Order Up! The closure of two old-school Italian joints suggest the end of an era

Squid ink bucatini from Due Foccaceria is part of a new era of Italian-American restaurants // Photo via Due Foccaceria Facebook

Order Up! is the Growler’s ongoing biweekly account of noteworthy Minnesota restaurant openings, closings, and future openings. Please send any tips to [email protected]

All dates are approximate based on best information available; opening dates, in particular, tend to shift around a lot. 

THIS WEEK’S GIST: There’s probably nothing to the closure, within a couple of days of one another, of Uptown and South Minneapolis red sauce reliables Al Vento and Uptown Pizza, but it’s hard not to feel like there’s something of a changing-of-the-guard going on in the hyper-conservative, sometimes remarkably stable world of Italian-American restaurants.

From a bird’s eye view, the advancement onto the scene of approachable but made-from-scratch Italian-inspired joints like St. Paul’s Mucci’s (now expanded to a second location in Minneapolis) and Due Focacceria may herald a real shift in consumer preferences. While there will always be a place in the food chain for classic, accessible Italian-American fare, restaurants that are willing to reinvent the genre from the ground up may be seizing an advantage in the conversation—while some older spots drift over the decades into convenient, off-the-rack fare and lackadaisical service, newer Italian-American spots sport a fiery commitment that younger diners in particular like to see when they’re spending their hard-earned dollars out on the town.

RECENTLY OPENED (Up to 2 Months)

The Block Food + Drink opened Oct. 8 in Saint Louis Park // Photo via The Block Food + Drink’s website

Potluck Food Hall, Rosedale Center, 1595 Hwy. 36 W., Roseville ■ A new seven-restaurant food court to replace the recently defunct Revolution Food Hall in Rosedale Center. Opened November 12, 2019.

FireBox Deli, 1585 Marshall Ave., St. Paul ■ This north Minneapolis BBQ favorite is opening an outpost at the busy intersection of Snelling and Marshall in St. Paul. Opened November 5.

Black Walnut Bakery, 3145 Hennepin Ave. South, Minneapolis ■ Baker Sarah Botcher is taking her cult-favorite wholesale baking business, known for its croissants, into a bricks-and-mortar space. Opened November 4.

Ichigo Tokyo Crepes,  3758 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis ■ Fish Bowl Poké’s move into the North Loop’s Graze project opened up this spot next to Ramen Kazama; a popular Japanese-style crepe pop-up is seizing the opportunity and opening its bricks and mortar location. Opened November 1.

Estelle, 1806 St Clair Ave, St Paul ■ The flavors of Southern Europe (Spain, Italy, Portugal) have popped up in the former Bottle Rocket space in St. Paul. Opened October 25.

Hot Hands Pie and Biscuit, 272 Snelling Ave. S., St Paul ■ Pie (both sweet and savory) and biscuits take center stage at this ambitious new St. Paul bakery. Opened October 21.

Baldamar, 1642 County Road B2 West, Roseville ■ Aged beef and giant, Manny’s-esque desserts are the highlights of this upscale restaurant near Rosedale Center, owned by Randy Stanley (of 6Smith in Wayzata). Opened October 16.

Monkey Temple Tandoori Grill and Ale House, 272 Snelling Ave S #200, St. Paul ■ Indian fusion cuisine and craft beer in a crisp, modern space. Opened October 11.

Provision Community Restaurant, 2940 Harriet Ave. S, Minneapolis Pay-what-you-can is the rule at this new community eatery with a focus on healthy, family-style meals. Opened October 11.

The Block Food + Drink, 7007 Walker Street, St. Louis Park ■ A new restaurant and dog-friendly patio by Craft & Crew (Stanley’s, The Howe, and more). Opened October 8.

Thr3 Jack, 729 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis ■ Six state-of-the-art golf simulators and elevated comfort food will define this new 200-seat restaurant in the North Loop’s soon-to-open Nordic mixed-use complex. Opened October 7.

Snack Bar, 800 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis ■ The couple behind 112 Eatery, Burch, and Bar La Grassa (Isaac Becker and Nancy St. Pierre) have opened a New York-inspired pizza slice shop and wine bar in the former Be’Wiched space. Opened October 6.

Hope Breakfast Bar, 1 S Leech St., St. Paul ■ Approachable and elevated breakfast options will be the mainstays of this soon-to-open St. Paul breakfast spot. Opened September 26.

RECENTLY CLOSED (Up to 2 Months)

The Dough Room closed Oct. 5 // Photo via The Dough Room Facebook

Piggy Bank Eatery ■ The latest tenant in what surely must rank among the top five “cursed” locations in the metro (Hennepin and 29th) has closed. Closed November 20. 

Al Vento ■ This longstanding South Minneapolis Italian mainstay closed without warning. Closed November 15. 

Uptown Pizza ■ One of Uptown’s old reliable eateries and one of the area’s only purveyors of garlic knots has shut its doors for good. Closed November 13. 

