Wednesday, July 24, 2013

O'Neill's Pizza Pub (Rochester, MN)

O'Neill's "new" location in the Crossroads Shopping Center
July 2013

I love O'Neill's Pizza Pub.  Besides that I really love the pizza, the additional reasons are listed below in my original review of the pub in 2006. We continued to go to O'Neill's after Dan received his heart transplant for the additional six years Dan lived in town, but my wife and I don't get there much since his passing.

My bias for O'Neill's is clear and unabashed. However, back in the day with Dan, we tried restaurants all over town and nearly every slice of pizza. Our group honestly returned to O'Neill's because we preferred their food, beer list and friendly atmosphere. Luckily, my speech coach friends indulge my obsession to stop here, so we will have business and/or social meetings over pizza at the pub. Also, local friends agree that the pizza is unique and go there for "German Club" (code for an after school teacher happy hour), independent of my influence. So, I feel somewhat justified that my bias isn't just about nostalgia.

So, please stop by O'Neill's (any day but Sunday or Monday when closed) and help keep my favorite pub in Rochester serving great pizza and beer for a very long time.

BeerAdvocate review from 9/16/2006
My nephew Dan was in Rochester waiting for a heat transplant for a year and a half. My wife and I traveled from the Twin Cities to see him every Wednesday during that time, and for about nine months of it we went to O'Neill's for pizza, beer, and edited Dan's poetry (now a self published collection). With that said, I think O'Neill's is one of the most unique restaurants I've ever been and, obviously, one of my favorites.

I rarely miss the opportunity to have beer and pizza at O'Neill's when in Rochester.
O'Neill's bar area.  Free pizza set out at happy hour
Here's why. The beer list is excellent. Not as big as either Whistle Binkies, but well chosen and fresh. I've never once had a stale beer, bottle or draft, in the times I've visited. On my last visit, there were eight drafts ranging from Kul Lite to Mojo IPA, and, as an Irish Pub, Guinness, Bass, and Smithwick's are par for the course. Always a consistent range of bottles including Victory Golden Monkey, Sleeman, several Rogue, Hazed and Infused, Murphy's, Wexford Irish Creme, Kostritzer, Weihenstephaner, Erdinger, Wittekerke, Kwak, Orval, Tilburg Brown Ale, Lindemans Framboise, Belhaven's Twisted Thistle and a few others. The list doesn't change much, but sometimes the bottled beers will show up on tap. It's a carefully crafted selection of beers that sell well with few changes over time.

Now the food. The first pizza here we had was a Greek pizza with feta, tomatoes, and black olives. In the original location (moved recently), Irish and Greek flags flew in the rafters. And it is probably the only Irish Pub that you can have baklava for dessert. Evidently, one of the O'Neill daughters married into Greek cuisine. Our "usual" is a Golden Monkey for myself, a Kostritzer for my wife, a Triple-Double (our name, not O'Nei'll's, for double crust, double sauce, double cheese) and baklava for dessert. The pizza sauce is the heart of it, sweet and tasty, very different than an Italian style oregano and basil sauce. Not sure what it is, but it is very unique and good. We enjoy our multi-continent meal several times a year when we visit my nephew, who lives and goes to school in Rochester now and is doing well with his new heart
Even wrote an ode. Irish for Pizza is a T-shirt slogan of ONeills that I borrowed for the title. Allison no longer works there (graduated and joined the service), but we've kept some contact and we were still recognized when we had a Greek pizza yesterday for lunch.

My expository poem from Do chicks really dig scars?, a collection of poems written by Dan and revised by me. Click on the Poetry tab on the blog's home page for a link to buy our book.  

Irish for Pizza
Restaurant seating

ONeills Pizza Pub, family run, marked only
by a small yellow neon sign, an Irish pub with
Greek food (both flags fly from the rafters) and
an Irish/German/American beer list worthy of
   Slainte!      Prosit!      and        Cheers!

A daughters marriage, we were told, changed the
menu so that ordering baklava with Guinness or a
hefeweizen as dessert to a feta cheese pizza with
tomatoes and olives, somehow, makes great sense.

Every Wednesday night, our ill-formed group
(get itDan's sick, illness formed...…never mind)
picks the center booth, puts quarters quickly in
the jukebox, and then, we wait not-so-patiently for
Draft list on last visit in June 2013
Johnny Cash to rumble out Ring of Fire.

Allison, our Supergirl waitress, as much a part
of Wednesdays with Dan as we are, takes our
high maintenance order:

a Schwarzbier for Aunt Gloria, triple-double pizza
(double crustdouble cheeseand always double
of their Oh! so sweet Greek pizza sauce), best beer
on this week's list for Uncle Cal, soda and poetry
for Dan, and whatever conversation that's on tap.

When Dan went back in the hospital, briefly, we
even ordered a pizza to-go, an excuse to tell Allison
that Dan's ok, just couldn't make it that week, tied
up with hospital tubing and an infection.

We came for pizza and a pub, and stayed for a big
booth with quiet nights to write and laugh and cry
(some tears happy, some sad) with great food and
fine drink and people who carea sense of home
in a very hard time.

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