Just a few blocks away from Hops and Pie, another spot is taking a crack at elevating the classic pizza-and-brew pairing. Stingray Lounge, which opened two months ago in the former home of Gelman's-cum-Boston-Fish-Shack, is the most recent effort from Leigh Jones and Margaret Moore, the duo behind Jonesy's EatBar, the Horseshoe Lounge and Bar Car. This strip-mall spot may buck the duo's trend of reviving old neighborhood storefronts — the partners say they landed an excellent deal on the space — but it doesn't skimp on bar-room ambience.The massive bar is front and center, a blond-wood monstrosity with car-seat stools, flanked by red vinyl booths and low tables under bulbous lights and drag-racing imagery. A kick-ass jukebox provides a varied list of tunes, played at the perfect volume to drown out the conversations of your neighbors.
Stingray pours good beer, a rotating list of Colorado craft brews, served unceremoniously by the bartenders, who are charmingly surly and (mostly) women. While beer geeks should be able to find something interesting on tap, they're unlikely to enlist the staff in long chats about rare releases; they're more apt to find a service-industry type sitting on the next stool willing to shoot the shit. But while Stingray is a bar, first and foremost, the partners, along with chef Nate Reynolds, who runs the kitchen, have put together a worthwhile list of of bar snacks and pizzas, perfected at the Horseshoe Lounge and then imported here, to complement the beer list.
2911 West 38th Avenue
A few friends and I stopped by one recent evening, grabbed a booth and quickly put back a round of Great Divide Colettes — a light, wheaty farmhouse ale — and a bowl of Buffalo tots: nubs of potato crisped golden-brown, then doused in buttery hot sauce and gobbed with blue-cheese crumbles. We'd barely made a dent in those when our pizza arrived. Stingray's crust is somewhere between the Chicago deep-dish style and thin, crisp New York type; it's dense and yeasty, with all the characteristics of good bread. While the Stingray kitchen offers some very un-bar-like toppings for that crust — including artichokes, housemade meatballs and capicola — we'd stuck with cheese, and got a pie thoroughly covered with a thick, housemade tomato sauce redolent with herbs and a hefty portion of fresh mozzarella, which bubbled enticingly when it arrived at our table.
It wasn't exactly haute cuisine, but it was a solid pie, perfect for a casual neighborhood night. Jones and Moore are masters at creating comfortable, pretension-free spots. Which is all you really need to enjoy good pizza and beer.