It's tough to find a good taste of the Windy City out here on the wrong side of the Midwest. A decent vendor's-cart hot dog with ballpark mustard and all the trimmings? Good luck. Pepper and sausage (pronounced "sassage") like old Ma used to make? Forget it. But if you're looking for a good Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and aren't quite ready to hop a flight for a real Gino's East double-cheese pie, try Nicolo's Chicago Style Pizza. With a thick, chewy crust loaded deep with toppings, sweet tomato sauce with just a little bite, and fresh ingredients laid on all the way out to the rolled edges, Nicolo's is doing the Second City proud. Plus, Nicolo's offers a margherita (white) pie layered with provolone, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil and tomato; a thirteen-inch EBA (Everything But Anchovy) version for just $13.95; and a whole host of other Italian specialties for those of you who think that man can't live on pizza alone.


Nicolo's Chicago-Style Pizza
Cassandra Kotnik
It's tough to find a good taste of the Windy City out here on the wrong side of the Midwest. A decent vendor's-cart hot dog with ballpark mustard and all the trimmings? Good luck. Pepper and sausage (pronounced "sassage") like old Ma used to make? Forget it. But if you're looking for a good Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and aren't quite ready to hop a flight for a real Gino's East double-cheese pie, try Nicolo's Chicago Style Pizza. With a thick, chewy crust loaded deep with toppings, sweet tomato sauce with just a little bite, and fresh ingredients laid on all the way out to the rolled edges, Nicolo's is doing the Second City proud. Plus, Nicolo's offers a margherita (white) pie layered with provolone, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil and tomato; a thirteen-inch EBA (Everything But Anchovy) version for just $13.95; and a whole host of other Italian specialties for those of you who think that man can't live on pizza alone.
Up-and-comer Papou's Pizza has cornered the Denver market for Connecticut-style pizza -- primarily because it's the only place in town making pies this way. The toppings are high-quality and laid on with a generous hand, but what really sets this pizza apart is the way it's cooked: pan-baked in a brick oven. With thick, soft, chewy crusts on the bottoms and crisp bones, Papou's pies fill that space on the pizza spectrum between the thin-crust New Yorker and the deep-dish Chicago variety.


Up-and-comer Papou's Pizza has cornered the Denver market for Connecticut-style pizza -- primarily because it's the only place in town making pies this way. The toppings are high-quality and laid on with a generous hand, but what really sets this pizza apart is the way it's cooked: pan-baked in a brick oven. With thick, soft, chewy crusts on the bottoms and crisp bones, Papou's pies fill that space on the pizza spectrum between the thin-crust New Yorker and the deep-dish Chicago variety.
Anthony Sarlo, owner and top pizza guy at Vita Bella, has a lot of history in the pie game. His father (owner of Armando's in Cherry Creek) and grandfather (who owned the Continental and the Oriental Manor in New York) have spent their lives in the business; his grandmother has spent her whole life cooking for the clan; his aunt owns Cafe Jordano. And all of this know-how comes together at a fine point: the double-crust fresh-leaf spinach pie with sliced black olives, garlic, romano and mozzarella for which the family restaurants are rightly famous. And how can we be sure that young Tony is sticking to his Sicilian roots? Because Grandma is right there just about every day, working the register and keeping a close eye on the kitchen to make sure he does.


Anthony Sarlo, owner and top pizza guy at Vita Bella, has a lot of history in the pie game. His father (owner of Armando's in Cherry Creek) and grandfather (who owned the Continental and the Oriental Manor in New York) have spent their lives in the business; his grandmother has spent her whole life cooking for the clan; his aunt owns Cafe Jordano. And all of this know-how comes together at a fine point: the double-crust fresh-leaf spinach pie with sliced black olives, garlic, romano and mozzarella for which the family restaurants are rightly famous. And how can we be sure that young Tony is sticking to his Sicilian roots? Because Grandma is right there just about every day, working the register and keeping a close eye on the kitchen to make sure he does.
The defining characteristic of peasant cooking is the creative use of those less attractive bits of an animal so that absolutely nothing goes to waste. And the big secret of peasant cooking is that a lot of these cuts, scorned by the casual carnivore, are actually the tastiest bits there are. Exhibit A: the tacos cabeza at Taquería Patzcuaro. The kitchen takes beef cheek meat -- as tender as filet mignon, but even tastier -- and gives it a quick burn on the grill, then lays it medium rare on a fresh corn tortilla with a little lettuce and pico de gallo.


The defining characteristic of peasant cooking is the creative use of those less attractive bits of an animal so that absolutely nothing goes to waste. And the big secret of peasant cooking is that a lot of these cuts, scorned by the casual carnivore, are actually the tastiest bits there are. Exhibit A: the tacos cabeza at Taquería Patzcuaro. The kitchen takes beef cheek meat -- as tender as filet mignon, but even tastier -- and gives it a quick burn on the grill, then lays it medium rare on a fresh corn tortilla with a little lettuce and pico de gallo.
For regulars at El Taco de México, the brain taco is nothing strange. It may not be something they eat every day, but it's no odder to them than it would be for someone else to see tongue in the cold case at a European deli, or escargot on the board at a French restaurant. The thinking goes like this: the cow is food; the brain is in the cow; therefore, the brain is food. Served hot and fresh off the flat-top, the ropy, grayish brains are slapped onto a double tortilla with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and cilantro; add a squeeze of lime and open wide. While we can't promise that El Taco de México's brain tacos will be pleasing to the average American palate, we can say that eating them will be an experience you won't soon forget.


For regulars at El Taco de México, the brain taco is nothing strange. It may not be something they eat every day, but it's no odder to them than it would be for someone else to see tongue in the cold case at a European deli, or escargot on the board at a French restaurant. The thinking goes like this: the cow is food; the brain is in the cow; therefore, the brain is food. Served hot and fresh off the flat-top, the ropy, grayish brains are slapped onto a double tortilla with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and cilantro; add a squeeze of lime and open wide. While we can't promise that El Taco de México's brain tacos will be pleasing to the average American palate, we can say that eating them will be an experience you won't soon forget.

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