"It's my husband's fault," declares Terri Lack. "All of it."
Still, there could be worse things than getting the blame for your wife's infatuation with Italian food, to which Lack admits a serious addiction. "My husband comes from an Italian family, and when I first went to his parents' house, they served this huge bowl of pasta di Olinto, a 100-year-old family recipe, and I absolutely loved it," says Lack, who added it to her menu at Pizzeria di Olinto, a new restaurant in Centennial that pays homage to thin-crusted pizzas and pastas.
Lack, who started her career in the restaurant business by helping her husband open fast-food franchises, went on to manage an Olive Garden in Georgia, a gig that gave her the opportunity to go through the chain's culinary program, but Americanized Italian food, she learned, wasn't her passion. "I didn't want to make Italian-American food, so I started leafing through cookbooks and watching cooking shows about real Italian food," she says, adding that "around the same time, Neapolitan pizzas starting showing up everywhere, so I stated making my own yeast and dough, and that's when I decided I wanted to have my own restaurant."
Her menu, which includes starters, pizzas fired in a wood-burning oven flamed with hard oak, pastas, salads and desserts, one of which is a s'mores pizza, is complemented by an open kitchen, wine bar and urbanized dining room bedecked with wooden tables and shades of pewter. "I love to entertain, and we designed the space so that it's conducive to that," she says. "I have a passion for making people feel at home, and I've touched the table of every guest who's sat down in here since we opened a few weeks ago. I've never met a stranger."
I stopped by Pizzeria Di Olinto last week to take a trip through Lark's menu, the photos of which are on the following page.
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Arancione salad: fennel, orange segments, arugula, rings of red onion and olives dressed with a lemon vinaigrette. A wood-fired pizza oven dominates the exhibition kitchen. Peperonio pizza. The wine bar. The Salssiccia, glossed with olive oil and topped with fennel-specked sausage, fire-roasted onions and fresh mozzarella. Pasta di Olinto, a 100-year-old family recipe with meat and tomatoes. S'more dessert pizza with charred marshmallows, Nutella and graham crackers.