Review: Wrestaurant at the Palace (and its delicious pizza) welcome addition to downtown St. Paul

One of the greatest things to happen to downtown St. Paul in the past decade has been the opening of the Palace Theatre as a music venue.

The Palace hosts mostly rock shows — often acts that I want to see — in a restored yet still funky old space. And there are some places to eat nearby, but honestly, I have grown tired of most of them.

Enter Wrestaurant at the Palace. The bar and pizzeria that opened late this summer in the former Wild Tymes space next to the venue was initially reported to be opening soon in 2017 — I guess good things come to those who wait.

The restaurant is a partnership between First Avenue, which manages The Palace, and Wrecktangle Pizza, which has three Minneapolis locations. The interior has been completely transformed from the dingy bar that previously occupied it. Though a long, rectangular bar is still front and center, it’s surrounded by walnut mid-century-modern-style bar stools and smart, dark wood banquet tables. The walls are painted a deep teal, and little shelves full of plants brighten things up. In short, it’s a pretty, comfortable space.

The main focus of the menu is pizza, of course — Detroit-style deep dish with crispy-cheese-laden edges. There are a lot of Detroit-style pizza places in the Twin Cities right now; it’s sort of the smash burger of the pizza world. And I’d argue that Wrectangle’s is the most consistent and best of the bunch.

Since I’ve had their pizzas a few times, we decided on a recent visit to try a few other things from the menu along with a pizza.

Wings at Wrestaurant at the Palace. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

We started with some wings, which are dry rubbed with a tasty spice mix. I wish they had been cut into sections for easier eating, but that’s a personal preference. I know some people prefer them to be left whole. They were properly cooked, and split apart easily, which is the most important thing. They came with a slightly spicy ranch and overall were some of the best wings I’ve tasted (outside of my backyard) for a while.

We also could not resist the Pizza Rowls, especially after one of my dining companions told us the origin story of the Pizza Roll, which was invented by Jeno Paulucci in Duluth in 1960.

Paulucci stuffed pizza toppings into egg roll wrappers instead of the traditional Asian ingredients, and a star was born.

Pizza rolls at Wrestaurant at the Palace. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

The story made what appeared before us make perfect sense! Wrecktangle’s version looks exactly like an eggroll and is served in a bag similar to what you find at many Asian restaurants. The fillings (cheese, pancetta, tomato) were much fresher than the Totino’s version, too.

We also loved the Sesame Smash Burger, which tasted pretty much like a typical smash burger (we didn’t get any sesame flavor), but it’s served on four little Hawaiian buns, still stuck together, which made it easy to cut into four appetizer-size sliders. Genius!

And our pizza, the meatball, was everything I’ve come to expect from Wrecktangle. It starts with a pillowy, focaccia-based crust topped with a fresh sauce and a ton of cheese that is purposely sprinkled over the edges so it creates an irresistible crispy-cheese outside to the crust. The toppings on this one include crisp little beef meatballs, orbs of fresh mozzarella bathed in bright pesto and peppy sweety drop peppers. We all thought we’d have one piece and be done, but ended up going back for more because it was so delicious.

Drinks here are well-made, too, and run the gamut from a fancy, briny aquavit-based drink simply called celery to the very downscale grape ape.

And the best part about all of this? They take reservations, which I’ll promptly be making right after I buy tickets to my next Palace show.

Bravo, First Avenue and Wrecktangle! You have a hit on your hands.

Small Bites are first glances — not intended as definitive reviews — of new or changed restaurants.

Wrestaurant at the Palace

Where: 33 W. Seventh Place, St. Paul

Contact: 952-600-5611;

Prices: Appetizers, $3-$18; sandwiches, $15; whole pizzas, $15-$25

Good to know: Takes reservations, but there is also ample bar seating

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