Any way you slice it, LoDo is soon going to be rolling in pizza dough. Charlie Palmer, the New York-based chef and restaurateur whose portfolio of restaurants across the country includes such big names as Aureole, Charlie Palmer Steak, briscola, Astra and Dry Creek Kitchen, is now coming to Denver, where he's taken over the Big Game space at 1631 Wazee Street. "We've looked in Denver in the past," he says, "but either it wasn't the right location, the right situation or the right opportunity. But this space is great, and I love the idea of being in LoDo, of being in a vibrant redeveloped neighborhood."
A neighborhood that's suddenly going to be full of pizza places.
Palmer is dividing the more than 9,000-square-foot Big Game space into two restaurants, and by Thanksgiving he hopes to open both District Meats, in what had been the dining room, and Wazee Wood-Fired Pizza, which will turn the former bar area into a joint hawking both New York-style whole pies as well as slices, made in an open kitchen with a high-class pizza oven.
Just down the street, at 1610 16th Street, the former Dixons space -- another 9,000-plus-square-foot behemoth -- is also getting divided, with one portion slated to become the Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap House, the second location of a concept that's already going strong in Louisville. Lucky will serve handmade organic and all-natural brick-oven pizzas, which you can wash down with brews from a bar featuring an ever-rotating 21 taps of craft and imported Belgian beer.
That's not all: Down Wazee, at 1055 Auraria Parkway, the former Braun's Bar and Grill, which closed this spring, is becoming Parkway Pizza and Bar. The old warehouse is now owned by the Pepsi Center, and Aramark will be running the restaurant. (Braun's on Blake is still serving at 2401 Blake Street.)
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And smack-dab in the middle of all this action? The Wazee Lounge and Supper Club, at 1600 15th Street, which has been serving pizza for close to forty years -- and is protective enough about its image that it took legal action when the long-gone Wazoo's on Wazee started serving pizza up the street.
But that was before lower downtown became such a culinary hot spot, before the Wazee was sold to the company that owns the Wynkoop Brewing Co. and a handful of other restaurants, and definitely before Charlie Palmer was a name to be reckoned with in the food world -- although he says that if he has to change the name of Wazee Wood-Fired Pizza, he will.
A version of this story first appeared in Cafe Bites, our weekly e-mail newsletter devoted to the Denver dining scene. Sign up here.