Bar Dough needs to be your go-to restaurant for Italian brunch in Denver, whether you’re looking for breakfast pizza, pasta or one of executive chef Carrie Baird's signature fancy toasts. Baird helped put Denver on the culinary map as one of the stars of season fifteen of Top Chef, but Bar Dough's brunch is proof enough of the chef's winning ways.
I tried the Sunday Morning pizza because I’m always looking for ways to incorporate pizza into my breakfast (beyond cold leftovers, that is). The pizza comes piled with scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, fennel sausage and cheese. It's a white pie, so there's no tomato sauce, and the crust is a cross between New York-style and Neapolitan, so it's thin but not too floppy, and the edges are slightly chewy. The pies are cooked in a wood-fired oven and sport the perfect amount of char.
Pasta is an unlikely brunch find, especially when it's cacio e pepe, an Italian staple that's only recently becoming popular in Denver restaurants. One of the simplest and most underappreciated Italian dishes, cacio e pepe is traditionally made with nothing more than Parmesan cheese, black pepper and pasta; housemade bucatini is the noodle of choice here. Bar Dough adds its own spin on the classic with a little lemon and a poached egg on top; the yolk creates a creamy sauce that clings to the pasta. "There is nothing better than cacio e pepe done right," says general manager Maggie Maxwell, who adds that Bar Dough churns out five types of pasta every day, with styles that change regularly.
All of Baird's fancy toasts are built on housemade breads, with a choice of brioche, English muffin or sourdough. The thick-cut slices and rounds come as Benedicts or with avocado or Nutella, to name a few. A bottle of house chile oil made with Calabrian peppers graces each table, so you can add an extra kick to any dish.
Since Italian food evolved with wine in mind, I couldn't pass on Bar Dough's wine list, and luckily Maxwell was there to help me pair a different variety with each dish. All of the red and white wines are sourced from Italy, though the beers are mostly from Colorado. A few of the wines are even available on tap. As usual, mimosas and Bloody Marys are also on the brunch menu, as well as a long list of craft cocktails.
Brunch may not be a tradition in Italy, but Bar Dough makes Italian-style brunch a new tradition in Denver.
Bar Dough is located at 2227 West 32nd Avenue in LoHi and serves brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays only. For more information, call 720-668-8506 or visit Bar Dough's website. Hot tip: Gluten-free pizza crusts are provided by Victoria's Gluten Free Kitchen (formerly Gluten Free Explorer).