Cafe Society

First look: Patxi's opens today in Uptown with free pizza slices if you mention Westword

And then there were three. In November of last year, Bill Freeman and Patxi Azpiroz opened the city's first Patxi's Pizza in Englewood, a pie palace that takes its inspiration from Chicago-style stuffed pizza: thick, heavy, deep-dish rounds with crusted bottoms festooned with toppings, cheese and a generous smear of deep crimson tomato sauce; a large one feeds a platoon. In late February, the owners, whose passion for pizza started in Northern California, where there are nine outposts of Patxi's, including the original location, unleashed a second Patxi's in Cherry Creek, and today, a third Patxi's will open at 11 a.m. in Uptown. And considering the lingering chill that looms outside, it's a good day to get a hot slice of 'za -- a free slice if you head over there between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and say the magic word: "Westword." That's right: Mention "Westword," and a slice of pizza -- deep dish, or thin crust -- is on the house. Happy Monday!

See also: A third Patxi's Pizza will open in November in Uptown

It's a good time to gawk at the space, too, 3,000 square feet of wood-beamed ceilings; chromed kettle light fixtures; energy-efficient "Big Ass" fans; antiqued mirrors; a pair of garage doors that peek over the expansive patio and outdoor bar; a custom-made, farmhouse community table, the wood of which was salvaged from the historic Byron G. Rogers Federal Building and United States Courthouse; a weathered wood, stand-up drink rail that stretches across the bar area; and dining tables that were created from reclaimed hard rock maple and heart pine woods, all of it procured from the Holiday Bowl, a now-closed bowling alley in Hayward, California -- and every table showcases foul lines or black diamonds. Flip them over, and you'll see a face stamp of Rick Nelson, the craftsman who designed them.

The decor mimics the other stores, although the Uptown space, which is long and narrow and accented with cherry-red, glass dividers, feels more contemporary, while still maintaining the signature rusticity that bedecks all of the Patxi's Pizza locations.

And Azpiroz, who says he'll open more Colorado outposts in 2015 (he's pinpointing Boulder and Fort Collins), emphasizes that every Patxi's Pizza is designed to fill a neighborhood niche and embrace the community in which it resides -- and Uptown, he notes, is a neighborhood that he and his business partner immediately eyeballed for its all-around chummy vibe. "It's an artsy, energetic, community-driven neighborhood, and it just has a great feel to it," he says. "And while we want to provide the best pizza in the world to our guests, we also want to give our guests an experience that rates just as high in hospitality -- a place where you can banter with your bartender or server, a place to come in and feel social and comfortable, a place where you want to turn off your cell phone and talk to the people you're with, a place to stop on your way way home from work and just relax."

And eat pizza, lots of pizza. The menu, which also features thin-crust pizza and create-your-own pizzas, along with salads and appetizers, is the same at every location, and all of the doughs, which can also be made without gluten, are hand-pulled and baked in a revolving pan oven that evenly distributes heat.

But while pizza is the main draw, the beer program is big, too, with more than dozen brews, mostly Colorado craft beers, on tap and another eight available by the can or bottle. "The beer selection here is larger than any of our other Denver stores -- beer is where it's at," says Azpiroz, noting, too, that cocktails, including a chipotle bloody Mary, along with wines, are also part of the beverage lineup.

"Our goal is to keep getting better with every store," says Azpiroz. "And I love Denver, our guests and the all the people we work with, which is why we keep opening new locations here. Everyone is so gung-ho and genuinely enthusiastic, and our staff takes so much pride in our products. It's exhilarating," he adds. "We love Denver for so many reasons, and we couldn't be more excited to be part of Uptown."

After today's "free slice" giveaway, Patxi's will begin its regular hours tomorrow: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Here's an early peek at the space.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson