a little soggier.

                                              That said, I'm a huge fan of Black Sheep, Nea, and Biga, whose middles aren't soggy. Punch isn't my favorite on the list, but sometimes I go to Punch specifically for that soggy middle. I think it's a matter of personal preference, rather than a fault with their pizza. They don't have to make it that way - they choose to.

                                              Punch Pizza
                                              3226 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55416

                                              1. re: foreverhungry

                                                I don't mind the "soggy" middle at all. I think it's a matter of the dough being weighed down with olive oil, rather than saturated, which is a key difference.

                                                1. re: kevin47

                                                  I love punch flavor and ingredients...but I totally agree with the soggy middle. It creates a rather unappetizing final product and is not something I have experienced to such a scale in similar restaurants in milan, rome, etc.....

                                                  Great Pizza....but something that is noticeable to others I have eaten with as well.

                                                  1. re: kevin47

                                                    Mark me in the "enjoyers of the soggy middle" catagory.

                                                    If you've had pizza in Naples...you know soggy middle is sorta what they're going for.

                                                    1. re: Foureyes137

                                                      Agreed. Which is why Punch is the only pizza joint in MN to have the Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana rating. It certainly doesn't mean everything. And it might not be to everyone's liking. But given that most folks give Naples as pizza basic origin, it means something.

                                                  2. re: foreverhungry

                                                    I had lunch at Black Sheep St. Paul yesterday - we ordered 3 pizzas. One had a soggy middle. Just sayin'... :-)

                                                    I think it's a factor of the toppings, actually - the soggy Black Sheep pizza was the most loaded one. At Punch (which I adore), I order only "lightly topped" pizzas, so I haven't noticed a soggy middle problem. Plus, I always ask for a well done pizza, because I do love a slightly burnt crust. Those black crust bubbles rule!

                                                    So it's a case of "chacun à son goo" - one person's perfect pizza is another's "meh". I'm just glad we have so many great places to choose from!

                                                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                      True. Pizza is very individual. Personally, I hate the ones that rely upon sugared up (and probably MSG'd) sauce. And I like grease as much as the next person, but gobs of it don't belong on pizza.

                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                        "And I like grease as much as the next person, but gobs of it don't belong on pizza."

                                                        I think this is an important point - insofar as pizza goes - that sandlylc raises. And to some extend, I think it depends on what you're raised on. I was raised on NJ style pizza - the big pie, thin crust (not Black Sheep or Punch thin, though), where you fold the slice and the tip flops. I'd tell friends that the grease would run off the tip of the slice, and they'd say "ewwwww".....as they are eating their Cosetta's or Fat Lorenzo's pizza slice. At the same time, a Punch offers extra olive oil on their pizza.

                                                        To each their own, but it's interesting how some view fat on pizza.

                                                        Fat Lorenzos
                                                        5600 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55417

                                                        1. re: foreverhungry

                                                          Speaking of which... Just consumed (the word "ate" seems too dignified), the Guinness pizza @ Bonfire Plymouth. This is what a soggy middle looks like. The crust has disintegrated. Awful.

                                                  3. re: ssioff

                                                    We finally made it to the St. Paul location today. We had the bread to start which was nicely seasoned and quite yummy. We ordered two pizzas - a #5 with extra olives and a #1 with canadian bacon. The waitress warned about not putting too many toppings on the pizza because the pizza will be too "heavy." Made me think she was warning against the soggy middle issue. Both pizzas came out tasting great with no soggy middles. That said, I don't know I'd say it's better than Punch. Certainly right up there with Punch - I do love a nice level of carcinogens on my pizza - but there's a lot to be said for that olive oil and mozzarella too. I would say that Black Sheep gets a +1 for 1919 Root Beer on tap, though.

                                                    1. re: Seige

                                                      Good example of "So it's a case of "chacun à son goo" - one person's perfect pizza is another's "meh". I'm just glad we have so many great places to choose from!".

                                                      I learned to eat pizza in NYC and can't imagine why anyone would put anything ever on pizza. In my vision of the perfect order, the best pizza is eaten plain. The combination of lots of tomato sauce and fresh mozarella, various seasonings and olive oil, is just all you need to savor. (I had a terrible time living in California due to this vision.)

                                                      Just my 2 cents worth.

                                                      1. re: discus

                                                        Black sheep doesn't get much love now that lola is all the rage....how does black sheeps pizza hold up on takeout? Is it one of those pizzas best right out of the oven?

                                                        1. re: kriminalrat

                                                          What pizza isn't best right out of the oven?