Drives to Denver in the middle of the day are usually predictably mellow and stress-free. Traffic is light, and if it slows down, I can switch to “Toll” on my transponder. Except this past Thursday, when a couple of cars piled into the concrete barrier and/or each other on Davidson Mesa, and traffic backed up behind the accident. I’m betting that one or both drivers were texting of jabbering on their phones.
I was irritated, because I was heading for Bar Dough, Max McKissock’s highly praised restaurant in LoHi for a brunch preview. I arrived after the other guests had done damage to several of the dishes. What was left looked good, and what was served from then on was delicious and beautifully presented.
We came through Alamosa around lunch time on a blowy, snowy Friday. A pizza place next to a bowling alley would not usually be our first choice, but with the weather and the prospect of fogged-in La Veta Pass, the San Luis Valley Pizza Company seemed like a reasonable choice.
The big pizza that amply served three ended up being better than I’d anticipated. A salad bar was a bonus, because I was really feeling vegetable-deprived.
And then, we hit the road again to drive over La Veta Pass in a cloud.
Price check: “Gourmet pizzas come in three sizes (12, 14 and 16 inches) and cost from $14 for a simple small pie to $25 for a large loaded one.
It’s not like there’s a shortage of pizza places in Boulder — or that there’s a shortage of fast-casual spots with sleek design at Twenty Ninth Street. But PizzaRev, the first and so far only location of a California chain, has a neat gimmick.
In addition to the kids’ menu, there’s one size of pizza (11 inches), a choice of thee sauces (plus olive oil), 11 meats and 17 veggies. No extra charge for any number and combination of toppings. The thin-crust pizza bakes quickly and to almost cracker-like edges.
I liked the availability of side and entrée salads, and if we hadn’t used a BOGO coupon, I’d have tried one of those too.
Price check: One-cheese pizza, $5.99; Craft Your Own or Our Way pizzas, or Craft Your Own entrée salad, $8.25; kids’ meal (children 9 and under; kid-size pizza, apple sauce or Oreos, milk or apple juice box), $5.99; side salads, $3.99; desserts, $1.99-$3.99.
Pizza Rev is located at 1650 28th Street, Boulder; 303-444-1122.
Pizzeria Locale, Frasca’s quick-serve pizza offshoot, appears on national list.
The Daily Meal, a national foodie site, just released its selection of the “101 Best Pizzas in America 2015.” Colorado makes is customary token appearance on a “best” list. Here’s what the site wrote about Boulder’s Pizzeria Locale, accompanied by an image of a thin-crust pie made of exceptional dough (topped with mozzarella: pecorino, fontina, porcini, roasted white mushroom, garlic and shallot) and baked hot until the crust becomes slightly charred and served unsliced to be eaten with knife and fork:
“It shouldn’t be surprising that Frasca, one of America’s best restaurants, launched an offshoot that serves some of the best pizza in the country. What happens now that restaurateurs Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson have teamed up with Chipotle to launch the restaurant as a fast-casual concept, however, remains to be seen.
“There seems to be a thought out there that America needs a high-quality fast-casual Neapolitan pizza chain. Maybe it’s true that there’s a gap in a market dominated by somnambulant franchises that have been content to churn out doughy, overly sweet-sauced gut-bombs for years. Maybe there’s really nothing wrong with the idea of rotational hearth ovens powered by gas and infrared that take the human element out of cooking. Or maybe Americans will think pizza from a fast-casual spot should be able to be eaten with one hand and without a knife or fork, you know, like what New Yorkers would call “a slice.” What has been made clear so far is that this self-described contemporary pizzeria inspired by the traditional pizzerias of Naples knows how to bring it.
“The full-service Pizzeria Locale in Boulder serves 14 pies (seven each white and red), among them the funghi, which, for $20, you can next-level with Umbrian black summer truffle. The menu at the “quick-serve” Pizzeria Locales in Denver (where there are two), Kansas City, and soon Cincinnati features 10 11-inch pies that are a little more mainstream (though a version of the mais pizza with sweet corn, ham, crème fraîche, and garlic did make the cut). But you can craft your own interesting combos with their 25 toppings.”
