Pizzeria Locale, the Boulder Neapolitan-pizza restaurant owned by master sommelier Bobby Stuckey and chef Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson, is finally ready to unveil its Denver location. The restaurant, located at 550 Broadway, will open tomorrow in a format that is both new and familiar to those acoustomed to the Boulder location. Stuckey and MacKinnon-Patterson, who also own Frasca Food and Wine, have been working on perfecting their Denver concept for nearly two years.
The result is a pizzeria that retains the hip feel and design and the freakishly perfected pizza made with the highest quality ingredients and does away with some of the fluff that the Boulder location boasts - the hostess, table service, custom plateware and silverware, the cocktail list, and the wine selection.
The 3,000 square foot space that can accommodate up to 99 guests inside and another 25 on the patio was designed in collaboration with Semple Brown Design, a premier architectural design firm that worked with the Frasca team on both of its Boulder restaurants. The décor is familiar: dark brown woods on some of the tables and banquettes, white tiles on the floor and walls, some marble accents on tables and the pizza-making station, and simple chairs that blend into the contemporary interior. The space is airy with high wooden ceilings and walls complemented by some of the same Italian streetscape photos found in Boulder.
What should you pay more attention to in the space? Three things: the dough room, the custom-made prosciutto slicer, and the gray-tiled pizza oven.
"Welcome to Napoli," Chris Donato, manager of the Denver Pizzeria Locale said, as we entered the dough room. The room is set at a comfortable 72 degrees with the humidity levels of a spring day in Southern Italy. This is likely the biggest differentiator for Pizzeria Locale: the obsession with maintaining optimal temperature and humidity for the dough. In the white room, there are large sacks of double zero flour and a giant mixer can make up to 300 portions of dough in one batch. Dough is proofed for 22 to 24 hours, an advantage to the 10 to 12 hours in Boulder, a limitation that comes from space constraints. Longer proofing allows for fewer noticeable percentage changes and consistency in both the dough-making and dough cooking process.
The prosciutto slicer is a beauty built in Friuli by Mirco and Gary Snaidero, a father and son duo that custom-makes and retrofits World War II guns and meat slicers. The Friulano government made the introduction to the Frasca team and since they met, four slicers made their way from Friuli to Colorado. Guests can see these Ferraris of slicers as they are commonly refered to at Frasca, Pizzeria Locale, Frasca Caffe, and now at the Denver location of the Pizzeria. This last one, a red metal monster of over 200 pounds, had a price tag of 15,000 euros.
The most important part of the Denver Pizzeria Locale is the oven. While the gray tile makes it look similar to the one in Boulder, there's no wood-burning (unfortunately) and there are (blissfully) no temperamental fits to deal with. This is a custom-built gas oven that took 18 months to get just right. The goal was to take the optimal spot in the original Locale oven, a small strip of real estate in the hot hearth and replicate it throughout the interior of the newly engineered machine. A rotating platform that can handle the weight of a car takes the pizzas on a two-minute ride through the oven, yielding optimally cooked pies without the dance of moving them around from the hot side of the oven to the cooler one multiple times.
"Boulder taught us how to do things better," MacKinnon-Patterson said. "We had an opportunity to work on our pizzas and make them the best that they can be," he added. "What we are doing in Denver is focusing on the basics and making the basics as great as they can be and, with a lower price-point, allowing more guests to enjoy our pizza made with great ingredients and exceptional technique."
So, are the pies different than those in Boulder? In some ways, yes, in others, no. The Denver location will serve 10 inch pies, as opposed to the 12 inch ones baked in Boulder. The Denver pies are sliced already, while the Boulder ones arrive whole with a fancy knife. The ingredients, however, are all the same and the team at Frasca feels that between using the highest quality ingredients and the commitment to a traditional cooking style, the Denver pizzas will win over the skeptics.
On the menu, guests will find six Neapolitan classics ranging from the Margherita to the Bianca and Mais, as well as four American classics, the beloved cheese, pepperoni, veggie, and supreme. For those seeking complete control, a Built-Your-Own section is available with a choice of red or white pizza and eighteen toppings that costs $1 each and an additional eight toppings at $2 each. There are three arugula-based salads on the menu- the Tuna, Caponata, and Pizzaiolo- as well as the option of creating your own arugula-based salad with the same toppings as the pizzas.
Guests can order sides of Italian meatballs and prosciutto and delight in the popular Budino, served in a smaller portion than the one in Boulder. Italian sodas, beer, and wine on tap complete the menu.
Familiar faces will be present both in the kitchen In the kitchen and on the floor- chef Jordan Wallace who opened the Boulder Locale is overseeing the pizza-making and manager Chris Donato leading the managerial floor operations.
The restaurant opens tomorrow and will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week.
· Eater Young Guns 2012: Chris Donato of Pizzeria Locale[EDen]
· Pizzeria Locale Confirms Denver Location [EDen]
· Denver's 38 Essential Restaurants [EDen]
· Pizzeria Locale Denver [Official Website]