First Look

Avanti Close-up: Dave Bravdica's Pizzeria Brava

Avanti Food & Beverage opened yesterday in lower Highland, and we're profiling all seven of the eateries inside the two-story food hall over the next week. The dish featured above comes from Brava Pizzeria, a more permanent incarnation of Dave Bravdica's mostly mobile Neapolitan-pizza empire. Bravdica operates a wood-burning oven on the 16th Street Mall, in a space complete with cafe seating and a liquor license, but much of his business comes from his mobile Forno Bravo ovens, which perfume Denver streets and special events with the aroma of wood smoke and perfectly charred crusts. 

The menu at the new, indoor Brava — located on the ground floor of Avanti — will stick close to the pizzeria's tried-and-true classics, like the calabrese-studded Marky and the bianca fresca with arugula and shaved Parmesan. But there will also be a range of starters, including a charcuterie board with a family-recipe caponata, "family jewels" meatballs and weekly specials based on seasonally available ingredients. Bravdica is also introducing farinata, a type of flatbread made from chickpea flour, which he learned to make while living in the Abruzzi region of Italy.

Desserts include a crostata marmeletta (like a fruit pie with a shortbread crust) and Italian s'mores with Nutella and pizzelle (those delicate waffle-iron wafers) in place of graham crackers. 

Bravdica stresses the importance of using local ingredients and points out that his flour comes from Rocky Mountain Milling in Platteville (just northeast of Denver), while the cheese on the Brussels & Bacon pie comes from the Jumpin' Good Goat Dairy in Buena Vista. Other local suppliers are Hazel Dell Mushrooms and Tonali's Meats.

An insider tip from Bravdica: There's a hidden menu that regulars will get to know from the order calls to the kitchen. Brava will run a Margherita Monday with specials on the classic pizza called "The Queen" on the menu (because the basil-topped pie was supposedly named to honor Queen Margherita of Savoy), but if you ask for the "Drag Queen," you can have it topped with sausage.

This week we're spotlighting the seven fast-casual food counters inside the brand new Avanti Food & Beverage building, which just opened on Monday. Here are our other Avanti close-ups:
Souk Shawarma from Jon Robbins of Bistro Barbes
Farmer Girl from Chef Tim Payne
Poco Torteria from Pinche's Kevin Morrison

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation