The next chef to review has a long history in the industry, and a special connection with his own restaurant. Meet Josh Hanson, Owner and Chef at Spanky’s Stone Hearth. Josh has been with Spanky’s since he was 16 years old.
“My grandparents took me out to dinner and the owner visited our table to check on our meal, the service and to ask my grandfather if he knew of anyone who was in need of a summer job. I was working the following night. In 2005 I was given the opportunity to purchase Spanky’s Stone Hearth and take ownership. 28 years later, this venture has become much more than food and service. I asked my wife Megan to marry me here, my two sons, Huck and Walker, have spent many afternoons as unofficial chefs and dishwashers and I’ve shared many more of life’s milestones over a glass of wine and a NY Strip. If I’m not with my family or at the restaurant, you can find me in a tree stand or on a mountain.”
Josh visited a Fargo-Moorhead classic, Duane’s House of Pizza. He ordered a classic, Pepperoni Pizza.
“I have always loved comfort food—simple with rich flavors, and Duane’s House of Pizza has a fantastic recipe and reputation. I enjoy the quiet, small-town atmosphere and respect their longstanding dedication to the Fargo-Moorhead community. And, when you prepare thousands of steaks per week, it’s wonderful to kick back and enjoy something different.
I walk into Duane’s House of Pizza, an unofficial Fargo landmark by most locals, and just inside the door, a pizza chef is spinning and flouring dough, placing toppings and running their pizza wheel across hot bubbling cheese to craft their notorious “party cut” square slices, right before sliding it into a branded white paper sleeve. Legend has it that the paper sleeve, or as us Midwesterners call it, paper bag, keeps your pizza fresh and crispy much longer than a cardboard box. I won’t argue with that.
I choose a booth by the window—the irony of that being my most requested seat at Spanky’s Stone Hearth, facing the kitchen so I can take in the view and watch them practice their craft. I’m greeted by a friendly and familiar server who asks if I’m ready to order. I order a Pepsi and a pepperoni pizza. Oh, wait. “Let’s do an order of garlic bread with cheese”—my kids’ favorite item to enjoy while we wait for our pie.
Not long after I pour my Pepsi over ice the bread arrives. Just as I thought—perfectly cooked with just enough garlic flavor and topped with toasted mozzarella cheese. I look outside and see traffic pick up a bit as it nears 12:00 PM, better known as the “lunch hour” buzz. The pizza recipe isn’t the only thing that has aged-well. Situated on a popular corner of University Drive, across the street from a longstanding hospital and just mere blocks from Interstate 94, the location is convenient, easy to spot.
I look up and my pizza has arrived, I dig right in. The cornicione crust-edge crunches to perfection, while still being light and soft on the inside. The thin crust is balanced with tomato sauce and pepperonis hiding under slices of melted mozzarella cheese. The slices allow the cheese to cover the pizza in the best way possible, offering up the same flavors in each bite.
While a simple pepperoni pizza is my favorite, don’t shy away from trying the House Special or adding sauerkraut to the canadian bacon pie. They have a great selection of specialty pizzas and toppings to create your own masterpiece. With a perfectly engineered recipe, attentive staff and a talented kitchen—don’t sleep on this Fargo classic.