Denver's six best pizzas

pizbasta.jpg
Pizzeria Basta
You wouldn't believe us if we told you how many times we stuffed our piehole in our quest to find the city's best pizza in our lead-up to this year's Best of Denver issue, which, of course, included pizza -- several pizzas, as a matter of fact, starting with our best overall pick, which went to Pizzeria Basta, the Boulder pie palace owned by dough slinger Kelly Whitaker.

Pizza is one of our unapologetic obsessions, a fundamental staple in our daily diets; we eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and at a 2 a.m. when we want to stall an inevitable hangover. Thick crust, thin crust, or cracker crust; round, square, misshapen or supersized slices; paved with red sauce or white; topped with anchovies or apples, pizza may very well be the most beloved food in America.

And while Pizzeria Basta was this year's undisputed pizza champion, we couldn't simply stop there: Herewith, five more pizzas that we love best.

Brava! Pizza

Pie peddler David Bravdica's wood-fired pizza wagon is a 850-degree powerhouse of smoldering Missouri oak wood that produces thin-crusted, blistered, misshapen pies smeared with unadulterated San Marzano fruit and dabbed with orbs of creamy mozzarella. Our favorite is the Marky, a more than satisfactory pie that's crowned with pepperoni from Il Mondo Vecchio, which emerges crisp and curled when it's yanked from the oven.

Virgilio's Pizza

The straight-up, New York-style pizzas at Virgilio's, slippery with a judiciously herby and sweet tomato sauce and topped with housemade mozzarella, are simple pleasures that don't rely on flashy gimmicks or clever Californication approaches to hold your attention. You won't stumble upon chicory or pork belly, fingerling potatoes or porcini dust on the list of pizza toppings. Instead, you'll find classic ingredients that pizza purists hold sacred. We gravitate toward the margherita, a pure expression of cheese, garlic, fresh basil leaves and tomatoes.

Marco's Coal-Fired Pizzeria

Mark Dym's lovely pizzas, snatched from the smoke-filled, wood-burning ovens inside the open kitchens of his downtown and Vallagio at Inverness pizza emporiums, are gorgeous, restrained and endeavored to match a bedrock Neapolitan experience. The pizzas have ardent admirers -- and militant naysayers -- but we're fans of the soft, spongy crusts that are scorched in all the right places. We love the new deep-fried pizza, too, and can't wait to see what else Dym does with his fryer.

Ernie's Bar & Pizza

From the day it opened, Ernie's Bar & Pizza commanded maddening crowds. The fervor is still doing strong, as is our lust for the pizzas -- well-balanced, New York-style cheese bombs that keep getting better and better as Ernie's continues to ease into the fabric of the Sunnyside neighborhood. The crusts are skinny and chewy with a crisp bottom, the toppings remarkably fresh, the sauce simultaneously sweet and tart. We're particularly enamored with the prosciutto, oven-roasted tomato and arugula pizza, as well as the pie crowned with shrimp and capers.

Stingray

It's way, way way too new to be included in our Best of issue, but Stringray, which opened not quite a month ago in the former Gelman's space, is definitely a contender in Denver's pizza turf wars. The thin crust, paved with an herb-laden sauce, tricked-out with just the right amount of cheese that dribbles grease down your chin, and topped with high-quality ingredients, including local sausage from Polidori's, is fitting for piehole purists -- and anyone else who's hankering for an understated slice of heaven.

We know you have more favorites. Tell us what they are in the comments section.

More Best Of Denver Lists:
- Denver's five best restaurants for blind dates

- Top five martinis in Denver -- good, better, Best!

- Denver's five best burgers



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38 comments
Sjde
Sjde

Don't forget Parisi, Bacco Trattoria, even Brio. And McKinners for deep dish.

Pslade
Pslade

I was born in NYC, raised in Jersey, and am obsessed with pizza.  There are plenty of perfectly OK places around the area that I would classify as "good for here."  They're fine, they're pizza, but they're all fatally flawed somehow in truly representing what NY pizza is - the sauce is too sweet, there's too much cheese, the crust isn't right...whatever.  Something is off.  The one place I can wholeheartedly endorse is Big Bill's, at (of all places) County Line and Holly.  Bill is from Long Island, he brought one of his boys here to get the place going, and it's a legit NY-style pie.

