A calzone always seems like a good idea in theory: all of your favorite pizza toppings cuddled together in a steaming pocket where flavors meld into gooey goodness with each bite. But in practice, calzones rarely live up to expectations. Rather than adding an extra dimension to a standard flat slice, the result is more often than not a doughy mess that's either undercooked on the inside or tough and impenetrable on the outside.
But Pino's has the formula for a craveable calzone cracked. The dough is rolled thin, and the fillings — mozzarella, paper-thin slices of Italian salami, red-pepper flakes and a generous wallop of minced garlic — are layered in just the right amount to keep the interior from getting soggy. When the calzone emerges from the oven, the crust on the football-sized half moon is a light golden, with a sheen from a brush of oil. Each bite reveals a shell with a thin, crunchy exterior and a fine, bready layer domed over the fillings.
The cheese and red-pepper flakes form an Italian-style chile oil that mingles with the other ingredients for a warming heat that's not overpowering. And there's enough garlic to perfume the entire dining room and spill out into the parking lot each time a customer opens the door.
Pino's is undergoing an expansion and makeover, so the tiny, rustic space will soon give way to a larger, sleeker setting. While the Cherry Hills Village neighborhood favorite may lose some of its old-world charm in the process, the friendly service and handmade fare will remain authentically Italian.
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2016 countdown are linked below.
No. 100: Masala Beef at Biju's Little Curry Shop
No. 99: Bacon Shrimp and Grits at Bacon Social House
No. 98: Porchetta and Kimchi Sandwich at Brider
No. 97: Squab-and-Sunchoke Tortellini at Abejas
No. 96: Housemade Burrata at Viand
No, 95: Schweinshaxe at Rhein Haus
No. 94 Kimchi Jeon at Seoul BBQ
No. 93: Zuppa Pomodoro at Parisi Italian Market & Deli
No. 92: The Ocean Salad at Sushi-Rama
No. 91: The Signature Bowl from Churn & Burn
No 90: Green Chorizo at Los Compadres