100 Favorite Dishes

100 Favorite Dishes: wood-fired chicken from Pizzeria Basta

Suffice it to say that I eat out more than the general population, unless, of course, the general population can catalogue more than 450 restaurant meals in a year -- which is about the number of breakfasts, lunches and dinners that I stomached in 2012. Pathetic, isn't it? But all those food dates are worth the gluttony, because it allows us to tell you where you should eat, a little favor that we started in late 2009, when we embarked on a culinary journey that took us through our favorite dishes in the Mile High City -- 100, to be exact. Now we're back with round three, counting down (in no particular order) 100 more of our favorite dishes in Denver (and Boulder). If there's something in particular that you think we need to try, reveal it in the comments section below, or shoot me an e-mail at [email protected].

No. 87: Wood-fired chicken from Pizzeria Basta

"Basta" translates to "enough" in Italian, and true to its name, the food at Pizzeria Basta, the Boulder restaurant that Kelly Whitaker opened in 2010, is never enough. It doesn't matter if it's his wood-fired pizzas, roasted vegetables, his lasagna or the wood-roasted chicken, this is the kind of food -- rustic, harmonious, beautifully seasoned -- that's wholly emblematic of pure passion, heart and soul.

See also: - Kelly Whitaker, exec chef of Pizzeria Basta, on faith and his new restaurant - Round two with Pizzeria Basta's Kelly Whitaker: "When did we stop being the cook?" - Round three with Kelly Whitaker: "Hospitality is about serving people -- not yourself"

For the record, I'm not a huge fan of the hen, and on most occasions, when servers recite the chicken specials, I cringe; when it see it on menus, I audibly bawk. Chicken, for the most part is, well, just chicken. There are exceptions, of course, including Whitaker's roasted chicken, which roosts far and above its competition. Nowhere else that I can think of -- in Denver or Boulder -- makes such an ordinary bird soar quite like Whitaker. The fowl is thumped with salt and fragrant fresh herbs before it's compressed in Whitaker's Cryovac machine, and the result is impossibly tender flesh that doesn't require a knife, a fork or sharp teeth. He finishes it in the wood-fired oven, stoked with oak, and when it emerges, it's the hue of caramel, its salty sheet of skin so crackly that you wonder if it might shatter. All I know is that it's never enough.

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2013 countdown are linked below:

No. 100: Foie gras oysters from Sushi Sasa No. 99: Porchetta from Parisi No. 98: chocolate caramel sea salt tart from Spuntino No. 97: Nachos from the Pioneer No. 96: Fried pickles from TAG Burger Bar No. 95: Breakfast burrito from Jalapeños Mexican restaurant No. 94: Jajangmyeon from Yong Gung Dragon Palace Chinese Restaurant No 93: French fries from Jonesy's EatBar No. 92: Fried rice from Benihana No. 91: Lobster macaroni and cheese from Mizuna No. 90: Schezuan beef in numbing chile oil from Chef Liu's Authentic Chinese Cuisine No. 89: lamb tartare from Epernay No. 88: Reuben from the Bagel Deli