Denver's six best pizzas
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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