As a pizza freak, I've made the pilgrimage to Naples, and can report that both Marco's and Locale do a decent Naples-style.  The Vera Napoletana people don't just give out those certs, and you have to pay to have them come over and conduct the evaluation.  I think the char and sauce are better at Marco's, but points to Locale for serving the pie unsliced with a knife and fork as is proper.

What we need now is for someone to do a Jersey style bar pie - ultra thin, well done, nice char, plenty of olive oil in the sauce.  Check out http://startavern.net for what I'm talking about.

Cavalier
Cavalier

LuckyPie Pizza is wayyy better than Marco's!!!!!

JD
JD

Joey's NY is excellent.

T!
T!

The Walnut Room. The Mile High with everything. Great crust, great sauce, great ingredients.

Guest
Guest

Thanks for the recommendations.

I know you can't go *everywhere* - but you went to Boulder for Basta, so since your search appears to not be limited to Denver

let me personally recommend "LuckyPie" http://www.luckypiepizza.com/in downtown Louisville in what once was the old Post Office building.

Great Margherita and other wood-fired pizzas, premium fresh ingredients cooked by someone who appears to know what they're doing, with amazing draught craft beers and killer prices for pizzas, meatballs, wings etc in appetizer portions with wine / beer combo deals at their happy hours.A great creamery / ice cream joint next door in the same building for dessert as well.

And no I don't own / work there or have any connection other than I just freakin' go there every chance I get. Thanks much for sharing, and when you get a chance you might try to get 'Lucky' some happy hour in Louisville.

Eligain
Eligain

Pizza is like sex; When it's good, it's great! When it's bad, it's not too bad.

Digler389dome
Digler389dome

COME ON FOLKS!!! CARLS ON 38th-FOLLOWED BY SUBWAY ON 38th & LIPANTHEN I CANT FORGET MY AMICI'S ON WADSWORTH AND 43rd!ANY THING ELSE YOU CAN ALL HAVE IT TO YOURSELF!!YOU CAN THROW ANY ORGANIC COMBINATION AND SMOOTHER IS WITH OVERPRICED HYPE. ITS STILL JUST A BUNK PIZZA!!

Mike
Mike

Bonnie Brae tavern has the best pizza I've had in Denver. Great tasting crust, sauce and toppings. Do yourself a favor and try it!

Monopod
Monopod

No love for Pizzeria Locale? Or Da Lupo? Both excellent and, I'd argue, the equal of Basta. Boulder's become quite the neopolitan pizza destination.

Agreed with others that while Protos used to be a worthy contender, the standard has risen and they haven't quite kept up.

Ian Morrison
Ian Morrison

Virgilio's FTW! But why did you leave out Fat Sully's?

moregarlic
moregarlic

Agreed that Fat Sully's and Mellow Mushroom should get honorable mentions. But Enzo's? Please! That place is major suckage. Ernie's, on the other hand, rocks the house. Excellent addition to the pizza sc-izz-ene!

Mr Anderson
Mr Anderson

Really?!? No Two Fisted Marios?? Who desides these lists?? I bet they lice in the suburbs :-)

MrsArtic
MrsArtic

I live in the suburbs and love Towfisted myself, thank you very much. Why hate on the suburbs? We surround you! :) Actually, twofisted and osterio both have the greatest pizza in town for completely different reasons. I actually prefer twofisted as it's not as greasy, but the pepper oil at osterio is fantastic. Maybe I'll steal the oil and take it over to twofisted, then it would be perrrrfect!

birth.golf.death.
birth.golf.death.

how can you leave off enzo's? if ignorance is bliss then the westword's list is heaven.

Sherri_lh
Sherri_lh

Marcos' pizza is too chewy, overpriced, and small not to mention served up by some pretentious wait staff. I'll give props to Virgillios only because of their tasty knots. However, their quality has seriously decreased over the past two years and I stopped eating there. What absolutely needs to be added to the list is Fat Sully's inside the Atomic Cowboy. You don't have to be a hipster to enjoy a large slice overhanging the plate with my favorite, sauteed onions. Plus, they deliever anywhere, even to a park bench.

