Longform

FOOD & DRINK

Page 5 of 6

Best Ravioli
Cliff Young's
700 E. 17th Ave.

When you order ravioli at Cliff Young's, you're not going to be served bland, pasty pillows packed with meat and smothered in marinara sauce. What you will get (after an oh-so-attentive waiter deftly places a napkin on your lap) are delicate envelopes of pasta stuffed with shrimp and cloaked in a pesto cream sauce and sun-dried tomatoes. Even at lunch, this Italian delight will set you back $10.95. But it's worth every penny.

Best Breadsticks
Fratelli's
1200 E. Hampden Ave., Englewood

Fratelli's makes many fine things in its in-house bakery, but we'd willingly plop down dough for the breadsticks it serves gratis with dinner. Yeasty, chewy and steamy warm, these fat fillers are more bread than stick and come with a parsley- and oregano-laden marinara. The breadsticks themselves contain plenty of herbs, as well as copious amounts of garlic--enough to require all members of your party to partake.

Best Thin Pizza
Papa's Pizza
540 E. Alameda Ave.

Papa (yes, there is a Papa) scoffs at the gourmet and instead speaks to the simple pizza lover in all of us. His wafer-thin crust with extra-thick handles holds back an avalanche of drippy mozzarella cheese and a sweet red sauce. Mama mia, Papa.

Readers' choice: Pizza Hut

Best Thick Pizza
Pantaleone's
2120 S. Holly St.

If there's a thicker Sicilian pizza on the planet, we haven't come across it. Pantaleone's crust is about three inches thick--almost like French bread--but airier and crunchier than you'd expect. And once you've added your fresh toppings--go for basil, spicy sausage and ripe tomatoes--the thing's almost doubled in height. You'll think you can eat more than one slice by yourself, but you'll be wrong.

Readers' choice: Beau Jo's

Best Stuffed Pizza
Cappuccino's
2740 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Lakewood

As if pizza weren't filling enough, Cappuccino's Italian jams ricotta and Romano cheeses between two thick layers of crust. With mozzarella and an oregano-laden sauce thrown in, this pie is more like lasagna than anything else--and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Readers' choice: Old Chicago

Best Pizza That Tastes Like a Hot Dog
Bourbon Street Original Pizza Bar
5139 S. Yosemite St., Greenwood Village

Bourbon Street's Coney Island pizza comes topped with--what else?--hot-dog chunks, mustard, onions, relish, red peppers and Monterey Jack cheese, turning your average pie into a trip back East. Actually, it's even better: You get the hot-dog taste without the appetite-axing Coney Island atmosphere. To make the experience complete, be sure to order this with the jalapeno dough.

Best Pizzelles
Gargaro's Italian Bakery
5058 Marshall St., Arvada

Gargaro's is so unassuming you could pass by a thousand times and never know what treats await. But once you step inside, this mom-and-pop place located just a hop, skip and a jump from Old Towne Arvada will bowl your olfactories over. First, there's the tantalizing smell of fresh bread baking. Get a loaf--you'll be tearing into it as soon as you're out the door. But save room for the pizzelles. These thin, flat, delicately light cookies, mildly sweet and sharp with anise, melt in your mouth.

Best Canolis
Carmine's on Penn
92 S. Pennsylvania St.

Sweet dreams are made of these. At Carmine's, an order of canoli brings a pair of crisp, freshly made, powdered-sugar-dusted shells filled with a cloud of fluffy, sweet cheese studded with chocolate chips. Even so, Carmine's canoli's are surprisingly light, taking the tomatoey edge off your meal, gliding in smooth tandem with an after-dinner coffee.

Best Noodle Kugel
East Side Kosher Deli
5475 Leetsdale Dr.

Any Jew worth his kosher salt will have pleasant memories of this dish--a pudding-like casserole of fat noodles, sugar and other ingredients, baked in the oven until it's crispy and caramel-sweet around the edges. Whether you want to try noodle kugel for nostalgic reasons or simply to see what the fuss is all about, East Side offers a variety of authentic pareve versions, including cherry, apple raisin and carrot, prepared without dairy products and sold by the pound.

Best Baklava
Cedars
1550 S. Federal Blvd.

Too dry, too wet, too sweet, too buttery--the usual goofs with this Middle Eastern pastry of phyllo stacks held together with honey, nuts and butter aren't a problem at Cedars. The Dagher family uses rose water to undercut the richness and adds pistachios to the walnuts for an extra treat. The Daghers are so friendly, you may end up eating your dessert with them--but no matter how much fun you have, they won't let you help with the dishes. end of part 3

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