In one of Fargo-Moorhead’s most eclectic strip malls, squeezed between a gym and a liquor store, down from a quasi-Irish bar and a health market, there’s yet another option to cure late-night hunger pangs: Sarpino’s Pizzeria.
Due east of the south Moorhead Dairy Queen on 30th Avenue, it blends right in between a sprawling suburban parking lot and an empty field overripe for development.
Sarpino’s, which opened last year, is a take-out and delivery outfit – a chain with a gourmet twist. And, for no surcharge, it delivers its array of eats throughout the immediate metro area, from the southernmost depths of West Fargo to the most eastern easts of Dilworth. On a recent night, I chose take out.
With only four chairs, two tables and no bathroom, it was clear that Sarpino’s is a place to retrieve food, not consume it. The sterile lighting, wallpapered menu and efficiency of the operation made it obvious this was a franchise, while comforting me that I would be getting a quality product.
The menu goes beyond most pizza purveyors, with sandwiches, pastas, calzones, salads and desserts. The clerk said the sandwiches, such as the Sarpino’s meatball classic and chicken club sandwich might be the best items on the menu, but he conceded that Sarpino’s is primarily a pizza joint.
The pizza options exhibit more creativity and variety than Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, Godfather’s and other franchised competitors. The Pizza Santorino, for example, combines gyro meat, olives, onions, tomatoes and feta on a bed of olive oil. It also employs something called “Sarpino’s gourmet cheese blend,” which reappears throughout the menu.
For vegetarians, there’s several options, including a white, olive-oil based pizza and a pesto-based choice.
The store also has 44 different toppings that can be mixed and matched in nearly infinite ways for a custom pizza. If black olives or green olives just won’t suffice, how about Kalamata olives? They’ve got that.
Upon the advice of the friendly and helpful pizza man, I chose the decadent New York Deli specialty pizza – a protein packed top-seller. After less than 10 minutes, I left the store with a 10-inch pizza, (about $12) heaping with ground beef, pepperoni, salami, Canadian bacon and sausage. As if the meal wasn’t unhealthy enough, the pizza man tossed in some jalapeno ranch dipping sauce, one of 12 options.
With specimen in hand, I swiftly went to a friend’s house for careful analysis. Picking up the first slice, I immediately noticed how greasy the pizza was. But it tasted delicious, with an excellent ratio of cheese, meat, crust and sauce. The cheese was diverse and flavorful. The pan crust was just the right depth. The sauce had a tinge of sweetness, which balanced the extreme saltiness of the plentiful meats.
Sarpino’s seems like the perfect pizza to impulsively order late on a weekend night, and its hours make that possible. It’s open until 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday and until midnight all other nights.
Considering the convenience and relative quality, Sarpino’s prices are fair. That might be due to the competitive Fargo-Moorhead pizza market. Although local stores, such as Pizza Nico’s, Duanes House of Pizza and Rhombus Guys produce a higher-quality product, Sarpino’s offers the best value among the area’s chain pizzerias.
For college students with an aversion to cooking, who are looking for a quick late-night calorie binge, Sarpino’s Pizzeria is worth checking out.
BY BRYCE HAUGEN