Happy Place: Campagna Salumi Bar and Pizzeria, 1120 East Sixth Avenue, 720-389-8773.
The Hours: Daily from 4 to 6 p.m.
The Deals: $3 wines, well drinks, and draft beer; $5 pizzas
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: Campagna took up residence in one of Denver's cursed restaurant locations, but owner Alex Gurevich chose to revamp the space with decor that's arguably the most refreshing style that the dark and sullen space has ever seen. Earthy Tuscan hues are splashed onto the concrete walls, with lighter wood accents throughout. The bar stools and dining room chairs are relics from the short-lived Montecito, and the main dining room has been opened up by removing the walls that originally divided the bar from the dining area. The smaller room along Sixth Avenue holds booths and is fantastic if you prefer dining near windows; our only complaint about Campagna's facelift is the outdoor patio: With a view of the Safeway parking lot, it sits mere inches from the dumpsters. Gross.
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The Verdict: There were two reasons I wasn't looking forward to trying the happy hour at Campagna, the first being that I had worked in the space long ago for a restaurant that was failing fast. That era saw many long, boring, depressing evenings and a constant struggle to pay the bills. I had not set foot inside the building since my last shift. The second reason for hesitation was a very disappointing happy hour at Campagna's sibling restaurant, Limon, last year. But I left those concerns behind as we pulled open the large wooden door and took our seats at the bar.
The bartender was an absolute gem, a nice gentleman with the disarming ability to chat up his customers without sounding generic or intrusive. The bar stools feel more like recliners; heavy wooden stools with arm rests and high backs and comfortable plush seats. The booze during Campagna's happy hour is cheap, and there's a generous selection of drinkables to pair with your pizza. And the pizza is actually pretty damn good. We sampled several of the happy-hour pies, but the salsiccia was our favorite: Italian sausage and fresh garlic make up the simple toppings, melted alongside fresh mozzarella and a tomato sauce that piqued our tastebuds. There was a lively crowd during our mid-week visit, and we sat happily with our pints, grateful that Campagna had proved our initial doubt wrong.