Empire Restaurant and Lounge chef/owner Jim Cohen to open Empire Pizza in Boulder

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Last night, during a dinner celebrating Julia Child at the Empire Lounge and Restaurant in Louisville, at which chef-owner Jim Cohen turned out a lovely four-course meal honoring the legendary empress of French cooking, the conversation turned to pizza.

Turns out that while Cohen is a habitue of French cuisine, he's also an aspiring pizza king, which explains why, come November, he'll open Empire Pizza in Boulder in the Village Shopping Center at 2660 Walnut Street, directly next door to Larkburger.

"I've been working on opening a pizzeria for over fifteen years," says Cohen. "I spent two years consulting for the largest car wash company in the world, and part of that job was putting wood burning ovens and pizza in their store, and when I originally came back to Colorado four years ago, I looked all over Denver for a place to open." Instead he unleashed the Empire in Louisville, a spirited neighborhood hangout that pimps exactly one pizza on its menu.

When Empire Pizza opens, says Cohen, he'll offer at least a half dozen pizzas, plus antipasti, sandwiches and salads in an old world space bedecked with recycled woods, tile and marble, framed photographs haphazardly mounted to the walls and an alter to the pizza gods, which he's still hunting down. "I'm searching for the perfect pizza god if anyone knows where to find them."

In the meantime, Cohen has been perfecting his dough, which, according to him, sets his pizzas apart from the competition. "I'm not telling you my secret, but I will say that it has everything to do with the rise process, which goes very, very slowly," reveals Cohen. The end result, he promises, is a "pizza with tons of flavor and a great texture, with chew to the dough, a little bit of char on the bottom and a crisp top."

The space, a tidy 1,200-square-feet, will only seat 40, but Cohen is working on a delivery system for his wood-fired pies that would involve Boulder collegians darting through Hybrids on Vespa scooters.

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