MINNEAPOLIS (Nov. 8, 2010) – Ann Kim, former freelance actor and member of the Children’s Theatre acting company is running a new artisan troupe these days; Pizzeria Lola. During the last week of November, she and business partner Conrad Leifur are opening a fun, casual wood-fired pizza eatery on the corner of 56th St. and Xerxes Ave. in Southwest Minneapolis, 5557 Xerxes Ave. S.
“Our approach is simple: Great pizza, great service in a fun setting,” said Kim. “The pizza is based on a tradition of artisan baking principles, incorporating the best pizza-making practices developed over thousands of years. The inspiration behind the pizzeria came from spending our most formative pizza eating years attending college in New York City and New Haven, Conn., two cities known for outstanding pizza. We couldn’t find the kind of pizza we wanted to eat nearby, so we decided to create it.”
Pizzeria Lola will feature wood-fired pizza characterized by thin, crispy but chewy and slightly charred crusts – the product of a lengthy fermentation process and expert oven management. The crusts will be topped with the highest quality ingredients in combinations that are familiar such as tomato, basil and mozzarella, and the less familiar such as guanciale, soft egg and green onion. Daily pizza specials inspired by the seasons and unique Korean combinations will also make appearances. The menu focuses on creating a few items exceptionally well. “Everything we make is done with love and integrity, from the dough to house made Berkshire pork sausage and soft serve ice-cream,” Kim added. Craft beers on tap and affordable wines complete the experience.
“Ann and I are a part of this community and look forward to serving our neighbors and fellow Twin Citians,” said Leifur. “As for the name – we took inspiration from our dog Lola, the pizza-eating Weimaraner.”
Ann Kim is a certified pizzaiola, one of approximately 90 certified by the International School of Pizza, the only school in the United States affiliated with the Scuola Italiana Pizzaiolo in Italy. Under the tutelage of Tony Gemignani in San Francisco, the first master instructor in the United States and nine-time world pizza champion, Kim received intensive, hands-on training gaining certification in American, Neapolitan and Sicilian-style pizzas. Chris Hinrichs, formerly of Barrio St. Paul and La Belle Vie, will assist in managing the kitchen. “We’re thrilled to have Chris on board. He has awesome culinary skills, but more importantly a true passion for cooking and exceeding expectations,” Kim said.
Neighborhood Pizzeria, International Oven
The oven is the visual centerpiece of the eatery. It is clad in copper and illuminated by a skylight. The atmosphere will reinforce the “sophisticated casualness” of the menu with an open kitchen adding energy and vitality to the entire experience.
“We took a very hands-on approach to the design of the restaurant,” said Kim. “We revitalized the old cement floor, put re-claimed southern pine flooring on the walls, recycled tomato cans turning them into lighting fixtures and gave new life to old chapel chairs found on Craigslist – it’s eclectic, warm, welcoming and fun. Pizzeria Lola is a labor of love and we can’t wait to share it with everyone.”
Ralph Nelson, principal of St. Paul-based LOOM studio, worked with Kim and Leifur to create an environment with maximum sensory effect through a minimum of material means. “Ann and Con set out to create a neighborhood institution that would foster joy, beauty and friendship – the design reflects these ideals,” said Nelson. “Our working process was truly collaborative with the owners, architects, contractors, trade craftsmen and graphic designers all working to achieve the same remarkable outcome with a spirit of integrity. The restaurant is pure theater, with patrons and staff creating a new performance each day around the hearth of a fire.”
When it comes to the oven, Kim is tapping ancient clay deposits from France to bake the artisan creations. The Le Panyol™ oven is one of only a handful in the United States. The wood-fired oven is built from Terre Blanche clay that hails from Larnage, France. Terre Blanche is a white, kaolinic, refractory clay of exceptional quality known for its superior thermal properties. The clay does not contain any iron oxide so it will not distort the taste of food. Le Panyol ovens are the world’s only 100 percent organic wood-fired oven.