Lists

Thirteen Old-School Pizza Restaurants to Try in Denver

The first Beau Jo's opened in 1973.
The first Beau Jo's opened in 1973. Beau Jo's Pizza
Denver's pizza scene is evolving. Neapolitan pizza has grown in popularity since the 2014 opening of Cart-Driver; rectangular Detroit-style pies like those at Blue Pan are at peak trendiness; pies made on sourdough crust are the go-to at new spots like Joy Hill, Redeemer and the Greenwich.

And while it's common to hear people bemoan the lack of good options in the city, there are plenty of longtime staples that have been in the pizza game for decades, where you can score a dependable pie — along with other Italian American classics.

Here are thirteen old-school spots for pizza that have withstood the test of time in the Mile High.

Beau Jo's
Multiple locations
Those who grew up on East Coast pizza may be skeptical of Beau Jo's "Colorado mountain pies," which are hand-rolled at the edges to hold in a pile of toppings, but since opening its first location in Idaho Springs in 1978, it's gained a lot of fans and grown to six locations in the state. Sold by the pound with honey on the side for dipping your crust, those pies are a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts taking an I-70 detour to sate their appetite after a long day in the hills. Nowadays, Beau Jo's also offers more traditional "prairie pies" and cauliflower and gluten-free crust options alongside its menu of appetizers, salads, calzones and more.
click to enlarge Carl's Pizza is now run by John Ludwig, who started working at the restaurant in 1976. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
Carl's Pizza is now run by John Ludwig, who started working at the restaurant in 1976.
Danielle Lirette
Carl's Pizza
3812 West 38th Avenue
303-477-1694
When north Denver was called simply the Northside, the area was filled with Italian eateries that fed the neighborhood for decades. And while most — including Patsy's, Pagliacci’s, Carbone’s and Longo’s Subway Tavern — are long gone, Carl's remains. Surrounded by trendy spots in what's now called the Highland neighborhood, this spot that opened in 1953 hasn't changed much since then. Now owned by John Ludwig, who landed his first job at Carl’s at age sixteen in 1976, its maintained its old-school, no-frills atmosphere — and still serves sausage made in-house, calzones, pasta, pizza on a not-too-thin, not-too-thick crust and more.
click to enlarge After getting new owners in 2018, the pizzas at Deli Italia were retooled. - KEN HOLLOWAY
After getting new owners in 2018, the pizzas at Deli Italia were retooled.
Ken Holloway
Deli Italia
1990 Wadsworth Boulevard, Lakewood
303-248-7208
Husband and wife Chris and Lindsay Lyons purchased the over-thirty-year-old Deli Italia in 2018 and saw the potential to transform it from an Italian market to a full-service restaurant. It now offers an expansive menu, including subs, appetizers, salads and a retooled version of pizza. Lindsay grew up in Boston, and Chris grew up between New York and Germany, so they like to say their pizza is a type of hybrid, with influences from each of those places. It's a thin crust, and they are constantly experimenting to create new and unique flavor profiles. The "Specktacular" pie includes speck, oregano, pepperoncini, mozzarella and goat cheese, and the "P.W.A." features jalapeño, pepperoni, onions, hot honey, cheese and the ever-controversial topping, pineapple. The Lyonses pride themselves on running a truly mom-and-pop-style pizzeria where everything is made from scratch.
click to enlarge Frank the Pizza King on South Broadway. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
Frank the Pizza King on South Broadway.
Danielle Lirette
Frank the Pizza King
4701 South Broadway, Englewood
303-789-2279
Founded in 1961 by Frank Krascek, this longtime Englewood staple is now run by Walter (Frank's son) and Maria Krascek. Alongside medium-crust pies, which are the main draw, the sixty-year-old joint also offers homemade sausage sandwiches, Italian subs and other diner-style dishes.

Giuseppe's
5600 West Dartmouth Avenue
303-986-5945
Owner Antoinette Russo opened Giuseppe's in 1988 after she arrived in Denver from Napoli. The sauce, dough, sausage and meatballs are all made from scratch here, and the pizzas are hand-tossed. The menu features various options for pizza, including a gluten-free crust, plus calzones, stromboli, entrees like lasagna and spaghetti, and sandwiches and salads.
click to enlarge Square pizzas at Lechuga's Italian. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
Square pizzas at Lechuga's Italian.
Danielle Lirette
Lechuga's
3609 Tejon Street
303-455-1502
A north Denver staple since 1961, Lechuga's is a family-owned and -operated Italian restaurant that is well known for its sausage canoli and square pizza. It began as the bakery for Carbone's, a now-closed Italian market and sandwich shop. From there, Lechuga's evolved into a restaurant and has kept its recipes the same since day one. The "spanoli plate" is a unique dish that includes canoli paired with a side of spaghetti. Lechuga's has successfully served the Northside for generations and remains a go-to for many Denverites seeking reliably good old-school pizza and Italian food.

Original Pizza Broomfield
1300 West Midway Boulevard, Broomfield
303-469-9117
Raffaele, Carmela and Carmela's father, Giuseppe Aiello, opened Original Pizza in Broomfield in 1991. They were all born in Italy and came to Colorado with the goal of bringing the best pizza and Italian food to this region. The menu features both Sicilian and New York-style pizza, sandwiches, calzones and lunch and dinner specials.

Pietra's Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant
9045 West 44th Avenue, Wheat Ridge
303-421-4100
Since 1964, the family-owned Pietra's has been serving homemade Italian food including pizza, soups, salads, sandwiches, canolis, pasta and more in northwest Denver. Its secret? It hasn't changed a thing since opening 58 years ago.
PIZZA ALLEY/INSTAGRAM
Pizza Alley/Instagram
Pizza Alley
3499 West 32nd Avenue
303-458-8415
Even as the Northside evolved into what is now named the Highland neighborhood, Pizza Alley has remained consistent on the corner of 32nd and Lowell, serving up the same recipes as the original owners did on day one. Pizza Alley has seen four separate owners since it opened in 1976; the most recent owner purchased it in 2020. The menu features longtime favorites like New York-style pies available whole or by the slice, calzones, pasta and sub sandwiches.
The Romano Special Pizza with sausage, mushroom, pepperoni, oven-roasted green peppers and onion. - ROMANO'S PIZZERIA/INSTAGRAM
The Romano Special Pizza with sausage, mushroom, pepperoni, oven-roasted green peppers and onion.
Romano's Pizzeria/Instagram
Romano's Italian Restaurant
5666 South Windermere Street, Littleton
303-798-4944
The Romano family came to America from Italy by boat in the early 1900s, and patriarch Giovanni pushed a cart on the streets of New York City. In 1967, his grandchildren Neil and Ellie Romano opened Romano's in Littleton; it had only three tables at the time. Today it's owned by Neil and Ellie's son John, daughter Sue Romano Calhoun, and John and Sue's niece, Jordan. The restaurant stays true to the family's East Coast roots and has a wide-ranging menu that includes brick-oven Italian pizza and calzones, pasta, seafood entrees and some of the best lunch specials around.

Santeramo's Pizza
8410 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada
303-431-1895
Since 1977, Santeramo's has been a locally owned neighborhood fixture in Arvada that prides itself on the quality of its New York-style pizza, which is baked in a stone oven. The menu also includes pasta, salads, sandwiches and Sugar Fritas, a sopaipilla-like treat made with pizza dough.

3 Sons Italian Restaurant
14805 West 64th Avenue, Arvada
303-455-4366
Susan and Michael Scarafiotti purchased 3 Sons in 2004 from its original owners, the Sannino family, which opened the restaurant in 1964. The Scarafiottis, with decades of restaurant experience under their belts, revamped the menu, redecorated the dining room, and made 3 Sons their own. Along with its specialty pizzas, the restaurant offers Italian staples like pasta, plus dinner specials like fried chicken on Mondays.
click to enlarge Vinnola's has been serving Wheat Ridge since 1973. - MARK ANTONATION
Vinnola's has been serving Wheat Ridge since 1973.
Mark Antonation
Vinnola's Italian Market
7750 West 38th Avenue, Wheat Ridge
303-421-3955
Vinnola's has been around for nearly fifty years and is a market, bakery, deli, bakery and restaurant all under one roof. When it was founded, original owners Mike and Lorene Vinnola focused mainly on the bakery; some of their original recipes, like the bread dough, are still used today. Along with pizza, which is available fresh and as a take-and-bake meal, some of the more popular items from Italian bakers Salvatore Giacalone and Marla Crum are the butter cookies, bread, cannoli and lasagna.
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Sean Mulcahy is a Westword reporting intern and student at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She loves all things in the Colorado mountains and is always looking for the best places to eat, drink, and dance in the Mile High City.
Contact: Sean Mulcahy