Second Helping: Pulcinella Pizzeria

Categories: Second Helpings

race pulcinella.jpg
Pulcinella Pizzeria and Wine Bar
Antonio Race, the owner of Pulcinella Pizzeria and Wine Bar
"I got my passion from Tony," Kelly Whitaker of Pizzeria Basta, which I reviewed this week, told me. "I carried that through everything else I did."

He was talking about Antonio Race, the native Italian who founded Pulcinella Ristorante in Fort Collins back in 1991; Whitaker got his kitchen start there. Over the years, Race's empire grew to include a half-dozen pizzerias and restaurants. But the original Fort Collins store closed a couple of years ago, as did one in LoDo and another in Lafayette. That left just a handful of pizzerias and the thirty-seat Pulcinella Pizzeria and Wine Bar, which opened in March 2010 with Cherry Hills Village's second-ever liquor license. (The third will go to Vino Vino, a wine shop connected to the restaurant via a punched-out section of one wall.)

Race is frequently behind the stoves of that south suburban outpost, visible from the marble bar and every seat in the dining room as he works dough into flat disks, washes them with tomato sauce and tops them with slices of imported mozzarella. He was there last week when I stopped in for lunch and a glass of Nero d'Avola, wandering out during momentary lulls to greet diners he knew or to carry a pie to a table. He may be the only pizza maker in the area who actually grew up by Naples, working in pizzerias and restaurants in Miliscola, his home town. And maybe because of that, he's not trying to re-create an exact replica of a Napolitano pizzeria in Cherry Hills Village.

"I think making true pizza Napolitana is impossible in Colorado," Race explains on his website. "You know why? You'd always miss one crucial ingredient -- the city itself!!!"
So his ingredients are a combination of domestic finds and imported staples, and he long ago abandoned the wood-fired oven because he was dissatisfied with the results, declaring futile any attempt to create an authentic Neopolitan crust here. And he'll defend that position with passion.

His margherita pizza was another winning argument. The crust was thin and crispy, the tomato sauce -- which Race makes from domestic tomatoes -- tangy, savory and show-stealing. Topped with bubbling mozzarella, thin strips of fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil, it was a delicious hybrid of several pizza styles: Neopolitan ingredients on a crust reminiscent of New York pies that was sliced for an American audience rather than left whole to be eaten with a fork and knife, as in Italy.

Pulcinella's pizzas are definitely unique. But you can see why Whitaker can draw in regulars with his zeal as well as his food: He learned it from his first boss.

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Location Info

Pino's Pizzeria & Wine Bar

1400 E. Hampton Ave., Englewood, CO

Category: Restaurant


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6 comments
AC
AC

Osteria Marco is the best pizza I've had in Denver.

terlaner
terlaner

Dear Linda, This particular topic is not about you. If you found "your best pizza in all of Italy in Sicily", you probably had too much wine and too much sun - both painfully dulling your palette and super-embellishing memories. Fork-n-knife into your statement from the person who travelled throughout the whole Italy. Please, do not misguide others who are yet to discover their "best pizzas". Unless you can pay airfares to prove your Sicilian point, I would recommend to readers to taste Pulcinella Cherry Hills fare -- truly best pizza in Denver, by all means!!! Not only by my standards; read other on-line forums.

Can you "outrageously" browse, Linda?

Guest
Guest

Dear Linda, This particular topic is not about you. If you found "your best pizza in all of Italy in Sicily", you probably had too much wine and too much sun - both painfully dulling your palette and super-embellishing memories. Fork-n-knife into your statement from the person who travelled throughout the whole Italy. Please, do not misguide others who are yet to discover their "best pizzas". Unless you can pay airfares to prove your Sicilian point, I would recommend to readers to taste Pulcinella Cherry Hills fare -- truly best pizza in Denver, by all means!!! Not only by my standards; read other on-line forums.

Can you "outrageously" browse, Linda?

Linda Wagner
Linda Wagner

I can't find a decent genuine Italian pizza anywhere. Nothing compares to pizza in Italy. Nothing. Thin, minimal outrageously delicious cheese on a thin crust that you need a fork and knife to cut. And while Naples gets the most press for great pizza, the best pizza in all of Italy is in Sicily.

Mantonat
Mantonat

You know what they say about Italian food in Italy - over there they just call it food. The green chile in Naples sucks though.

Great to see Pulcinella getting a little press. I remember eating at the original restaurant in Ft. Collins in the early 90's - what they were doing then was so far ahead of the rest of Ft. Collins, and probably much of Denver too.

Skipper
Skipper

hahaha. WOW Linda, what a helpful and poignant comment. turns out WE LIVE IN DENVER you half-wit. Denver hates you, and so does Italy.

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