How does a guy who worked at Domino's wind up opening a pizza joint that couldn't be more different from a chain whose reputation for quality 'za is one of life's biggest jokes?
Turns out Will Harris, who just recently unleashed A-Town Pizza in Aurora with the help of his wife, Jessie, has a fetish for Neapolitan pizza -- and quality.
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Harris, who was also a pharmaceutical rep for more than ten years, says he's always been enamored by thin-crusted pizza, and when a space became available in an Aurora strip mall, he kicked his job to the curb to pursue his obsession. "I actually went to Phoenix to to go Pizzeria Bianco, but after waiting for two hours in line, I still never got seated, so I gave up and came home," recalls Harris, referring to the nationally acclaimed Arizona pizzeria that's held on a pedestal for its wood-fired pizzas -- and impossibly long wait times.
He scoured pizza joints in Denver instead, including Marco's Coal-Fired Pizzeria, and he loved the pies being tossed by owner Mark Dym. "I figured that I might be able to do something like this in my own 'burb," says Harris, who procured the Ferrari of ovens -- a 5,500-pound Stefano Ferrara pizza oven from Italy, which is similar to the one at Pizzeria Locale, in Boulder. And it wasn't an easy installation: Harris had to remove both the front door and a window before he could shove it inside his open kitchen, where he also turns out wood-fired chicken wings, salads and garlic bread.
But it's the thin and chewy pizzas -- Harris uses double-zero flour -- that really shine. They're all eleven inches in diameter and imparted with the smoke of oak and pecan. Harris pimps fifteen custom creations, several of which are named after famous Colorado athletes, including John Elway -- that's the #7 GM, paved with tomato sauce (nothing more than tomatoes and salt) and topped with fresh garlic, housemade mozzarella, ricotta and jalapenos.
And while there's no liquor license, Harris has applied for one, and if all goes well, he'll be pouring Colorado craft beers from a draft system in March. And he plans to add sandwiches to the board, too. "We played around with making our dough and sauce for six months at home before we opened, and now we're tossing the idea around of making sandwiches with our dough," reveals Harris, adding that he'd also like to start making his own pasta.
"I think we've definitely tapped into an underserved market -- I'm surrounded by nothing but chain after chain after chain -- and I think that what we're doing here is really good for the area," says Harris.
You can check out the space, the menu and the food porn on the following pages.
A-Town, located at 17060 E. Quincy Avenue, is open daily for lunch and dinner. For more info, call 303-693-9663.
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