A Table For Black Sheep


Black Sheep Pizza celebrates everyone’s differences. And what better way to do that than over a slice of their delicious pizza?

It seems every corner you turn in the Twin Cities, there’s a new pizza joint. Not that I’m complaining… I’m fairly certain the delivery staff at every local pizza shop have my address memorized. But out of every slice, one stands out among the rest: Black Sheep Pizza.

Black Sheep Pizza boasts three Twin Cities locations, plus an outpost location at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Photo by Kianna Notermann

Founded by Jordan Smith and his wife, Colleen Doran, Black Sheep Pizza opened after their 2005 President’s Day weekend in New York City. While there, they ate at Patsy’s Pizza, one of the original coal-fired pizza restaurants in NYC and recounted for each other their first encounters with coal-fired pizza.

“Besides the phenomenal taste sensation, Jordan’s memories revolved around getting a glimpse of the huge coal-fired oven, aptly named Vesuvius, and Colleen’s memories related to ‘learning’ how to eat a big slice of coal-fired pizza (incidentally, you fold it in half maintaining the triangle pie shape),” says Kristina Lawson, director of operations for Black Sheep Pizza.

Today, there are three Black Sheep Pizza locations throughout the Twin Cities, located on Washington Avenue and Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis and Robert Street in St. Paul. There is also an outpost location at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

From their unique pizza topping combinations to the eclectic atmosphere of each restaurant, there are a lot of things that make Black Sheep Pizza stand out. But perhaps its coal-fired pizza is what truly makes it a Twin Cities gem.

“Coal was used by early 20th century Italian immigrants who could not afford to use wood for their pizza ovens. The first coal-fired pizza place opened in New York City in 1905, it was also the first licensed pizzeria in the country,” Lawson says. “There have been many since, but Black Sheep Pizza was the first in Minnesota. It is a uniquely East Coast concept, and it has been spreading across the North and Northeast. Coal burns hotter, drier, and cleaner than wood and creates a crispier crust.”

Black Sheep Pizza became the first coal-fired pizzeria in Minnesota. Photo by Kianna Notermann

Black Sheep Pizza uses anthracite coal, which has a high carbon content, a low amount of impurities and is friendlier than burning wood. It is the type of coal that produces the most amount of energy but the least amount of pollution, so it is clean-burning and virtually particulate-free.

In addition to being conscious of the environment, Black Sheep Pizza gives back to the community. “This year we decided to try something new. Each month, we partner with a different organization that is making a positive impact in our community and beyond. In our partnerships, we raise funds by donating a portion of every #1 pizza purchased, share the organization’s mission and the work being done, and get involved in local events,” Lawson says.

The #1 pizza is a simple cheese and sauce pie, but Lawson says its simplicity doesn’t make it any less popular among pizza lovers.

“It might sound simple to some, but you get a true experience with our dough recipe along with our housemade sauce topped with fresh milk mozzarella, fresh oregano and extra virgin olive oil. Our pizza is thin crust, but we do offer a Sicilian style for those that are interested in a thicker style,” she says.

Black Sheep Pizza’s top selling pies are #4, meatball, ricotta and garlic, and #5, fennel sausage, hot salami, onions and cracked green olives.

“We use fresh ingredients and make as much as we can in our stores including fennel sausage, meatballs, dressings, sauces and pickled vegetables,” Lawson says. “Although it is easy to think of us as just pizza, we are also known for our fantastic salads and grilled items!”

With “A Table for Everyone” as its slogan, Black Sheep Pizza is welcoming to all pizza lovers.

“Whether you are a guest or part of the team, our mission is to create and maintain an extraordinary culture where great food, drink and hospitality make everyone feel welcome and appreciated! We celebrate having ‘A Table for Everyone’ every day in our restaurants and consistently work to create an environment of compassion, empowerment and kindness,” Lawson says.

New at Black Sheep Pizza? The St. Paul location just received a total refresh with the addition of a full bar. “As usual, we are always looking for new ideas to connect with our guests and staff but not quite yet ready to
announce any details. Stay tuned for upcoming fun!”

For more information, visit blacksheeppizza.com.

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