8 Hottest Pizza Restaurants in Denver

From wood-fired pizzas to Detroit-style, these pies rise above
October 26, 2015
by Lori Midson

Next time you're at a party and feel the need to fuel a passionate debate, proclaim that you're a pizza expert...and watch the sparks fly. In Denver, the pizza landscape has improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years, so much so that there's a notable pizza joint (or two) in just about every neighborhood. But these eight hot spots — most of which have opened within the past year (and, in one case, just last week) — turn out the top pies in town.

After months of anticipation, chef Max MacKissock — a Food & Wine magazine 2013 People's Best New Chef nominee — and Juan and Katie Padro, owners of Highland Tap and Burger, unveiled Bar Dough last week in the hot LoHi 'hood. MacKissock's collection of eight pizzas (pictured above), all 10 inches in diameter and billed as a hybrid of Neapolitan and New York styles, are stoked with oak in a showpiece Mario Acunto wood-fired oven imported from Italy. The elastic crusts, their rims freckled with blots of black char, are topped with just the right measure of ingredients, which zigzag from surf clams and garlic to guanciale, Calabrian chiles, Gorgonzola and pistachios. 2227 W. 32nd Ave.; 720-668-8506

"Detroit-style pizza is renowned for its ring of caramelized mozzarella cheese, which is our pizza’s signature trait," says Etai Bar-on, co-owner of The Good Son Taphouse, a colorful and whimsically eccentric restaurant and craft-beer emporium that opened in the spring of this year. The pizzas (pictured above) are made with fermented dough and baked in seasoned steel bread pans slicked with oil, emerging from the fiery oven with crisped and scorched crusts spread edge-to-edge with fresh mozzarella and enticing toppings, including housemade sausage, applewood-smoked bacon and hearts of palm. 2550 E. Colfax Ave.; 303-355-5445

For years, Tennessee native Jason McGovern slung his noteworthy Chicago-style pizzas from a tiny makeshift kitchen inside the Bar Car on Colorado Boulevard, but earlier this year, he opened Denver Deep Dish, a 62-seat brick-and-mortar in LoHi that dispenses high-rimmed pizzas (pictured above) boasting thick, chewy and buttery crusts topped with traditional ingredients (think pepperoni, sausage, onions, olives and peppers), liberal handfuls of mozzarella and a robust tomato sauce. 1200 W. 38th Ave.; 720-619-3337

More than 20 pies grace the menu at Blue Pan Pizza, most of which are the joint's signature Detroit-style pizzas, which are baked in repurposed blue steel pans slicked with oil, cut into squares and served on peels. The caramelized crusts, a signature attribute of Motor City pizzas, are surfaced with a three-cheese blend of brick, white cheddar and mozzarella, a sweet-yet-tangy sauce and toppings that range from figs, pancetta and pineapple to a number sheeted with slices of prosciutto de Parma, arugula and creamy burrata (pictured above). 3930 W. 32nd Ave.; 720-456-7666

Neapolitan-style, wood-fired pizzas are the siren song of Cart-Driver, chef and co-owner Kelly Whitaker’s diminutive sliver of space in RiNo that’s renowned for its delicate, char-blipped crusts studded with spectacular — and unorthodox — toppings. Each of his pizzas, flamed with fire in a 1,000-degree oven, has its own legion of loyalists, but we’re most smitten with his New Haven–style white clam pizza (pictured above) showcasing sweet and tender littlenecks, ribbons of pancetta, intensely roasted garlic cloves, creamy panna sauce and a liberal sprinkling of fresh herbs. And while it may make purists raise their eyebrows, Whitaker's housemade hot sauce — a bottle of which is propped on every table — is a crazy-good sidekick. 2500 Larimer St.; 303-292-3553

Jean-Philippe Failyau, founder of Park Burger, has a huge hit on his hands with Homegrown Tap & Dough, Washington Park's go-to spot for exceptional pies that command long waits, especially on weekends. The pizzas (pictured above) are yanked from a wood-burning oven, their thin crusts etched with black char, painted with white or red sauce and peppered with prime ingredients like pancetta, rosemary-scented ham, prosciutto, Gorgonzola and Brussels sprouts. 1001 S. Gaylord St.; 720-459-8736

At Esters Neighborhood Pub, a chummy kind of place that inspires conversation, the kitchen dispenses addictive thin-crusted pizzas (pictured above), made from a hybrid blend of Caputo 00 flour and high-gluten flour and baked in a 700-degree gas-fired oven. The lightly charred spheres, most of them dabbed with fresh tomato sauce, are capped with everything from housemade sausage and Fat Tire–braised pork to broccoli, corn and kale. 1950 S. Holly St.; 303-955-4143

When Frasca Food and Wine alums Bobby Stuckey, Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and Jordan Wallace opened the original Pizzeria Locale in Boulder back in 2011, it didn't just transform the college town's pizza scene: it catapulted them to national prominence. Since then, the trio has launched two additional, albeit more casual, outposts in Denver, plus a fourth in Kansas City (a fifth location in Cincinnati, Ohio, is forthcoming) and they, too, have amassed accolades. The pizzas (pictured above) — with their pliant, smoke-scented crusts, superlative ingredients and San Marzano tomato sauce — are simply sublime. Multiple locations

neapolitan pizza
deep-dish pizza
detroit-style pizza
wood-fired pizza