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Pineapple Pizza Is the Best Pizza

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Pineapple and jalapenos is a sweet and spicy combo that makes sense for tacos. Why not pizza?
Pineapple and jalapenos is a sweet and spicy combo that makes sense for tacos. Why not pizza? Fat Sully's/Instagram

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April Fools! Sort of — because pineapple pizza could be the best pizza.

The idea of putting tropical fruit on a pizza incites a lot of strong opinions. Most people will either passionately defend their love of the combo, or scoff at anyone who considers pineapple worthy of being anywhere near a pizzeria.

I fall somewhere in between. As a notoriously picky kid, I held onto the belief that "pineapple on pizza is disgusting" into my early twenties, without ever having tried it. But then, after bar-hopping with friends one night, someone offered to order pizza, and when it showed up, it was covered in pineapple and jalapeño. Too tipsy and hungry to pick them off, I took a bite and declared, "This is actually pretty good!"

It's still not a go-to topping choice for me, but the combo of sweet and spicy is one I certainly won't turn down if it shows up at my door.

The origin story of pineapple as a pizza topping starts with the so-called "Hawaiian" pie, which was actually invented in Canada in the 1960s. While ham and pineapple alone isn't a very appealing pairing, the addition of jalapeño makes a big difference. Sweet and heat is a combo that has wide appeal: I'd bet that most people who hate pineapple on pizza wouldn't turn down an al pastor taco with a fiery green salsa on top, or refuse to dunk a chip into a roasted pineapple poblano salsa, or sip a chile-spiked pineapple margarita.
The Greenwich's take on a Hawaiian pie includes pickled pineapple.
Molly Martin
But pineapple pizza can definitely be improved in ways that go beyond the toppings with which the fruit is paired, and some chefs are starting to explore their options. Food & Wine recently published a story on the great pineapple pizza comeback, fueled by chefs who are taking a fresh look at the ingredient and its place on pies. They're experimenting in Denver, too.

It's highly likely that the pineapple pizzas you've hated in the past used canned pineapple. And yeah, that's closer to gross than delicious. The fruit is soggy and mushy and way too sweet. But how about fresh pineapple that's been pickled? That's what chef Justin Freeman opted for at the Greenwich, a fun, upscale eatery in RiNo that's an homage to New York City. Here, a sourdough crust is the base for some truly excellent pies, including the Hawaiian, which is also topped with bacon jam and jalapeño. The result is a barrage of flavors, led by the salty and sweet bacon condiment, a touch of heat and some tangy notes from the pineapple.
click to enlarge
Some restaurants, like Pizzeria Lui, are rethinking how exactly pineapple should appear on pizzas.
Pizzeria Lui/Instagram
And what if the pineapple wasn't cut into pieces at all? At Pizzeria Lui in Lakewood, the Hawaiian pie includes jalapeño, a double dose of pork in the form of bacon and smoked ham, and a drizzle of roasted pineapple purée. Instead of biting into sweet chunks, you get a pleasant splash of sweetness throughout, with an added depth thanks to the roasting step.

With any luck, more local chefs will start thinking about pineapple as a pizza topping that's ready for its moment to shine.

But if you really, really hate the idea of pineapple coming anywhere near your pie, head to Casey Jones on Broadway, where that sentiment is shared by chef Mat Shumaker. He has two ground rules at his pizza joint: no pineapple allowed, and the establishment is BYOR (bring your own ranch).

Now go forth and eat any kind of pizza you love on this April Fools' Day. Here's our current list of the ten best pizza places in Denver to get you started
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