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I once watched a tense Broncos playoff game at the jam-packed Edgewater Inn, and when the crucial moment arrived -- your predominantly orange heroes down a field goal late in the fourth quarter, and Elway directing one of his trademark drives -- a curious phenomenon took hold in the place. The excited patrons, many of them decked out in Broncos caps and jerseys, kept their eyes glued to the TV screen, as you would expect. But they also applied to their overloaded slices of pizza the kind of death grip a blitzing linebacker would appreciate. As the tension at Mile High Stadium rose, customers blithely sprinkled on the grated cheese and the flaked red pepper, hoisted the steaming things mouthward and kept right on eating. Super Bowl dreams may be aflame this afternoon, but don't let the pepperoni get cold.

That speaks volumes about the pizza at the Edgewater Inn. Owners Ben and Josephine DiPietro have, as their menu states, been "proudly serving the best pizza and cold beer to our valued customers since 1953, using the same family recipes that have kept friends like you coming back again and again." Said another way, "The Edge" is a local institution only a bit less revered than, say, the Stock Show or the prime rib at the Ship Tavern, whose devotees remain as fiercely loyal as Broncos fans with a three-touchdown lead.

Not bad for an unassuming neighborhood place four miles from downtown. A place where a fat, round schooner of beer weighs so much that you practically have to be a bodybuilder to get the thing to your lips. A place so gloriously out of fashion that you can still order a bowl of hot cherry peppers for $2.25 or a bottle of Chianti for fourteen bucks under ancient autographed photos of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra ("Best pizza in Denver," Old Blue Eyes assures us). And the DiPietro family's corporate motto is still a fetching, if corny, mix of Old West hospitality and Old World charm: "Howdy, Paisano."


Edgewater Inn, 5302 West 25th Avenue, Edgewater, 303-237-3524 or 303-233-9892. Hours: 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday

On weekend nights, the Edgewater says howdy to more paisanos than a Corleone wedding. Waits for tables can be endless, the pizza pickup window is overwhelmed, and the decibel level at the cozy, elbow-worn bar is deafening. So it has been for decades -- thanks to the peerlessly crisp DiPietro family crust, generous toppings and a bank of beer taps that never quit. The Sweetness pizza ($13.95/large) groans under a mountain of pepperoni, Italian sausage, ground beef, black olives and three sublimely gooey cheeses. The famous Jeeper Canoli ($8.50) is a car-sized pillow baked golden brown, stuffed with ground beef and sausage and idiosyncratically topped with American cheese. There's not a strand of spaghetti in the place, much less a slice of carpaccio. What you get here is the same thing Edge fans have gotten for 47 years: terrific pizza and plenty of suds.

For dessert, kids love the one-of-a-kind cinnamon crunch pizza, especially when it's topped with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

As if it matters, the "water" adjacent to Edgewater is sun-kissed Sloan Lake, a block away. Edgewater itself is a quirky, mile-and-a-half square enclave, population 4,600, that's surrounded by Denver, Lakewood and Wheat Ridge. It features a bulb-lit welcoming arch at the corner of 25th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard, its own beat-walking police force, a nice little park and the kind of small-town-in-the-city feel that can warm the grouchiest heart. But mostly Edgewater has the Edgewater Inn, where municipal pride comes with green peppers on top.

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