Udi's Colfax Pizza Bar taking over the former Encore space
While Paul Reilly, the former executive chef/owner of Encore on Colfax, continues to search for a new pad to perch a restaurant, the space he left behind at 2550 East Colfax Avenue, will soon have a familiar tenant: Udi, Etai and Robin Baron, of the Udi's empire, which includes seven restaurants, a bakery and a catering company, have snapped up the square footage, and, in late October, they'll open Udi's Colfax Pizza Bar.
Lori Midson The new Udi's Colfax Pizza Bar plans to make their Arvada pies part of the lineup.
"We signed the deal a few weeks ago," says Etai, "but we looked at this space years ago, pre-Tattered Cover and pre-Encore, and we passed on it, because we weren't in a good position back then to take on a big restaurant like this." But after recently selling Udi's Gluten-Free Foods to Smart Balance for $125 million, the family is in a position to spread the bread. "We're ready for it now, and we have Udi's Pizza Cafe Bar, a successful pizza restaurant in Arvada already, and this is going to be very similar to what we're doing there," he adds.
And since Reilly left the restaurant in great condition, according to Etai, the quarters don't require much of a makeover. "The space is beautiful as it is, so there isn't a lot of work to be done" -- and that includes the kitchen, which comes equipped with wood-fired pizza ovens, a deciding element in the decision-making process to sign the lease. And Robin, who will be the opening chef, plans to make the most out of it, turning out more than a dozen artisan pizzas, using the dough recipe that was given to the Baron family by the baker at Forno Campo de Fiori, a holy food mecca in Rome.
"We're members of the Bread Bakers Guild of America -- all of the best artisan bakeries are -- and a few years ago, we were in New York at a place called the Sullivan Street Bakery, and Jim Lahey, the bread baker and owner, told us that he'd gotten this great recipe from a bakery in Italy, and, as it turns out, Nancy Silverton got the recipe, too, and now we're all using the same dough recipe from this amazing little bakery in Rome," says Etai, adding that the Roman dough is "why we got into the pizza-making business."
And the secret to the crust, he adds, is the fermentation process. "We pre-ferment the dough for 24 hours, and then it ferments for another 24 hours in the refrigerator," he reveals, noting that the result is "more of a baker's dough: It's chewier, breadier and has a rich crust," he says.