The hottest trends in the food world include pizzerias and fast-casual restaurant and Live Basil Pizza, a new fast-casual Neapolitan-style pizzeria, captures both of those dimensions. Live Basil Pizza was conceived by Tom Ryan, founder of the upscale burger chain SmashBurger and the perpetually open LoDo diner Tom's Urban 24. With an eye for where the market is going and an ability to influence that direction, Ryan decided to make the fast-casual upscale pizzeria his next adventure.
"We believe that pizza is one of America's favorite foods," Ryan says. "And much like in the burger area, the biggest purveyors have been around for a long time and they are doing things that are mainstream, commodity-based, but perhaps not very exciting anymore, which is why we decided to do something next-generational, something modern with pizza" he adds. The manifestation of this "next-generational" concept is a Neapolitan-inspired pizzeria, adapted for America, where all the items on the food philosophy centers around four words: organic, natural, authentic, or imported.
Virtually everything on the menu includes one of more of those four elements. The kitchen uses live basil, cut straight from the kitchen counter, on the pizzas as well as in its pesto. The tomato sauce is made with organic, imported San Marzano tomatoes. The olives, olive oil, and Grana Padano cheese are also imported from Italy, while the Korobuta ham that comes from a Berkshire-like pig comes from Idaho.
The 11 inch hand-crafted pies are cooked in a gas-burning brick oven that heats up to over 600 degrees in a mere 150 seconds. There are two sections dedicated to pizzas on the menu: one centered around classics like the Margherita and Carbonara and another dedicated to specialty pizzas like the the Hot One, Maui BBQ Natural Chicken, and the Farm Stand Natural Veggie. Guests can also build their own pies and a gluten-free option is available in any variety. There are three salad options: a Simple Bistro Side Salad, the Colorado Chopped, and the Arugula, Lemon, and Pistachio. Beverage options include Boylan's sodas, beer, and wine, but also Haagen-Dasz sorbet smoothies, hand-spun with fresh fruit.
The first location of Live Basil Pizza, a 2000 square foot space that seats up to 90 guests, will open on Thursday, May 23 at 6305 E. Hampden Avenue, right next door to a SmashBurger location. The restaurant will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. In another month, a second location will open at 104th Avenue and Federal Boulevard, with a third scheduled to roll out by the end of 2013 and another within twelve months of the first one launching.