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Anthony's Pizza & Pasta

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Anthony's Pizza and Pasta (or, as it's known around my house, "Ant-anees") has long been my reliable Denver standby for New York-style pizza in a hurry. Do the locations do slices? Yes. Do they offer the triumvirate of New York styles? Absolutely: a thin-crust cheese and pepperoni, a thin-crust double-cheese, and an eighteen-inch white that are all good and — depending on the location, the timing and the crew in the kitchen — occasionally even great.

Anthony's got its start in 1984, when Henry Mann opened his first slice shop on the 16th Street Mall. Then, as now, and as with any stereotypical pizza shop, the service is gruff, though not unfriendly. Know what you want when you get to the counter, order it and get out of the way, and you'll have no problems. In addition to those quality New York pies, there's a scattershot offering of other pizza-shop delights: pastas, meatball heroes, salads, appetizers, desserts. The menus vary by location, but truth be told, I have no idea if these items are any good because I've never ordered them, preferring to keep my pizza experience unsullied by anything other than the occasional order of garlic bread or guilty-pleasure battered mozzarella sticks (which I get from the outpost on East Iliff Avenue).

But even though I love Anthony's, I do have one concern: the creeping Southwestern influence on their pizzas of late. Over the past several months, I've noticed the sauce at two different locations getting spicier and spicier. It's been a gradual thing, but two weekends ago, when I picked up a couple of pies for dinner, the sauce was downright hot — spicy enough that I noticed it immediately, and annoying enough that I feel the need to say something to all the Anthony's franchise owners:

Please stop.

For decades, your chain has been doing pizzas properly — meaning dressing them in a sweet red sauce that points up the fruitiness of tomato against the milky-sour cheese and stiff, thin crust. Don't throw that all away now in order to chase after some notion of Western tastes or Western flavors. A proper pie is a thing of beauty — a work of art on par with anything in the classical canon. And to alter that simply to follow the changing demographics of taste? That would be something I could never forgive.

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