Five Questions For... Aaron Landry of S4xton.com
Good bloggers map out a niche and dominate it. Few have pursued this approach as thoroughly as local pizza blogger Aaron Landry. Landry (who occasionally gets worked up about cupcakes, as well), approaches pizza with a dedication to accuracy, detail and scrupulous even-handedness that is more in line with a food writer for Saveur than a local dude with a fast Internet connection.
Landry works as an IT manager and social media consultant for a design firm in Saint Paul. A man of many outlets, he writes at his personal site, posts frequently on his tumblelog and through this election cycle wrote about politics at MNpublius.
Seemingly overnight, you've become one of the most prolific and thoughtful local writers on the topic of pizza. What is it about pizza that justifies so many posts?
AARON: I've always loved pizza but I didn't start writing about it on my blog until I was planning a trip to Washington, D.C. I realized in the five days I was staying there I was meeting up with five different women at five different pizza places. I figured it'd be a compelling thing to write about the pizza, that is. When I came home, I decided to keep writing on pizza. I avoid saying that I "review" pizza places because I honestly give a little less regard to the reader in terms of providing them a full review compared to most professionals, I think. I talk about my experience, a little bit about the pizza and take a few photos. I think I complement professional reviews well but I certainly don't replace them. I'm more of a "regular guy" who loves pizza compared to someone that actually has a diverse taste in food and can write well. I think people appreciate that, though.
Do you see yourself as a booster of any one ideal of pizza? Do the Twin Cities have a single style of pizza that is dominant?
I'm a huge fan of Neapolitan style pizza. There are only a few in the Minneapolis area: Punch Pizza and Pizza Nea are the two big names locally that will serve it close to Italian standards. Some people say it's the best pizza they've ever had. As for a dominant pizza in the area, the "Midwestern style" is certainly the most popular: thin crust, a lot more cheese than sauce, generally rather greasy and most of the time cut in squares. It's not pizza to be proud of but it is certainly is satisfying, isn't it?
What's the best slice you've had in the Twin Cities?
I have a hard time listing off a favorite slice. If I could name a few, Michelangelo's Masterpizzas near 50th and Xerxes and Galactic Pizza in Uptown are great, Roman Market in Willernie has a wonderful take on a Neapolitan-like style, and Randy's Premier Pizza in Oakdale and Fireside Pizza in Richfield probably have my favorite Midwestern style. I maintain loyalty cards with Pizza Luce and Punch Pizza.
Let me flip that question around: How about the worst Twin Cities slice?
I'm not a fan of Parkway Pizza in Longfellow. It's another Midwestern-style delivery but the cheese always falls off and they mess up my order every time. They're young, very entrepreneurial but they need to lay off whatever they're smoking. One time they called me repeatedly to verify my order and they kept screwing it up, then called to verify that I received a pizza I didn't receive. I'm not a fan of their sauce and a couple times my pizza was unevenly cooked. Some of my neighbors have had much better experiences and I honestly hate trashing local places do give them a shot if you're in the 'hood and find out yourself.
The award for the worst pizza in the area goes the national chains. Never order from them, no matter how drunk you are or how much of a deal you might think it is. There are too many locally owned spots that won't use a grease spray on your pie. For late-night delivery, Pizza Luce is always ten times better than any national chain. Support your neighbors, I say. Even if it is Parkway Pizza.
Do you have any ambition to turn your pizza writing into its own site or another kind of stand-alone project...?
I have no ambition to take my pizza writing farther than I've gone but I'm not going to stop either. I find other things to write about and for the most part, to my surprise, my audience usually sticks with me.