I’m sure every review of Tossa Pizza so far has mentioned the glut of excellent pizzerias in Boulder (and I just made this one no exception), but interestingly, Tossa fills its own niche. It’s not fast food or delivery like Naked Pizza; it’s not white tablecloth like Pizzeria Locale. It’s something in between. And it works.
Started by Tom Ryan, creator of the Smashburger chain, Tossa is a fast-casual restaurant at lunch and a full-service experience at dinner. The menu isn’t vast, but it’s extensive enough that I certainly couldn’t try everything in my visits here, and encompasses small plates, pizzas in two sizes, salads, pastas and panini. A cleverly coded wine list offers reds and whites that have been pre-matched to the menu items so that you can order a paired red or white with any dish should you choose. (The suggested pinot grigio I had on my first visit was pleasantly dry and nicely matched to the pizza.)
Our favorites started with the harvest salad, topped with roasted chicken, goat cheese, dried cherries, apricots, figs and sunflower and pumpkin seeds. The combination was fresh, different enough to be surprising, and flavorfully balanced. Plus, I for one will be on the lookout for when they start selling bottles of their sundried tomato vinaigrette, as it was a highlight of the meal for me.
Another huge hit was the mushroom, truffle and arugula salad pizza. This white pizza is built on their signature “not too thick, not too thin” oval pizza crust and topped with parmesan, mozzarella, aged provolone, mushrooms and fresh basil beneath a bed of fresh arugula dressed in truffle oil and shaved parmesan. This pizza feels decadent and a bit healthy at the same time, what with all those fresh greens in the mix. A self-proclaimed mushroom-hater at my table nevertheless went back for seconds and thirds and didn’t even attempt to pick the mushrooms off. For someone with more classic tastes, the everything pizza didn’t disappoint, with piles of tasty sausage, pepperoni, roasted veggies and olives. We all enjoyed their custom blend of Italian cheeses, especially the provolone, which gave these pies an extra kick. Also impressive was the list of “contemporary” pastas made primarily with broth rather than a heavier traditional Italian sauce (though those dishes are available as well). My personal favorite was the lemon, pistachio and chicken with baby spinach and roasted mushrooms in a garlic broth. Light yet complexly flavorful and very satisfying.
The restaurant itself is nicer than I had expected, with upscale décor, and the service was mostly attentive and uneventful. Perhaps the most pleasantly surprising aspect was the prices. The quality of the food is higher than the prices would suggest, making this a wise choice for a quick lunch in Boulder or a more leisurely sit-down weeknight dinner. I was able to feed a hungry crowd of six at our office for around $30, including the tip, and everyone came back for seconds.