Friday, October 03, 2008

Pizza: Denver Style

Okay, let's be realistic. There's no such thing as Denver-style pizza. This isn't New York, Chicago, or Naples. I think that's precisely what makes Denver a great town for a true pizza lover, though. If you're in Chicago, you're going to have a tough time finding that crispy crust you crave in a New York-style pizza. If you're in Naples, good luck hunting down a thick, stuffed pie. You're stuck with what that city has to offer, which is great if you're a purist. I'll be the first to admit, I am no pizza purist. A bit of a snob, maybe, in that I only like GOOD pizza (I'll pass on that $5 Little Caesar's crap- I'm never that desperate). If there was only "junk food" pizza on offer, I'd probably give it up for life. I like crust that's misshapen and hand-tossed, toppings with personality, and sauce that would be delicious all by itself. I won't say no if you don't cook it in a wood oven, but that's my preference.

But enough about me.

I was going to do a round-up of the best places in Denver, but I visited a place that made me stop in my tracks. Frankly, after eating Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza, I couldn’t go anywhere else.

Call me a skeptic, but I absolutely did not believe the hype about this place right after it opened. First off, I've never heard of pizza cooked over coal. Second, this place is not in a neighborhood you'd expect to find a decent restaurant. And the reviews were all far too good to be true. I had to get there as soon as possible and see for myself. It's true that Marco's neighbors aren't much to look at- a pawn shop and a bunch of empty buildings- but as soon as you glimpse into the big glass windows, you'll know it's a different world inside. The interior is warm and open, with a big bar and little pots of herbs on each table. Directly to the back are the behemoth ovens used to cook up the pizzas. The menu is split into Neapolitan style pizzas and more traditional "American" styles. I went straight for the Abruzzi Neapolitan-style, a mélange of cheeses. What arrived was simple and utterly fantastic. Every bite was pure joy, from the crispy, smoky crust to the tangy, melty toppings. Marco uses only the finest ingredients, including specially-imported flour. Don’t forget to try the crispy, baked wings either! I could eat this for the rest of my life.

Alright, so I have eaten other pizza in Denver, and man (or woman) cannot live on Marco’s alone (as much as I would love to). Here are some other places worth trying:

The Walnut Room- Everyone recommends the Walnut, but I really like the Mean Green Supreme and Bourbon BBQ also. They also serve cheap PBR, which is a major plus in my book.

Buenos Aires Pizzeria- Don’t confuse this with the much-swankier Buenos Aires restaurant just up the street. Also be sure to supplement the pizza with some of their famous empanadas- yum!

Edgewater Inn- Some people think the Edgewater Inn’s pizza is overhyped, but I love it for its simplicity. It’s good old-fashioned pizza done right, no frills.