After the success of Frasca spinoff Pizzeria Locale in Boulder, opened by Bobby Stuckey, Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, Chris Donato and Jordan Wallace in 2011, the team joined forces with Chipotle to streamline the sleek Neapolitan eatery into a fast-casual concept that could be replicated all over town while keeping prices low. The new version of Pizzeria Locale debuted at 550 Broadway in 2013, followed by a second outpost at 3484 West 32nd Avenue a year later.
Since then, though, the mini-chain hasn't seen any more Denver action. After an unsuccessful foray into out-of-state markets ended in the closing of three Kansas City and two Cincinnati locations, the company chose to focus instead on value-based pies built with top-quality ingredients. "It was a classic case of too much, too soon," explains Donato, Pizzeria Locale's brand manager.
But after five years of biding their time, the group is eyeing expansion once again: The newest Pizzeria Locale opened today at 7505 East 29th Place in Stapleton. The restaurant follows the same model as the two older locations, with a high-tech "smart oven" that takes the guesswork out of more finicky wood-burning ovens as the center of the kitchen, an order line where you can choose from a menu of combos or pick your own toppings, and art from photographer Dave Woody and muralist Pat Milbery.
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Changes at this version include grab-and-go salads, a separate pizza assembly line for online orders (so that in-house customers are given personal attention), an expanded drinks menu with more beer and wine (including Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson's own Scarpetta Frico canned wines), and a softer look in the dining room, with more blond woods and open space. One of the new drinks is a seasonal spritz on tap made with Oliko ginger beer, Mile High vodka and other ingredients (the opening spritz is blood orange and basil flavored).
Donato notes that the mission is "neighborhood Neapolitan," intended to offer the tradition of excellence found in Neapolitan pizza, but at a lower price, with standards that include a four-ingredient dough (flour, water, salt and yeast), an overnight rise, wholesome ingredients on a hand-stretched crust, and just a couple of minutes in the dome oven with its rotating floor.
The brand manager says that community engagement is also important, since the Stapleton neighborhood is so family-oriented. So guests will be able to get buy-one-get-one-free pizzas if they present their library card from the nearby Sam Gary Branch Library, part of the Denver Public Library system. The pizzeria will also offer its popular Dough From Scratch classes and guest-chef pizzas to benefit local charities.
Pizzeria Locale Stapleton is now open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., with happy hour running from 4 to 6 p.m. If you go today, be sure and register to win free pizza for a year (52 pizza gift cards). Visit pizzerialocale.com for more details. Another new Pizzeria Locale location is in the works at the new 9th + Colorado development, with an opening date expected next spring.