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Updating the Pizzeria Playbook

Updating the Pizzeria Playbook

Young Joni's wood-oven pizza is part of an elevated global menu

The reputation of this Minneapolis restaurant spans halfway across the state. If you ask foodservice industry professionals and/or avowed pizza lovers, they’ll often mention Young Joni and its James Beard Award-winning chef-owner. The third pizza restaurant opened by chef Ann Kim and partner Conrad Leifur, Young Joni raises a bar that had already been set high.

When guests walk into the warm, low-key sophisticated dining room, the aroma from wood ovens provides the first cue of what their experience will be. The pizzeria concept is elevated in every way, from house-made red sauce to fresh herbs to toppings like caramelized onions and Yukon gold potatoes.

Even what other places call “meat lovers” (here it’s the YOLO) is made special with fennel sausage, Nueske’s bacon and natural-casing pepperoni. Each ingredient is carefully sourced and seasoned with fresh spices to fit the theme.

According to the culinary team, the foundation of the pizza is the most important thing of all.

“For us, it all starts with our dough,” says executive chef Ian Heieie. “Through curiosity, repetition and attention to craft, our teams transform four simple ingredients—flour, water, salt and yeast—into the dough, which is the heart of our award-winning pizzas.”

Chef/owner Kim is a Korean immigrant, and leans into her Asian culinary expertise for all menu sections from signature pizzas to vegetarian-friendly sides.

For operators struggling to please customers who increasingly request vegan options, “lighter fare” or low-carb, the success of this restaurant proves that your chef can focus on quality of items and personal culinary background to successfully update the pizzeria model.

At Young Joni’s, pizza dough is handcrafted in-house daily, including a masterful gluten-free pizza crust.

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