Second Helpings

Pasquini’s Pizzeria

Pasquini's is the place you went with your band just before you made it big, where you and your girlfriend ate every Friday night when you were still poor and in love. It's the place you remember from college -- the one where everyone went to celebrate the end of finals and ended up working when they realized their double major in philosophy and Sanskrit didn't leave them with a lot of other job prospects. Pasquini's was opened in 1986 by Tony Pasquini, and his story is so cliched that it's possible the rookie-restaurant-owner-who-pours-his-whole-heart-and-soul-into-some-ramshackle-dive-and-comes-out-a-success stereotype was based on him. It's a tale that's got everything: a rejected bank loan, a $300 advance from dad, thrift-store plates and garage-sale chairs, and building materials traded for pies. Tony worked for years to make Pasquini's into a unique and fully welcoming neighborhood Italian restaurant, and he succeeded to the point that now his original location on South Broadway (there are two more, one on 17th Avenue and one in Louisville) is full, front to back and top to bottom, for hours every single night. People come here for the hand-tossed pizzas (thinner than a thick crust, thicker than a classic New York thin) and the calzones, wrapped in pizza dough and baked until crisp. They come for the sandwich board that offers an impressive array of cold hoagies and the simple pasta menu that, though short, offers an excellent plate of ricotta, spinach and walnut ravioli, and stuffed shells like I remember from home. They come for what has to be one of the longest dessert menus in any place that isn't a bakery: sixteen items, not counting specialties. Point is, they come -- and keep coming -- day after day and night after night. Which makes for one of the only problems with Pasquini's: getting a table.
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Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan