Patxi Azpiroz, chef of Patxi's Pizza, on eating fried worms and pesto pizza proposals

Patxishot1.jpg
Lori Midson

Patxi Azpiroz
Patxi's Pizza
3455 South University Boulevard,
Englewood; 303-783-2000
185 Steele Street; 303-331-1000
www.patxispizza.com

This is part one of my interview with Patxi Azpiroz, exec chef/owner of Patxi's Pizza; part two of our conversation will run tomorrow.

Denver lays claim to an infinite number of pizza joints, but deep-dish Chicago-style pizzas, the kind that the Windy City goes crazy for at pie palaces like Lou Malnati's, Giodarno's and Gino's, are few and far between in the Mile High City.

See also:
- First look: Patxi's Pizza will start flipping pies in Cherry Creek on Monday
- Exclusive first look: Patxi's Pizza opens in Englewood
- Our ten best pizzas in Denver (and Boulder)

But Patxi Azpiroz, executive chef and co-owner of Patxi's, which has locations in Cherry Creek and Englewood, is setting out to change that. "My first job was as a dishwasher at a pizza place called Zachary's in San Francisco," recalls Azpiroz, who opened his first eponymous pizza parlor in Palo Alto, California, in 2004. "I worked my way up from dishwasher all the way through to a senior manager and learned just about everything there was to know about pizza" -- including, he says, deep-dish. But he wanted to learn more, so after a dozen years with Zachary's -- and making, he admits, "a ton of money" -- he took the money and ran...to Chicago, where deep-dish pizza is sacred.

He had met his current business partner, Bill Freeman, right after high school, and the two stayed in touch. Both, admits Azpiroz, were enraptured by deep-dish pizza. "Bill and I wanted to evolve the concept at Zachary's, but the owners weren't interested, and we eventually figured out that we could do it ourselves -- and do it better," he remembers. The two twenty-somethings took off for Chicago to investigate the real deal, flying back and forth from San Francisco to check out what real Chicago-style pizza was all about. "I wanted to see how it was done firsthand, and while we were doing research, I realized that I could do the same pizzas in a new, elevated way," says Azpiroz.

He and Freeman began ironing out a business plan -- one that was environmentally sound, focused on fresh, high-quality ingredients and advocated hospitality. And then Azpiroz got to work. "I started baking pizzas at home in my small San Francisco apartment, and I did that nonstop for almost two years," he says, sheepishly admitting that he was baking six pizzas a day, six days a week. "I'd get up super-early, make dough and sauce, head over to Berkeley Bowl -- their produce section is like a football field -- to get my ingredients, come home and play with the doughs and make different sauces, and then we'd invite everyone I knew to come over and try the pizzas."

Location Info

Patxi's Pizza

185 Steele St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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2 comments
Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

Had an OK experience at their Englewood location - a couple of problems but nothing terrible.  What amazed me was their customer service.  I was immediately contacted by the manager and offered a full refund on the pie and a gift card to boot which I really didn't expect or solicit.  No defensiveness - just a "sorry we didn't do things right" and we want to make it right.  Restaurants could learn a lot from Paxti's.  I will certainly return because of their very pro-active customer service.

monopod
monopod

Very excited to see an underrepresented pizza style (Chicago deep dish) making an appearance in Denver, and from a place that does it right (according to friends in San Francisco).  Now we just need a true New Haven-style place, a Detroit pan pizza place, and a really good bar pie and I'll be a happy man.

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