Cafe Society

Mouthing Off

Pizza the action: After my recent review of pizza places ("Pizza Mind," April 10)--one of which, Enzo's End, at 3424 East Colfax Avenue, is now on my list of favorites--several people called to say I should try Oblio's Pizzeria, at 6155 East 22nd Avenue. And after visiting this charming Park Hill pizza joint, I'm happy to say that it, too, ranks near the top. Our large pie ($12.75) boasted a crisp-on-the-outside, moist-on-the-inside crust; excellent tomato sauce and cheese; and a generous amount of our chosen toppings: artichoke hearts and spinach. The atmosphere was wonderfully warm--I love it when live plants are involved--and the accommodating staff was delightful. We could have stayed there all night.

On the other hand, we couldn't wait to get out of Mama Alvino's Pizzeria (15179 East Colfax Avenue in Aurora). This was one of those places I'd received several raves about, which usually indicates that it's at least worth checking out. And it was certainly a charmingly decorated spot--Tiffany-type lamps, checkered tablecloths, lots of wood. But the pizza was reminiscent of Silly Putty, so much cheese sat on the thick, doughy crust. A lot of cheese is good; enough cheese to stretch out and wear as a scarf is overkill. Besides, when there's this much mass, room temperature tends to quickly turn the molten cheese into unchewable rubber. The cheese had sponged up what little sauce was slopped underneath, and the dense crust holding in all this hardened mozzarella was so dry it was like eating mittens.

After chucking Mama Alvino's pie in the garbage, we headed over to Pudge Bros. Pizza, at 1710 South Buckley Road. While I'd found that pies purchased at the Denver-based chain's Parker location suffered from production problems, this Aurora link turned out an excellent large pie ($13.25) covered with green peppers, Italian sausage and onions, trapped in just the right amount of oozey cheese and further flavored by Pudge's spicy sauce. Buoyed by my pleasant experience there, I returned to the Parker site (17860 Cottonwood Drive) for the same pizza and was rewarded with another great pie that pushed Pudge Bros. onto my list of favorites as well.

On another list, my to-do list for the summer, I have added the Denver Post Lower Downtown Beer, Wine and Food Festival on June 14 and 15. Formerly known as the LoDo BrewFest, this fourth annual brew-ha-ha has been renamed to reflect the addition of five Colorado wineries and also give credit to the top-notch food vendors the event always attracts. Tickets are $3 in advance and $5 at the gate; once inside, a buck garners a six-ounce beer from any one of forty breweries.

That same weekend, the 15th annual Food & Wine Magazine Classic will be held in Aspen; the culinary-celebrity-studded happening will once again offer more food, wine and fun than should be allowed in one small town (500 wines, 80 cooking demonstrations, "conversations" with Julia and Jacques). The price is $525 for three days of gluttony, and believe me, it's well worth it--I drank at least $600 worth of wine last year.

If the martini's more your style, however, head over to the "Martini Madness" course sponsored by Colorado Free University at the York Street Cafe (2239 East Colfax Avenue) on May 6. Nationally known martini instructor Patricia Barroll will serve up history, recipes and, most important, actual martinis from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The cost is $35 per person, and registration is a must; call 399-0093.

--Wagner