Check, Please!

Q: Do you know where I can find a white garlic pizza? I had one years ago in a construction work camp that was made by an East Coast chef, and I have been looking for something similar ever since.

A: A lot of pizzerias offer some type of white pizza -- that's a pie made without tomato sauce, and usually with olive oil as the moistening medium -- but these pale pies have to meet several crucial criteria before I'll declare them worthy. First, there has to be enough olive oil to keep the crust from drying out, and it should contain herbs for extra flavor. And the garlic on the pie can't be raw, nor can it be browned and bitter. Finally, there's the matter of cheese: Too much mozzarella and the pie's too heavy; too little and there's nothing to sink your teeth into.

I've found three places in town whose white garlic pizzas have consistently met my expectations. Angelo's Pizza Parlor (620 East Sixth Avenue; 303-744-3366) will coat its chewy crust in an olive oil that's been infused with oregano and basil, then add garlic as a topping so that it gets all mixed up with the cheese, offering a heavenly -- and pungent -- surprise every few bites. Basil Doc's (2107 East Virginia Avenue; 303-778-7747) also makes a respectable version; ask for extra cheese, because Basil's crust is thin, and without a sauce, it tends to get crackly.

My favorite white pie, though, comes from Parisi (4408 Lowell Boulevard; 303-561-0234). The combination chewy-crunchy crust is one of the best around, and owner Simone Parisi knows how to cook the garlic in oil so that it just starts to soften and doesn't go bitter. But the real topper, so to speak, is the drizzling of black-truffle oil -- an adornment that sometimes includes the truffles themselves. "I don't always have them," Simone says, "but when I do, I have some regulars who know to get in here." Fair warning: The truffle pizza costs $27. Is it worth it? Hell, yeah.


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