Food News

Longtime Denver Restaurateur to Open Neapolitan Pizzeria on Colfax

This former garage will soon be home to a Neapolitan pizzeria.
This former garage will soon be home to a Neapolitan pizzeria. Mark Antonation
Brad Anderson has been in Denver's restaurant business for ages, as a partner in various enterprises including Trinity Grille, the Rocky Mountain Diner, Rick's Cafe, Castle Cafe and Chopper's Sports Grill. Over the past few years, the restaurateur has developed an obsession for Neapolitan pizza, and now he's jumping back into the restaurant game with a pizzeria of his own.

Just over a year ago, Anderson secured the building at 4839 East Colfax Avenue, an old Meineke Muffler shop. Since then, he's been working on plans and talking to the city to make sure his dream can become a reality, and now that everything's lined up, he's ready to begin construction.

While Anderson doesn't have a name for the pizzeria yet — "It's worse than trying to name your kid," he explains — he's got the details all worked out, based on his travels in Italy, his visits to the pizzerias of New York City and some hands-on culinary training. Anderson says he's always been a fan of New York's famous pizza makers, including Anthony Mangieri of Una Pizza Napoletana, and he's also met with the Associazione Verace Pizza napoletana (or AVPN) in Italy, toured the best bufalo farms and mozzarella production facilities, and learned firsthand about Antico Molino Caputo (where the best dough-making flour is milled). He even received AVPN certification after completing the association's classes in Los Angeles.

And, of course, he's eaten more than his share of Neapolitan pizza.

Anderson notes that a big reason for opening a new restaurant, aside from his love of pizza, is to show his children how a restaurant is built and run from the very beginning. "I want to show them that in America you can work your way up — you don't have to be born with it," he states.

And so he'll transform the old garage into a modern restaurant with a wood-burning oven and room for about seventy guests inside and plenty of patio space outside. The entrance will be beneath the flying triangular carport (the building's most distinguishing feature), and the interior garage space will be converted into the kitchen and dining room. Space will also be reserved for a wine room to hold bottles at the proper temperature, since wine is such an important part of the Italian dining experience, Anderson notes. The patio will include four bocce courts and an urban garden for growing herbs and vegetables.

The overall vision is a family-friendly eatery for the neighborhood with a focus on high-quality ingredients as well as value, with an expected opening toward the end of 2019. Anderson has followed Mangieri's career and restaurant in its various locations in New York City and San Francisco (the famous pizzaiolo has moved it several times) and sees him as a mentor as well as a fellow restaurateur. That's a good foundation on which to build a pizzeria with no name.
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation