"The Best Afgani Pizza on EARTH," or so the sign tells us

I have my friend that I get dessert with. The friend I go on pub crawls with. My Red Dragon friend, football friends, music friends. Lisa is probably my adventure friend — or more specifically, as it relates to this blog, my food adventure friend. (I don’t mean to imply that none of my other friends like to try new things — stay with me here.) When we get together, rarely do we go to the same restaurant twice. She introduced me to Rice Paper and Quang’s. For her last day of “funemployment,” we decided to grab lunch somewhere that a) neither of us had been before, and b) was an ethnic food neither of us had had before.

We really had to hunt for this one.

Our queries on CityPages and MetroMag led us to Crescent Moon Bakery, an Afghan restaurant/pizzeria on Central in Northeast Minneapolis.

Situated within a few blocks of each other are Latino, Middle-Eastern, Indian, and Polish markets and restaurants; Central Avenue is an impressive collection of ethnically diverse offerings. Crescent Moon Bakery is one of the better-known establishments in the area, just a few steps from the respected Holy Land Deli.

Their menu might offer a range of options. I’m really not sure. We arrived on a mission to try what MetroMag called “the best ethnic pizza in the Twin Cities.” We wouldn’t be bothered with the first four pages of the menu, thanks.

Abdul, the adorable old man behind the counter steered us in the direction of the house special football pizza — spicy Halal beef, green peppers, and onions. I can’t really argue with what a restaurant believes is its finest offering, so we ordered it, along with a mango smoothie for Lisa and an iced tea for me.

A handful of minutes later a blanket of dough covered in a quilt of cheese (I’m honestly not trying to make a funny with the “Afghan” puns, I swear) on an oblong platter emerged from the back kitchen. No kidding — I could have covered a small child in it with room to spare. I expected something naan-sized, maybe twice the size of my hands. We did order a large, but…

Reviews we read spake of the legend of the green chutney that comes with their pizzas and its addictiveness. That is an absolutely true appraisal. And, a little to our chagrin, the chutney was probably the most interesting part of the pizza. I don’t mean to say it was bad, or that it was lacking in some substantive, unforgiveable way. I simply am saying that it was merely a solid pizza purveyed by an independent business owner who is carving out a little niche in a world of Dominos and Pizza Huts. I got my expectations too high, thinking (hoping?) that it would be some other-worldly example of the crossroads of Italy and the spices and sauciness of the Afghan/Pakistan/India region of the globe. What you get is an enjoyable pizza topped with a respectable sauce, standard greasy (but tasty!) mozzarella, and one — possibly two — semi-interesting toppings. And the chutney (which I think is similar to the mint-coriander condiment served at Indian restaurants). Can’t forget the chutney!

We finished off our meal with a gargantuan slice of what was clearly fresh, homemade baklava. Uh huh. Crispy, flaky, buttery, philo-y goodness.

Come to think of it, I’m actually not sure if I’ve introduced Lisa to any new, fabulous restaurants. It’s something to shoot for. I now know my mission.

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