Best of Denver

Denver's Ten Best Pizzas by Style

White Pie serves New Haven-style pizza.
Danielle Lirette
White Pie serves New Haven-style pizza.
Denver has so much good pizza right now — and it's not just your basic slice, either. You can find New York-style, Neapolitan, Chicago deep dish, Detroit pan pies and so many more. Heck, the area even has Colorado-inspired pies perfect for showcasing what makes the state so good (yes, beer is involved). So next time you go out for a pizza, consider trying a new style — one that's at least new to you. Who knows? You just might find something you'll crave again and again. Here are the ten best pizzas by style:

click to enlarge The Chicago-style pie at Crush Pizza & Tap. - CRUSH PIZZA & TAP
The Chicago-style pie at Crush Pizza & Tap.
Crush Pizza & Tap

Chicago-Style Deep Dish

Crush Pizza & Tap
1200 West 38th Avenue

Visit the Highland neighborhood for the best Chicago deep dish you can find in Denver. Owner Jason McGovern has perfected his recipe at Crush Pizza & Tap (formerly Denver Deep Dish). Each pie takes about forty minutes to prepare — as it should, given the rich, hearty dough that bakes slowly in a steel pan. You'll notice the crust also has a buttery quality thanks to the layer of oil that coats the pan and crisps up the dough. Don't be surprised to find your toppings buried in the sauce, as Chicago deep dish typically layers the cheese first, then meats and vegetables, and finally the sauce. And if you're up for trying another deep-dish style, McGovern recently added Sicilian to the mix, another winner and a little lighter than its Midwestern cousin. And fans of thin-crust pizza will also find a hand-tossed pie that offers just the right amount of chew.
click to enlarge Grab a slice (or whole pizza) and a beer at Hops & Pie. - LAURA SHUNK
Grab a slice (or whole pizza) and a beer at Hops & Pie.
Laura Shunk

Colorado Style

Hops & Pie
3920 Tennyson Street

What, you may ask, makes a Colorado pizza? For Hops & Pie owners Drew and Leah Watson, it's the Modus Hoperandi beer by Durango's Ska Brewing that they put right into the dough. "It adds moisture and creates a tender yet flaky crust, such as adding vodka to pie crust," says Drew, adding that the beer's flavor also works well with the toppings. "We wanted to tie together a beer bar and a scratch pizza shop in as many ways as we could, and this was one of those ways." The addition of craft beer gives the chewy crust a unique flavor but doesn't taste like beer at all. Toppings include all the usual favorites as well as housemade chorizo, beer-braised brisket and hickory-smoked pulled pork. There's always a special pie on the menu, too, which could be anything from a take on barbecue chicken pizza to one topped with duck confit, rosemary, tart cherries, goat cheese and bacon. You won't find pizza like this anywhere else.

Detroit Style

Blue Pan Pizza
3930 West 32nd Avenue

We dare you to hit Blue Pan for Detroit-style pizza and not come away addicted. Between the perfectly crisped cheese that forms around the crust to the not-too-sweet sauce dolloped over the cheese, the pizzeria serves a great ode to the Motor City's famous pies. This style originated at Buddy's Rendezvous in 1946, but it wasn’t until Jeff Smokevitch and Giles Flanagin opened Blue Pan in the Highlands in 2015 that the style really made a mark in Denver. Now Blue Pan has another spot in Congress Park (at 3509 East 12th Avenue), and the pizza game there is just as strong. Order a Detroit-style pie in fun combos such as the Mountain Top, with two types of pepperoni, sautéed button mushrooms and Sicilian oregano; or the Sweety Pie, with fresh pineapple, Tender Belly bacon, ricotta and jalapeño.
click to enlarge The Athenian at Papou's has tzatziki for sauce, but you can also get traditional red sauce loaded with herbs. - MARK ANTONATION
The Athenian at Papou's has tzatziki for sauce, but you can also get traditional red sauce loaded with herbs.
Mark Antonation

New England Greek Style

Papou's Pizzeria & Italian Eatery
5075 Leetsdale Drive

Don't feel bad if you haven't heard of New England Greek pizza; it's not as common as the other styles, especially out west. That doesn't mean you should skip, it though, because Papou's in east Denver does it right. For starters, options such as the Athenian come with tzatziki instead of red sauce, which may sound odd served hot but actually works well with the slices of tomato, onion, feta and shaved gyros. The crust, too, proves different from those of more common Neapolitan or New York pies. The dough is enhanced with olive oil before being spread thinly over a metal pan slicked with more oil, giving the cooked pizza a crunchy bottom and slightly bready top. The sauce plays a part, as well, as it traditionally boasts a hit of oregano and a chunky texture. Papou's uses all of these tricks to differentiate its pies and offers specialties such as the Athenian, the Aegian and the Adriatic, which come with Mediterranean toppings like feta, spinach, artichokes and olives. But you don't have to get your pizza with classic Greek toppings to taste the regional influence. Try it with just cheese or, even better, a layer of pepperoni and meatballs.
click to enlarge Pizzeria Lui brought wood-fired pizza to Lakewood.. - MARK ANTONATION
Pizzeria Lui brought wood-fired pizza to Lakewood..
Mark Antonation

Italian Wood-Fired

Pizzeria Lui
5380 West Mississippi Avenue, Lakewood

Pizzeria Lui's owner, Zach Parini, doesn't adhere to the strict regulations of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, but his wood-baked pies are so good they deserve a spot on this list. The fourteen-inch pizzas come in either white, with just cheese and olive oil, or red, with homemade tomato sauce. Either way, there are a number of house combos available, or you can choose your own adventure. For the former, the Eggplant Parm showcases roasted eggplant, fresh mozzarella, pesto, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Or, go a little funky with the Butternut Squash white pie, topped with bright-orange squash, Honeycrisp apple, bacon, mozzarella, pistachios and spicy honey. Each pie gets cooked in a 900-degree oven and comes out fast. But there's Italian tradition in the slow-risen dough, the dome oven and the artisan approach, even if toppings stray from those commonly found in Naples. The modest setting may not wow, but the pizzas here sure do.


Marco's Coal-Fired
2129 Larimer Street

Marco's Coal-Fired owner Mark Dym is obsessed with making pizza and has continually churned out some of the best Neapolitan pies in the city since opening in 2008.  In fact, he's considered a true pizzaiola, or pizza master, and has gone as far to get certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the Italian organization that makes sure everything about the process is done by the book. Order a pie with bufala mozzarella and San Marzano tomato sauce, then watch the masters build your pizza and pop it into the huge Italian oven, right near the flames. Pizzas come out quick and hot, with thin crust that has a proper tang, signifying that this pie is the real deal — fermented over time for added flavor.  
click to enlarge The Paulie Walnuts at White Pie burns through outdated notions about pizza. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
The Paulie Walnuts at White Pie burns through outdated notions about pizza.
Danielle Lirette

New Haven Style

White Pie Pizzeria
1702 Humboldt Street

Strange at is may seem that Denver could have two distinct pizza styles from Connecticut, White Pie specializes in New Haven pizza, which is much different than what's served at Papou's. The hand-tossed pizzas in this Uptown eatery are baked right on the stone floor of a wood-burning dome oven, resulting in a piping hot, asymmetrical pie. Brothers Kris and Jason Wallenta opened their hip joint in 2017, giving ever-hungry pizza hunters something new to devour. Classic New Haven pizza is a riff on Neapolitan pizza, though in Connecticut the pizza masters prefer coal as their fuel of choice. At White Pie the brothers use wood, which gives the pies a smoky campfire char, in the best possible way. The pizzas look dark but don't taste burned; they're just cooked extremely hot and fast. Try this style topped with cured meats, hot honey, peppers and dollops of bright cheese.
click to enlarge Pizza at Famous Original J's in Five Points. - MARK ANTONATION
Pizza at Famous Original J's in Five Points.
Mark Antonation

New York Style

Famous Original J's Pizza
715 East 26th Avenue

Pizza seems like an easy thing to make, but perfecting it is another story, especially when it comes to the beloved pies of New York City, where folks are known to have an opinion or two about the right sauce, cheese, crust and topping. According to some, you can't make New York-style pies without the proper water, which is where Joshua Pollack comes in. Using reverse osmosis to strip the tap water of high levels of calcium and magnesium, he has altered Colorado water to mimic what he grew up drinking; Pollack uses the water for the bagels at his East Coast-inspired joint, Rosenberg’s Bagels & Delicatessen as well as for the pizza dough at the newer Famous Original J's. The dedication shows, and the resulting thin, floppy crust with just the right balance of chewy and crunchy has convinced legions of Denver newcomers. Get a whole pie to go or order it by the slice, just as they do in the Big Apple.
click to enlarge One of the mountain pies found at Pizza Pedal'r. - PIZZA PEDAL'R
One of the mountain pies found at Pizza Pedal'r.
Pizza Pedal'r

Mountain Pie

Pizza Pedal'r
2907 Huron Street

Nine years ago, the first Pizza Pedal'r opened at 125 Parry Way in Winter Park. The idea, says owner Rick Marion, was to pay homage to the mountain-biking community while making a stick-to-your-ribs mountain pizza that could keep outdoor enthusiasts going all day. "It's a hearty pizza for sports and before you go skiing or mountain biking," says Marion. A braided crust is the first step to making a mountain pie. But while the edge of the pizza is bready and toothsome, the bottom is rolled thin, though still sturdy enough enough to hold the pile of toppings Pizza Pedal'r is known for. Order the Yard Sale (which gets its name from when you wreck while mountain biking or skiing and your gear goes everywhere) with Buffalo chicken, onions, bacon, sweet potato fries and a homemade ranch-based dressing, which is used instead of the classic red sauce. That's just one example of the mountain pies available, which can also be found in downtown Denver's Prospect neighborhood.
click to enlarge Pizza rossa from the soon-to-open Pizzeria Coperta. - PAUL C. REILLY
Pizza rossa from the soon-to-open Pizzeria Coperta.
Paul C. Reilly

Roman Style

Pizzeria Coperta (Inside Broadway Market)
950 Broadway

Denver hasn't seen much in the Roman pizza category, but chef/restaurant owner Paul Reilly (of Beast + Bottle and Coperta) is changing that with his latest venture. But what exactly does Roman pizza entail? According to Reilly, two distinct styles of pizza can be found in Rome. "Pizza Romana is meant to be thin and crispy and enjoyed as a meal," he says. "Pizza al taglio, or pizza by the cut, is a thicker dough traditionally eaten on the go or as Roman street food." Pizzeria Coperta launched in the Broadway Market in February 2019, serving both types. Guests can order a pie inside the market at the counter, or do it the Roman way and just gesture to show how much thick-crust pizza they want from an already-baked tray.