You won't get a huge menu selection or special kids' placemats with crayons at Red's Savoy Pizza in St. Paul. Neither will you get a perky 'Hi, my name is Amber, and I'll be your server tonight.'
Savoy is strictly old school. The pizzeria started on East Seventh Street 65 years ago. Since then, numerous Savoy Pizzas have opened, but for the original Savoy experience, you need to go to the first location. To eat there is to visit the St. Paul of your past. In fact, it seems to have changed little from when my dad used to take my sister and me there for the best pizza around.
When you walk into the dark room during daylight hours, it's like going blind. There are no windows, and you may assume, incorrectly, that you've wandered into one of those bars you don't want your kids to know about, much less visit. When your eyes adjust, you'll see a large mural of a dark-haired beauty balancing a pizza on one hand while looking out at a gondola-filled canal, which should make you feel better about being here.
There are tables in the bar area and more on the restaurant side farther in. If you come with kids, the staff will try to move you toward the restaurant side, away from the occasional "bad language" in the bar, as one staffer said.
That's where my two elementary-school-aged kids and I were seated on a recent weeknight. It was our second attempt; we tried to get in around 6 p.m. on a Saturday when an ice hockey tournament was at the Xcel Energy Center.
Besides pizza and pasta, the menu also offers hamburgers and cheeseburgers. But my kids went with the pizza — a large half-cheese, half-black-olive pizza ($12). It wasn't fancy, but it's cut into squares (something I firmly believe makes a pizza taste better) and slathered with a kick-butt sauce. I expected my kids would think it was too spicy, but they
I tried the Savoy sampler ($7.75) — a large bowl of rigatoni, ravioli and spaghetti topped with two huge meatballs — and served with salad and garlic toast. The pasta was good, with the same zesty red sauce that tops the pizza. The salad was made with romaine, instead of the usual iceberg lettuce, and cherry tomatoes, red onion and croutons were a nice addition. I also liked the dressing served on the side.
My 9-year-old daughter pronounced the garlic toast "a delightful, tasty sensation," while my son said he couldn't taste the garlic. I had to agree with him.
By the time we walked out, we were all stuffed; had spent $34, including tip; and had food to take home for lunch the next day. Plus, I got to revisit my childhood, and my kids got a chance to start making their own memories.
Kids' Cuisine is a one-time take on how restaurants handle kid customers. It's written by a rotation of Pioneer Press staffers with children — the real experts for this column. Emily Gurnon can be reached at 651-228-5522.
RED'S SAVOY PIZZA
Where: 421 E. Seventh St., St. Paul
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday
Prices: Pizzas $11 to $23, pastas $6 to $8