What surprised me: Five honorees from my native Connecticut that appear on the list are the plain pie (no cheese) from Roseland Apizza in Derby, the plain pie (slices of fresh tomato) from Ernie’s Pizza in New Haven, Domenick and Pia’s pepperoni in Waterbury, mashed potato and bacon (what!?!) from Bru Room at BAR in New Haven, special (mozzarella, mushroom, sausage and marinara) at Zuppardi’s Pizza in West Haven, the Italian Bomb (bacon, sausage, pepperoni, garlic, mushroom, pepper, tomato, onion and mozzarella) at Modern Apizza in New Haven and tomato pie (no cheese) at Sally’s Apizza in New Haven. Sally’s neighbor and perennial rival, Frank Pepe’s, is mysteriously absent this year.
Neapolitan-style pizza always pleases, but wine disappointed two ways.
When we’re just feeling like pizza, we pick it up from Nick-N-Willy’s around the corner and bake it at home. But sometimes, we head out for a designer pizza, and when we do, there’s no better place in Boulder than the flagship Pizzeria Locale. The crust, satisfyingly chewy with an undeniably fine flavor, is charred just enough. They bake it in for just 90 seconds an astonishing imported pizza oven. No matter which topping I’ve chosen, it has never disappointed.
The wine, however, this time was a surprising disappointment. I ordered a budget-friendly $6.50 glass of Valpolicella. It was not very good– astringent, a tad metallic and almost medicinal. I swirled it, let it breathe and took another sip. Same result. I asked my husband, who had ordered a birra, to taste it. He had the same reaction. I asked the waitress for a trade-in. She properly asked me what kind of wines I like and brought me a wonderful replacement. She didn’t mention that it cost nearly twice as much as the original. It’s not that the $5 or so will make or break us, but it’s the principle. And I wouldn’t think twice about it, were Locale not a sister restaurant to Frasca Food & Wine with all the meticulous attention to detail that implies.
Having shared that with you, here are images of our two fine pizzas:
Price check: Pizzas that generously serve one or, with addition of a starter or a salad, are fine for two, $9-$16.
We’re spending a few days in Greece, a country I’ve long wanted to visit. This isn’t a culinary trip of any sort — just making some of the regular tourist rounds. No fancy restaurants. No high culinary fare. House wines are just fine. But everything we’ve eaten has been fresh and good.
I thought eating in Greece would be more of a problem for my husband, who does not like much in the way of seafood, many vegetables or feta cheese. But Greece’s abundant Italian dishes more than save many a meal. They appear on every menu, and he said that he likes them better than the Italian food he had in Italy last fall. I keep ordering Greek dishes. Here’s a sampling of what we’ve encountered thus far:
There was more wine (mine, usually), beer (my husband’s always) and more food, but this is a sampling — so far.
Chef-driven neighborhood hangout in Boulder’s Peleton.
Every time I go to Basta, I marvel at the riskiness of the venture and admire its success. This hard-to-find restaurant is located within the “courtyard” of an apartment complex called The Peleton, which had the misfortune of being built when the housing market was dragging. Even with many units vacant for a long time, fans of chef/owner Kelly Whitaker, who has cooked around Boulder, found the obscure place. The word got out about his artisanal pizzas, salumi, cheese selection and, of all dishes, chicken sensationally roasted in that wood oven. Now, dinnertime is buzzingly busy, even on a weeknight.
Since I was last there, far too long ago, the run-of-the-mill, black-topped tables and pale chairs have been replaced by hefty custom furniture made from reclaimed oak. I wish I had remembered to take a photo. But the noise level was way high, and concentrating on conversation and taking some food shots was all I could manage. It was noisier than before, I think, because the restaurant is far fuller when I was there previously. The other evening, my husband, two out-of-town friends and I ordered items to share — for which the menu is especially well suited.
Basta also has a pizza called Cart – Driver, which is the name of a new restaurant opening in the not too distant future in Denver, at 25th and Larimer where the Ballpark Neighborhood and RiNo meet. Its inspiration is the quick-service stop along the Italian autostrade. Also, a pop-up café called correctedCoffee is currently utilizing Basta’s pizza oven for baking and occupying the dining space on weekday mornings.
Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.