5405 Leary Ave NW
What. The. Fuck. That's not a question. It's a command. It's a command to the owner of Zayda Buddy's Pizza to explain that fucked up name. Zayda Buddy's. Zayda. Buddy's. Zayda Buddy's. That's really the name of the place. Zayda Buddy's Pizza. What does it mean? Is Zayda Buddy a guy's name? Or is the guy's name ONLY Zayda, and the place is owned by his buddy? Or would that actually be “Zayda'S Buddy's Pizza?” I hate it the way I hate Ruth's Chris Steak House, because it's grammatically imprecise, and it makes NO GODDAMN SENSE. Actually, it probably makes perfect sense to Sarah Palin. You should not have to do sentence diagrams on a restaurant's name. Just call it something like “Cafe Maximillian Robespierre,” or “Restaurant Iron Maiden” (I wish) and be done with it already. Comprehending the name “Zayda Buddy's Pizza” is like trying to honestly comprehend your own death: it just doesn't compute. We were programmed by evolution to not understand nonexistence; our brains are similarly hardwired not to understand dumb pizzeria names.
The only thing that's more nonsensical than Zayda Buddy's name is its menu: they claim to serve “Minnesota style pizza.” Allow me to reiterate: What. The. Fuck. Personally, I didn't know Minnesota style pizza even existed! That's pretty random. But not as random as the robot I invented which points out fall foliage: the robot rolls down the street, and whenever it detects the orange and red wavelengths of light emanating from tree leaves, klaxons sound, a warning light blinks, and the robot squawks “FALL FOLIAGE ALERT! FALL FOLIAGE ALERT!” in its retarded Stephen Hawking voice. And if you actually think that the FoliageBot 5000 is a good idea, too bad: patent pending, bitches.
The best part about mocking Minnesota style pizza? No one will complain. That's because the people of Minnesota are famously nice. This seems maladaptive to me from an evolutionary standpoint, considering that only the bastards survive, and retards are usually docile. If you ever meet someone with Down's Syndrome, you'll find them to be SUPER NICE. In fact, Down's Syndrome patients are just as nice as Minnesotans, only Down's Syndrome sufferers eat their boogers more. If I was Bill Gates, I would undertake a philanthropic venture to toughen up the citizens of Minnesota: take all of the people of the meanest state, which I would presume is New York, and take all the Minnesotans, and make them meet somewhere in the middle, like Indiana. Then make them fuck, and hopefully the meanness and niceness will cancel out and the resulting offspring would all be children of even temper. Then you could repopulate Minnesota with normal people. You may ask yourself “Why would Bill Gates spend money on such a bizarre, unfeasible, and unethical plan?” Answer: because he can. After all, if you've got the wealth and power of a Roman emperor, like Bill Gates has, shouldn't you act like one? At least Bill Gates would PAY those Minnesota assholes to do this. Caligula would have simply forced them at the point of a sword.
I guess I'm done making fun of Minnesota, so perhaps I should get to the point of this review, which is Zayda Buddy's. They don't take reservations, which is fine, because it isn't that kind of place. It's more of a bar than a restaurant anyway. Cans of shitty beer cost $3, which in my mind is too expensive. I haven't paid that much money for a CAN of beer since I bought one just so I could piss in a strip club in the French Quarter in 1996. Yeah, yeah, I know, inflation has raised prices, but still.
We started with Mipo's Sweet Potato Salad ($5.95). Like the name of the restaurant, the sweet potato salad could have used some well placed punctuation. I thought it would be a salad of sweet potatoes, which seemed like a great idea. However, they weren't the soft, earthy, bright orange tubers we all know as sweet potatoes. Rather, they were regular potatoes that had been SWEETENED somehow. The dressing was curried mayonnaise, with sweet pickle relish, and a generous dusting of paprika. The dressing tasted fine but the potatoes were undercooked enough to still be crunchy.
A cup of the beer cheese soup ($4.95) had nice sharp cheese flavor, and was flecked with thin slices of onion and carrot. It was creamy and hearty, but perhaps they could've thinned it with some more beer because it was like spooning up a cup of melted Velveeta. I would totally dip bread or a chip into the beer cheese soup, but spooning up a whole cup is a little much, even for me, and I revel in saturated fat so much that I would mainline foie gras if I could.
Speaking of reveling in saturated fat, the Tater Tot Hot Dish ($9.50) set the bar pretty high. It seemed to be a mixture of Stove Top stuffing, cream of mushroom soup, and ground beef, topped with a couple of Tater Tots and melted cheese. Those ingredients combined to give me a glimmer of what it was like to grow up in Minnesota 20 years ago. If they'd seasoned it with road salt and covered the whole thing with snow, it would probably be a slam dunk. If nostalgic comfort food is what they were shooting for, then mission accomplished. While the Tater Tot Hot Dish didn't taste that great, I would eat this with FUCKING GUSTO if I were hungover. Unfortunately, it came with a lame side salad of green leaf lettuce and spinach, which was topped with a glossy maroon pile of pickled beets, onions, and garbanzo beans, which I largely ignored.
Finally the vaunted Minnesota style pizza appeared and I was pleasantly surprised. And by “pleasantly surprised” I mean “completely fucking astonished by how good it tasted.” The 12” Eric the Red ($14.95) featured a crispy thin crust, a rich sweet tomato sauce, salami, pickled peppers, and crumbled Italian sausage. The pickled peppers were vinegary and gave a subtle heat. The flavors were pretty well balanced. The crust shatters when you bite it. Minnesota style pizza is so delicious that I would almost feel bad for ridiculing it earlier if I had a conscience. Luckily I don't, which saves me lots of time. It's so damn good I won't even complain about the retarded way they cut the pie up into squares, instead of wedges like normal pizza.
I'm out of put downs about Zayda Buddy's at this point, which I think is some sort of milestone, so I'll just close with this: while the mythic Minnesota style pizza is very good, I'd probably only go back to Zayda Buddy's if I happened to be in Ballard for some reason. If I lived in Ballard, I'd probably frequent this place, if only for the pizza, but since I don't live around there, they can all go fuck themselves. In the nicest Minnesota way possible.
Rating: 5 bitterly cold Minnesota winters out of 10