AA
AA

Fat Sully's is fantastic! I crave their white pizza with sausage and black olives and have to have it at least once a week.

Peter
Peter

While there cannot be six 'best' places to eat one pizza; here is how I eat mine.

When I want to drink wine with my pizzas; I go to Trios Enoteca or Osterica MarcoWhen I want to drink beer with my pizzas; I go to Ernie'sWhen I want to take out; I bring home a Basil Doc's Pie or a Buenos Aires' PieWhen I am drunk in downtown; I eat at Two-Fisted Mario'sI will not eat Parisi's pizza even if it given for free - burnt water crackers with a smudge of tomato sauce and the thinnest possible pieces of ham - no thank you! and the conceit to write on the menu - no substitutions! Its a pizza!! How hard it can be to substitute tomatoes with peppers or bleu cheese with ricotta or hold the onions!Honorable Mention - Mellow Mushroom, when I want to watch sports AND drink beer

barslinger
barslinger

Virgilio's is good, but, very over rated. A pizza that is overlooked b/c it is more of a casual fine dining restaurant is Locanda Del Borgo!! Wood-fired and awesome just over looked b/c the rest of the food is the best Italian in Denver

David S.
David S.

Sazza. Definitely, Sazza. In Greenwood Village, and they use the best ingredients.

DrDrakeRemoray
DrDrakeRemoray

I know that the suburbs barely count as Denver, but if you are down at Lincoln and I-25, be sure to check out Via Baci. Italian flour and tomatoes and house made mozzarella.

Stephanie Simons
Stephanie Simons

Enzo's is fantastic, and you can get it delivered directly to your table in the PS Lounge! Really can't beat that.

MamaCeleste
MamaCeleste

Pantaleone's

Of course, it's not a scene where you can snarf down a slice at 2 a.m. with your waning buzz, or check out the latest and greatest tats or $400 jeans but, hands down, best pizza in Denver. You'll have to be seen at a strip mall on Holly south of Evans (oh, the HORROR!). Maybe it needs a fancier name to get on Westword's radar.

How about Pantaleone's Red Door Proletariat Brick Oven Pizza Urban Mangia Pork Carnival! ?

Aceranchero
Aceranchero

Thank you for not including Beau Jo's—there's a special place in Food Hell for that, uh, 'pie.' Went to the Oven once, was served a burnt cracker with something on top. Pass. Proto's is decent if you can put up with someone's butt in your face while you're trying to eat. Depends on the butt, I guess.

moregarlic
moregarlic

Benny Blanco's, you crazy Westword!

Jennytobin
Jennytobin

Um... BIG vote for two-fisted marios pizza! Not fancy pants like most of the others listed, just Good old fashioned strait up non stop rock n role pizza never letting me down. No fancy ingredients ('cept pineapple?). Purists. everything's made by hand there by a bunch of guys who take pride in their pizzability really seriously. Been there since time began. They're A good kind of strange, but I love talking to them -mostly about PIZZA! yummmmm= two-fisted!

Doug Y
Doug Y

Can't wait to try the obvious holes in my quest to fill my pie hole. Thanks!

Claudia
Claudia

Okay now I really need to go walk myself down to Stingray and try the pizza. I wonder if it can top Ernie's given that they are only six blocks away from one another? Ernie's is my favorite in the Highlands but sometimes it can be a little too salty.

Jessehall
Jessehall

The Oven for sure and Enzo's is right there

Star
Star

Where is the best deep dish in Denver, perhaps Chicago style?

Jeff
Jeff

Proto's, The Oven, Parisi, Pizza Republica, Osteria Marco for the real deal, and I'll take Enzo's End over Virgilio's for awesome NY style takeout pies any day.

davisbs999
davisbs999

you clearly have not been to Virgilio's. Enzo's is bitchin', but Virgilio's is the goods

eat
eat

Where's Two-Fisted Marios? They have the best crust in town, and their Shroom & Spin is awesome.

lipster
lipster

I couldn't disagree more with at least two of your above choices but will play nice and just add my favorites rather than lambast yours:Patsy's Basil Doc'sParisiProto'sMici

Jomama
Jomama

Any "best of denver pizza" list without Protos is obviously bs...

Claudia
Claudia

That may have been true 5 years ago but not today.

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