100 Favorite Dishes: wood-fired chicken from Pizzeria Basta

Lori Midson

Suffice it to say that I eat out more than the general population, unless, of course, the general population can catalogue more than 450 restaurant meals in a year -- which is about the number of breakfasts, lunches and dinners that I stomached in 2012. Pathetic, isn't it? But all those food dates are worth the gluttony, because it allows us to tell you where you should eat, a little favor that we started in late 2009, when we embarked on a culinary journey that took us through our favorite dishes in the Mile High City -- 100, to be exact. Now we're back with round three, counting down (in no particular order) 100 more of our favorite dishes in Denver (and Boulder). If there's something in particular that you think we need to try, reveal it in the comments section below, or shoot me an e-mail at lori.midson@westword.com.

No. 87: Wood-fired chicken from Pizzeria Basta

"Basta" translates to "enough" in Italian, and true to its name, the food at Pizzeria Basta, the Boulder restaurant that Kelly Whitaker opened in 2010, is never enough. It doesn't matter if it's his wood-fired pizzas, roasted vegetables, his lasagna or the wood-roasted chicken, this is the kind of food -- rustic, harmonious, beautifully seasoned -- that's wholly emblematic of pure passion, heart and soul.

See also:
- Kelly Whitaker, exec chef of Pizzeria Basta, on faith and his new restaurant
- Round two with Pizzeria Basta's Kelly Whitaker: "When did we stop being the cook?"
- Round three with Kelly Whitaker: "Hospitality is about serving people -- not yourself"

For the record, I'm not a huge fan of the hen, and on most occasions, when servers recite the chicken specials, I cringe; when it see it on menus, I audibly bawk. Chicken, for the most part is, well, just chicken. There are exceptions, of course, including Whitaker's roasted chicken, which roosts far and above its competition. Nowhere else that I can think of -- in Denver or Boulder -- makes such an ordinary bird soar quite like Whitaker. The fowl is thumped with salt and fragrant fresh herbs before it's compressed in Whitaker's Cryovac machine, and the result is impossibly tender flesh that doesn't require a knife, a fork or sharp teeth. He finishes it in the wood-fired oven, stoked with oak, and when it emerges, it's the hue of caramel, its salty sheet of skin so crackly that you wonder if it might shatter. All I know is that it's never enough.

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2013 countdown are linked below:

No. 100: Foie gras oysters from Sushi Sasa
No. 99: Porchetta from Parisi
No. 98: chocolate caramel sea salt tart from Spuntino
No. 97: Nachos from the Pioneer
No. 96: Fried pickles from TAG Burger Bar
No. 95: Breakfast burrito from Jalapeños Mexican restaurant
No. 94: Jajangmyeon from Yong Gung Dragon Palace Chinese Restaurant
No 93: French fries from Jonesy's EatBar
No. 92: Fried rice from Benihana
No. 91: Lobster macaroni and cheese from Mizuna
No. 90: Schezuan beef in numbing chile oil from Chef Liu's Authentic Chinese Cuisine

No. 89: lamb tartare from Epernay
No. 88: Reuben from the Bagel Deli

Location Info


3601 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, CO

Category: Restaurant

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My lord, that's a gorgeous looking piece of chicken.  I'll have to tear myself away from the cart driver pizza long enough to try it next time I'm there.

Barak M Webb
Barak M Webb

Santiago's breakfast burritos. The best and awesome price :)


I mentioned some of my favorites in the comments here ( http://blogs.westword.com/cafesociety/2013/03/100_favorite_dishes_chocolate_caramel_sea_salt_tart_from_spuntino.php ) , but I've recently discovered a couple of others:

- The "Chicken Fried Eggs and Smoked Buffalo Hash" at Sassafras is easily my favorite breakfast dish in Denver.  The two titular components are both pretty amazing, but it's the fresno chile hollandaise that sets it over the top.  Best hollandaise I've ever had.  Everything on the menu is pretty incredible.

-The chicken & waffles from The Pink Tank.  I eat chicken and waffles anywhere that serves it, and am addicted to this particularly eccentric take after discovering it earlier this month.  I just wrote a comment about it on the blog's "best chicken & waffles" article.

I think you've written about the xlb at Lao Wang on a previous iteration of this list, but their unusual and freakishly delicious potstickers probably deserve a mention too.

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