The questions of which state or city makes the best pizza, where to get the most authentic slice, and whose pie sings above the rest will always be hot topics. After all, pizza is a very personal choice that takes into account crust preferences, favorite sauces and, of course, preferred toppings. A basic cheese slice is no match for one laden with pepperoni (unless you're a vegetarian, that is), and a thin-crust New York-style pie is hard to compare with a buttery deep-dish from Chicago. Still, you can find great versions of all kinds of pizzas in Denver, and we sampled scads of them to come up with our list of the ten best pizzas in Denver, presented here in alphabetical order.
10. Angelo's Taverna
620 East Sixth Avenue
What type of pizza does this old-school Italian joint churn out? Frankly, it's hard to pinpoint, exactly. The crust has a slightly buttery and flaky texture, which works well to hold up the thick layer of cheese, veggies and meat. It's not thin, it's not thick, it's just hearty, as you may find if you happen try to finish a twelve-inch pie solo. Sharing is caring, and you will want enough eaters at the table so you can get both a white-sauce and red-sauce creation. Make your own combos or try an off-the-wall menu item like the Higher Ground, a rich white pie with roasted mushrooms, garlic, ground Italian sausage, spinach, ricotta and cream sauce. Add a plate of freshly shucked oysters to the mix and you'll see why this Sixth Avenue classic has been going strong with recipes that have withstood more than thirty years and a recent ownership change.
9. Bar Dough
2227 West 32nd Avenue
As the newest of the bunch, this Highland joint adds another great layer to the Denver pizza scene. This fact comes as no surprise given that chef-partner Max MacKissock is in the kitchen firing up delectable pizzas in an Acunto Napoli wood-burning oven. The dough has a nice chew, and the thinly layered toppings melt together in perfect harmony. For example, try the Commendatore, a lovely, meaty mixture of fennel sausage, prosciutto, sopressa, montasio and a drizzle of garlic oil. The Mountain Man speaks to the location and offers guests a hearty combination of guanciale, Gorgonzola, onion, chiles and, in a fun twist, pistachios. Other offerings include a smoked-mushroom pizza, a classic clam pie and a traditional margherita.
8. Blue Pan Pizza
3930 West 32nd Avenue
We can't get enough of these brilliant, deep-dish Detroit-style pies. Is it the perfectly caramelized cheese crust that surrounds each pizza? Maybe it's the high-end toppings, like creamy ricotta sourced from New York, miniature Peruvian peppers or roasted Anaheim green chiles that elevate each slice. Either way, it's not surprising that the dough is the payoff here; after all, co-owner Jeff Smokevitch is an international pizza master who has won contests in the U.S. and Italy with his creations. Award-winning pies include the Mountain Top, comprising two styles of pepperoni and button mushrooms; the meat-and-cheese-laden Brooklyn Bridge; and the Prospector, with chiles, mushrooms and hand-pinched Italian sausage.
7. Brik on York
2223 East Colfax Avenue
It's not just the pair of scissors served with each pizza that makes this East Colfax spot unique and fun; it's mainly the solid cuisine being dished out. One reason the pizza here proves so spot-on is the traditional Acunto hand-made oven that owner Travis Gee had shipped straight from Italy. In just a couple minutes it cooks the pizza and helps give the light, chewy crust that special smoky char Neapolitan pies are known for. Most of the options prove traditional to an Italian menu, so don't expect too many surprises. Choose from the mushroom-heavy white pie, an arugula and prosciutto di Parma pizza laced with truffle oil, or other superb combinations. The spot is also known for wine, something that makes eating pizza even better.
2500 Larimer Street
When this RiNo spot opened in 2014, it got a lot of buzz thanks to co-owner Kelly Whitaker's past as a pizza maverick at Basta
in Boulder. Even though the hype has died down a bit, Whitaker still produces a solid menu of piping-hot pies. Unlike many other pizza-focused joints, Cart-Driver's menu is set. That means you are happily stuck ordering one of the eight options including the Clam, with littleneck clams, pancetta and roasted garlic; the White, with smoked ricotta, mozzarella, garlic and basil; and the signature pie, made with sausage, kale, mozzarella and chile flakes. Pair that with a Little Italy cocktail and indulge in a winning combination. Just make sure to get there early or expect to wait. After all, Cart-Driver is housed in an old shipping container and only has 25 seats inside.
Keep reading for the rest of the best pizzas in Denver...