Step through the doors of New York Pizzeria and you're stepping into a true New York pizzeria. The smell of hot ovens, sweating dough, sweet tomatoes and charred baking flour is as unmistakable as it is universal, and while the decor isn't much to speak of -- call it Brooklyn street-corner chic, with a black-and-white linoleum floor, a dozen scattered tables and booths, and the ubiquitous New York skyline prints -- we'd like the place less if it were any different. Linen cloths and real table settings have no place in a proper pizzeria; the slices here come on paper plates already going limp from the magic orange grease leaking all over everything. The sauce is mild, the crusts are thin and limber, the ingredients are fresh, and every pie is proof that this kitchen knows every trick, every taste and everything that a kitchen in Denver can about making a New York pie New York right.
Ironic, isn't it? Not only does Anthony's put out the best white pizza in town, but it also has the best red sauce in a field crowded with contenders. A mild, slightly sweet sauce, neither too thick nor too watery and with good depth of flavor, Anthony's red is put to use not just on its pies, but also on a short roster of serviceable pastas and a solid board of pizzeria-style heroes and parm sandwiches. To west-of-the-Mississippi palates tuned into the heat of capsicum in all its chile incarnations, this sauce may seem too weak, too blah. But for those of us who remember that tomatoes are a fruit whose best essence is translated by long, slow cooking and an easy hand with the spices, Anthony's red is the tops.
The panini at Vincenza's, a revitalized bakery in the old home of the Wheat Ridge Dairy, start with great fresh breads. Case in point: the sausage sandwich, a chewy baguette stuffed with peppers, onions, provolone and a hungry-guy-sized portion of well-seasoned sausage. If Ralphie hadn't been decapitated during the fourth season of The Sopranos, he'd lose his head over this one.
Anthony's Pizza & Pasta
Summer Powell
Making a great white pizza is a delicate business, because one of the three primary ingredients of your standard pizza -- the sauce -- is no longer in play. Without that red to wed the texture of the crust to the flavors of the toppings, things can very easily get out of whack. Some pizzerias' whites are too dry, others overcompensate by loading on the cheese. Anthony's avoids all of these common pitfalls by topping an already excellent crust -- stiff but not crunchy, with a solid backbone of flavor -- with a perfectly balanced ricotta cheese sauce. The result is a mellow, mild white on a chewy, thin-boned crust that tastes great fresh out of the ovens...and even better cold for breakfast the next morning.
The founder of Taste of Philly, a six-seater joint, came from Yeadon, Pennsylvania, and its new owners are from South Jersey -- but that's okay, because Jersey is a lot closer to Philly than, say, Littleton or Lyons. The space is decorated in East Coast-refugee style, with a bunch of Philadelphia paraphernalia tacked up on the limited wall space, including the requisite framed print of Rocky Balboa. More important, Taste of Philly's Philly delivers the true taste of a Philadelphia cheesesteak -- an ex-pat restaurant's only real duty. Tender meat, chopped rough, is cooked perfectly on the grill, with provolone melted all through the meat, and the delicious result -- along with thin, stringy fried onions -- is then packed into an Amaroso roll (recognized as the Philly cheesesteak standard the world over). All in all, Taste of Philly puts together a memorable sandwich, the kind that people would drive across time zones for. But aren't you glad you don't have to?
Anthony's Pizza & Pasta
Summer Powell
Ironic, isn't it? Not only does Anthony's put out the best white pizza in town, but it also has the best red sauce in a field crowded with contenders. A mild, slightly sweet sauce, neither too thick nor too watery and with good depth of flavor, Anthony's red is put to use not just on its pies, but also on a short roster of serviceable pastas and a solid board of pizzeria-style heroes and parm sandwiches. To west-of-the-Mississippi palates tuned into the heat of capsicum in all its chile incarnations, this sauce may seem too weak, too blah. But for those of us who remember that tomatoes are a fruit whose best essence is translated by long, slow cooking and an easy hand with the spices, Anthony's red is the tops.
Forget your jumped-up truffled mashers, your milk-and-cookie menus, your comfort food in all its gummy incarnations. That fad is played out, and good riddance. What's replaced it is a focus on those uncomplicated culinary pleasures that -- when done well and treated with respect, rather than tongue-in-cheek smart-assitude -- can bring more actual comfort than a hundred gallons of gussied-up beans and weenies. The best among them? The grilled cheese sandwich. At Chedd's, owners Dirk and Wendy Bruley have made this modest sandwich an object of gustatory worship. Grilled cheese is all they do at Chedd's, in about 17 billion combinations. On the chalkboard behind the counter, they've listed twelve kinds of bread, over thirty kinds of cheese, eight meats, a dozen varieties of vegetables and spreads, and assorted condiments, which you can mix and match for the grilled cheese sandwich of your dreams.
Vincenza's Italian Bakery & Deli
The panini at Vincenza's, a revitalized bakery in the old home of the Wheat Ridge Dairy, start with great fresh breads. Case in point: the sausage sandwich, a chewy baguette stuffed with peppers, onions, provolone and a hungry-guy-sized portion of well-seasoned sausage. If Ralphie hadn't been decapitated during the fourth season of The Sopranos, he'd lose his head over this one.
The founder of Taste of Philly, a six-seater joint, came from Yeadon, Pennsylvania, and its new owners are from South Jersey -- but that's okay, because Jersey is a lot closer to Philly than, say, Littleton or Lyons. The space is decorated in East Coast-refugee style, with a bunch of Philadelphia paraphernalia tacked up on the limited wall space, including the requisite framed print of Rocky Balboa. More important, Taste of Philly's Philly delivers the true taste of a Philadelphia cheesesteak -- an ex-pat restaurant's only real duty. Tender meat, chopped rough, is cooked perfectly on the grill, with provolone melted all through the meat, and the delicious result -- along with thin, stringy fried onions -- is then packed into an Amaroso roll (recognized as the Philly cheesesteak standard the world over). All in all, Taste of Philly puts together a memorable sandwich, the kind that people would drive across time zones for. But aren't you glad you don't have to?
"It's the best macaroni and cheese you'll ever have," our server told us, and in his eye was the gleam of the fanatic. Eat out enough, and you'll hear that kind of thing a thousand times -- that blank is the best blank you'll ever have -- and it always comes from servers who are adamant in their convictions and usually wrong. But at Le Chantecler, our waiter was absolutely right. The kitchen's lumache pasta with hard Spanish mahón cow's-milk cheese is not just the best mac-n-cheese around, but better by leaps and bounds than its closest competitor. It's cheesy, gooey, warm and satisfying, perfectly colored, perfectly cooked. And Le Chantecler gets bonus points, because this mac-n-cheese isn't even a main course, but comes cuddled on the side of an excellent spread of roasted pork medallions in a ham-hock jus.

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