Maybe it’s a sign of our growing interest in locally sourced, handmade fare or simply a result of our growing culinary sophistication, but there’s an amazing artisanal pizzeria boom arising in Boulder and the North Metro area.
What makes pizza artisanal? Chefs often make them, not college students, and you eat them at or near the restaurant. The dough’s made by hand from basic quality ingredients and generally hand-stretched, not put through a flattening roller. It’s usually cooked in a high-temperature oven, preferably wood-fired, but some are gas-fired. The toppings can include fresh mozzarella, hand-made sopressata (instead of pepperoni), fresh herbs and vegetables with a simple red sauce or just oil and garlic.
Real pizzas like these are almost never sold by the slice—each person gets a whole, thin-crusted pie. It is never thick or drowning in toppings and congealed cheese. With its lightly charred edges and bright herbs, it’s a thing of beauty, not to mention yummy. It’s what pizza started out as. Yes, it’s more expensive and yes, it’s worth it…if you like that kind of pizza. More on that below.
Here’s just some of what’s going on in our local pizza universe:
Lucky Pie Pizza has opened at 637 Front St. in Louisville’s former post office.
Award-winning chef Jim Cohen of the The Empire Lounge in Louisville is opening Empire Pizza in November next to Larkburger at 2525 Arapahoe Ave. in Boulder. Opening nearby: Backcountry Pizza and Tap House, 2319 Arapahoe Ave.
Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder is adding a separate café as well as real Naples-style pizzeria using only ingredients imported from Italy. Opening in November, it will be operated by former Frasca staff.
They join a crowded field of competitors headed by the first class Pizzeria Basta in Boulder where chef/owner Kelly Whitaker uses only local and American ingredients. Just recently opened are Boulder Organic Pizza and Martino’s in Lafayette dishing pies alongside such longstanding favorites as Ristorante Laudisio, Zamparelli’s in Lafayette, and Proto’s (various locations).
Finally, we note the closing of the restaurant that helped start the wood-fired pizza movement in Boulder. The 22-year-old 14th Street Grill has served its last pie from its wood-burning oven and final platter (sigh!) of its open-faced roast turkey sandwich.
Listen, I’m part Sicilian. I grew up in New England eating the finest Italian-American pizza. I’ve tasted virtually every other permutation in the pizza universe including Argentinean and they all have their virtues. Any time I have been foolish enough to start naming the best pizza joints, some good ones will be left out. Please don’t yell. Instead, taste the pies at the places named above and support the local economy. When you’re done with your research, email me a few words about your favorite pizzeria at email@example.com. I’ll pass along the results in a column. I will also reveal the place I picked when USA Today recently asked me to name The Best Pizza Joint in Colorado.
Open & Closed
Fiesta Mexitalian Restaurant has opened at 2350 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, former site of Rincon Del Sol and Turley’s. …Eggloo Delights is serving Asian fare at 3033 28th St., Boulder, previously the location for Siamese Plate on the Go.
…Pica’s Mexican Taqueria has opened at 5360 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder. …The owners of Lafayette’s Magnolia Restaurant & Sushi Bar have opened kaTcH, a quick casual fish house, on Capitol Hill in Denver. …Kim & Jake’s Cakes has opened at 641 S. Broadway in the back part of Table Mesa. Cake flavors include tres leches, vegan chocolate, chocolate Bailey’s and strawberry margarita.
…7West Pizzeria & Pub, 526 Main St. in Longmont has opened that city’s first rooftop deck. …Coming soon: Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, 2250 Main St., Longmont.
We were saddened this summer to hear of the passing of Lyman White, co-founder of Longmont’s Cheese Importers in 1976. He helped build a thriving food business, improved all of our taste buds and was a consistent supporter of non-profits in the area. He will be missed. …The Sister Carmen Community Center in Lafayette is making a special appeal for food donations. Contact: sistercarmen.org… It’s a very bountiful year for Colorado’s sweet peach crop. Buy a bunch of ripe ones from Palisade while you can. Put them in simmering water long enough to slip the skin off. Cut in halves and freeze on a cookie sheet and bag to be used later for pie, roast pork filling and smoothies… Boulder’s New Planet Gluten-Free Beer has released its 3R Raspberry Ale made with sorghum and corn. …And at this date, there’s still no kombucha at local markets after all such products were pulled from the shelves for re-labelling. Stay tuned…
ON THE MENU
Among the tastiest things I’ve sampled recently at Boulder County and North Metro eateries are: Cornish hen with lemons and olives, grilled merguez sausage, couscous, eggplant salad, mint tea and chocolate b’stella at Kasbah Moroccan Restaurant, 300 S. Public Rd, Lafayette; handmade steamed buns middled with shredded pork, plus gingery pot stickers, and pearl meatballs at Zoe Ma Ma, 2010 10th St., Boulder; and cool, subtly seasoned watermelon tomato gazpacho at Hosea Rosenberg’s StrEat Chefs Airstream kitchen parked in Downtown Boulder. Succulent Vit Quay Don—crispy duck with sautéed vegetables in garlic-wine sauce, at Chez Thuy, 2655 28th St., Boulder.
Colorado Winery Row, home to Bonacquisti, Cottonwood Cellars, Olathe, Garfield Estates and Verso Cellars wineries at 4640 Pecos St. in Denver, hosts a concert with wine tasting Aug. 20. Information: Coloradowineryrow.com… Frasca hosts a four-course local harvest dinner with favorite summer wines Aug. 30 before it closes for a month of renovations. 303.442.6966. …Braised Kurobata pork cheeks and Hakuri turnips paired with Brabant Barrel Aged Zinfandel Ale is on the menu for the Flagstaff House Avery Beer dinner Sept. 14. Reservations: 303.442.4640. …Plan ahead: Get your tickets now if you want to are planning to attend the Great American Beer Festival Sept. 16-18 in Denver. Long gone are the days when you could buy tickets at the door. Information: greatamericanbeerfestival.com. Now is also the time to secure your reservations for the wonderful holiday season teas at the Hotel Boulderado. Reservations: 303.442.4344. …Calling all professional pie-makers! I’ll be among the judges on hand for a big pie contest Sept. 3 at Denver’s annual Taste of Colorado. Radio food show host Pat Miller is hosting the competition at the Greek Amphitheater in Civic Center Park. The category is simply your favorite and best pie. If you’re interested in entering the contest, contact me at: Nibbles@yellowscene.com.
…For more on food locally and nationally, consult the Nibbles Food Trend Blog: johnlehndorff.wordpress.com.
You can put ‘em in a salad, put ‘em in a stew / You can make your own, very own tomato juice / You can eat ‘em with eggs, you can eat ‘em with gravy / You can eat ‘em with beans, pinto or navy / Put em on the side, put em on the middle / Home grown tomatoes on a hot cake griddle.
—Homegrown Tomatoes, Guy Clark