Best of Denver

The Ten Best Pizza Places in Denver — 2018 Edition

The Paulie Walnuts at White Pie burns through outdated notions about pizza.
The Paulie Walnuts at White Pie burns through outdated notions about pizza. Danielle Lirette
Pizza may be the perfect food in any situation and the one thing we could eat nearly every day without ever tiring of the limitless possibilities of crust, sauce and toppings. Whether grabbing a sloppy slice on a paper plate or sitting down with a vintage wine with fork and knife in hand (gasp!), there's a pie for every occasion. Thin and crispy, big and floppy or thick and chewy, the many pizza configurations keep us happy. Here are the ten best pizza places in Denver — in many different styles.

click to enlarge Grabbing a slice at Benny Blanco's often means finding the first horizontal surface where you can park with your slice. - MARK ANTONATION
Grabbing a slice at Benny Blanco's often means finding the first horizontal surface where you can park with your slice.
Mark Antonation
Benny Blanco's Slice of the Bronx
616 East 13th Avenue
303-831-1346

This cramped joint, where you can't even step up to the register to pay for your slice if someone else is using the Parmesan and pepper shakers, is perhaps the closest in spirit to a New York City spot. Only a couple of stand-up rails along the wall are provided so that two or three customers can knock elbows while eating, so stepping outside to wolf a slice (and we do mean one; only the hungriest customer would need more) is often the best option. The crust also has a certain ineffable quality that may stem from years of flour dust burned into the oven decks. Topped-to-order slices come out of the oven nicely crisped without becoming toast, so you can fold or not as is your personal preference. High foot traffic on 13th Avenue and lots of nearby bars and clubs means the place is always busy and the pies turn over quickly, whether at lunch or at 2 a.m.

Blue Pan Pizza
3930 West 32nd Avenue, 720-456-7666
3509 East 12th Avenue, 720-519-0944

Who knew that Denver would embrace Detroit-style pizza when Blue Pan Pizza debuted in 2015 in West Highland? Under the focused eye of chef and co-founder Jeff “Smoke” Smokevitch (who now runs two Blue Pan locations with partner Giles Flanagin), the cozy pizzeria starts with a traditional base — an airy, crackly crust, Wisconsin brick cheese and a thick, tangy sauce — and adds toppings that modern customers crave, from paper-thin folds of prosciutto and fresh piles of arugula to burrata, green chiles and Tender Belly bacon. Beyond the Detroit-style pies, Blue Pan also offers award-winning Italian thin-crust, an even thinner Chicago cracker crust, and big slices of New York-style pizza.

Cart-Driver
2500 Larimer Street
303-292-3553

Cart-Driver opened in summer 2014 in a trendy shipping-container development in RiNo. At 640 square feet, the 25-seat restaurant is smaller than some studio apartments, but the pizzas coming out of the tiny kitchen are big, big, big in flavor. Although the spot takes the fast-casual approach, with counter service, a tightly edited menu (no design-your-own pies) and a handful of small plates, the ingredients are top-notch and the food is produced with care. Bargain-hunters should be sure to hit the two happy hours.


click to enlarge We love DDD's Chicago-style pies, but you can also get a thin, crispy crust if this one's just not your thing. - FACEBOOK/DENVER DEEP DISH
We love DDD's Chicago-style pies, but you can also get a thin, crispy crust if this one's just not your thing.
Denver Deep Dish
1200 West 38th Avenue
720-619-3337

Tennessee boy Jason McGovern + Chicago-style deep dish pizza + North Denver = one damn good slice. What was once nothing more than a takeout window at the back of the Bar Car became a full-fledged restaurant in January 2015, and while sandwiches, wings and other bar food can be had at this Highland spot, the specialty is Chicago-style pizza built on a buttery, tender crust with high sides to contain the mountain of toppings. Unlike many of the Windy City's notorious pies, those at Denver Deep Dish aren't overblown, soupy messes, but rather well-balanced constructions that layer sauce, cheese and toppings in harmony so that tomato doesn't dominate. Traditional ingredients like spicy Polidori sausage, spinach and mushrooms share space with Southwestern concoctions like the 505, kicked up with green chiles, chicken and Mark Schlereth's Stinkin' Good green-chile sauce. Thin-crust versions are also available, and weekend brunch boasts an outstanding breakfast pie loaded with scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, salsa and breakfast meats.

Marco's Coal-Fired Pizza
2129 Larimer Street, 303-296-7000
10111 Inverness Main Street, Englewood, 303-790-9000

Every restaurant is cooking with wood these days, it seems, but in the Ballpark neighborhood back in 2008, true Neapolitan pizza was unheard of. Owner/pizzaiola Mark Dym’s obsession with every step of pizza production led him to becoming the only restaurant in Colorado certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the organization that makes sure the right ingredients, equipment and techniques are used to produce the perfect pie. Those exacting standards result in a light crust with just the right amount of bubbling and char, a delicate sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes, and toppings that capture the spirit of the old country. Over the past decade, Dym’s pizzeria has remained the first word in Denver pizza.

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