O’Gara’s (Cancelled Re-opening) ■ The 77-year-old St. Paul Irish pub / landmark will not be reopening after a long shutdown for renovation, but the brand will continue at the Minnesota State Fair and do business as a catering company. Announced November 4. 

Rose Street Patisserie (Linden Hills Location) ■ The pioneering location of Rose Street Patisserie has closed and will become a Daniel Del Prado project to be announced at a later time. Closed November 3. 

Funky Grits ■ On the heels of a triumphant Minnesota State Fair tour, the South Minneapolis grits restaurant is shutting its doors and reinventing itself as a community cafe in a new location on Bloomington Ave and 37th Street. Closed October 5. Read our story about black-owned restaurants, Minnesota Soul.

The Dough Room ■ The new and swanky pizza (and more!) Wayzata restaurant has called it quits. Closed October 5. Read our review of their margherita pizza.

Seventh Street Social ■ After six years of service, the West 7th Street restaurant is shutting its doors and reopening as an event space. Closed September 29. 

Libertine ■ After five years in (and on the rooftop of) Calhoun Square, the Parasole group-owned restaurant Libertine has shut down. Closed September 29. 

Elephant Bar ■ A few months into its opening run, Lowertown’s Elephant Bar has shut its doors. Closed September 24. Read our review of their kebab roll.

UPCOMING (Most Imminent to Furthest Out)

A maple juniper roast pheasant with crab apples and corn mush from the Sioux Chef // Photo via Sioux Chef Facebook

Asa’s Bakery, 3507 23rd Ave. S., Minneapolis ■ Midtown Farmers Market vendor Asa Diebolt is bringing bagels, naturally leavened bread and bialys to a South Minneapolis bricks and mortar location. Opens November 2019.

Heather’s,  5201 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis ■ The long-vacant Mario’s space in South Minneapolis will be reborn with a flexible, seasonal menu under the leadership of Heather Asbury, formerly of Lucia’s. Opens Winter 2019.

The Nordic Galley Group project, 729 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis ■ A four-restaurant food hall / incubator in the new Nordic development. Part of a series of Galley Group incubator spaces including spots in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Detroit. Opens Winter 2019/2020.

just/us, 275 4th St E, St. Paul ■ This chef-driven collective restaurant, open for about a year at 465 Wabasha Street, is reopening with support from crowdfunding. Opens Winter 2019. Read our review, “Raw Talent.”

Cajun Twist, 3761 Bloomington Ave, Minneapolis ■ This Cajun-inspired restaurant will be moving from its current location at the trailhead at Theodore Wirth Park to the former Marla’s location in South Minneapolis. Opens December 2019. 

Pie & Mighty, 3553 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis ■ Gourmet pies (and pie subscriptions) will be the thing at this bricks-and-mortar incarnation of the popular local baking company. Opens 2019. 

Pearl and the Thief, 811 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis ■ This former Stillwater-based restaurant is in the process of relocating to downtown Minneapolis, colocating with the Moxy Downtown Minneapolis hotel and Ironclad Residential development. Opening timing unclear.

Forest to Fork’s Urban Wok, Keg and Case at 928 7th St W, St. Paul ■ A new, restaurant-focused side of the Forest to Fork mushroom and wild foods business in Keg and Case, featuring vegan and vegetarian stir-fry and noodle options. Opening timing unclear.

The Lumberjack, 123 North 2nd St, Suite 102, Stillwater ■ Axe throwing, board games, and comfort food are among the key draws at this upcoming Stillwater restaurant. Late 2019.

Pajarito (Edina location), 3910 W 50th St, Edina ■ A second location of the popular West 7th modern Mexican restaurant is opening up in the former Tejas space in Edina. Late 2019.

Sooki and Mimi, 1432 W. 31st St., Minneapolis ■ A new spot from Ann Kim’s restaurant group focused on tacos wrapped in handmade, traditional tortillas plus a basement bar. Early 2020.

Unleashed: Hounds and Hops, 200 E. Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis ■ A dog-focused tap house, dog park, and eatery located near the Minneapolis Farmers Market. Early 2020.

Pho Mai, 319 14th Ave SE, Minneapolis ■ A new pho-focused eatery in a former Dinkytown Tim Horton’s, from the owner of the popular MT Noodles in Brooklyn Park. February 2020.

Malcolm Yards Market, 501 30th Ave. SE, Minneapolis ■  A food hall that will capitalize on its proximity to Surly’s massive brewery/restaurant complex. Spring 2020.

Dayton’s Food Hall & Market, 700 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis ■ Major new 40,000-square-foot food hall curated by Andrew Zimmern. 2020.

The Sioux Chef Restaurant at Water Works, On the Mississippi River, behind the Mill City Museum ■ A restaurant focused on American Indian cuisine as imagined by Sean Sherman, The Sioux Chef. Currently delayed; as per Dana Thompson (co-owner / COO of Sioux Chef), “We are at the mercy of the Park Board project and we keep getting notified that Waterworks has encountered a series of delays. As you know, this project is an archeological dig, so add that on to what it takes to open a restaurant, and there are a few challenges.” 2021.