Thirteen old-fashioned pizza restaurants to try in Denver
Denver’s pizza scene is changing. Neapolitan pizza has grown in popularity since the opening of Cart-Driver in 2014; Detroit-style rectangular pies like those from Blue Pan are cutting edge; pies made on a sourdough crust are a staple in new places like Joy Hill, Redeemer and the Greenwich.
And while it’s common for its people to bemoan the lack of good options in the city, there are plenty of long-standing staples that have been a part of the pizza game for decades, where you can score a reliable pie – along with other Italian-American classics.
Here are thirteen old-fashioned pizza restaurants that have stood the test of time in Mile High.
Those who grew up on East Coast pizza may be skeptical of Beau Jo’s ‘Colorado Mountain Pies’, which are hand-rolled around the edges to hold a stack of toppings, but since the Opening its first location in Idaho Springs in 1978, it’s won a lot of fans and grown at six locations across the state. Sold by the pound with honey on the side to dip your crust on, these pies are a favorite with outdoor enthusiasts who make a detour to I-70 to fill up after a long day in the hills. These days Beau Jo’s also offers more traditional “prairie pies” and cauliflower and gluten-free crust options alongside its menu of starters, salads, calzones and more.
3812 West 38th Avenue
When North Denver was simply called the Northside, the neighborhood was filled with the Italian restaurants that have fueled the neighborhood for decades. And while most – including Patsy’s, Pagliacci’s, Carbone’s, and Longo’s Subway Tavern – are long gone, Carl is staying. Surrounded by trendy spots in what today is called the Highlands district, this spot which opened in 1953 hasn’t changed much since. Now owned by John Ludwig, who landed his first job at Carl at the age of sixteen in 1976, it has retained its old-fashioned, no-frills atmosphere – and still serves homemade sausages, calzones, pasta, pizza on a not too-thin crust, not too thick and more.
1990 Boulevard Wadsworth, Lakewood
Husband and wife Chris and Lindsay Lyons bought the thirty-plus-year-old Deli Italia in 2018 and saw the potential to transform it from an Italian market into a full-service restaurant. It now offers a varied menu, including subs, appetizers, salads and a revamped version of pizza. Lindsay grew up in Boston and Chris grew up between New York and Germany, so they like to say their pizza is kind of a hybrid, with influences from each of those places. It’s a thin crust, and they’re constantly experimenting to create new, unique flavor profiles. The “Specktacular” pie includes speck, oregano, pepperoncini, mozzarella and goat cheese, and the “PWA” includes jalapeño, pepperoni, onions, hot honey, cheese and topping still controversial, pineapple. The Lyons pride themselves on running a true mom-and-pop style pizzeria where everything is made from scratch.
Frank the Pizza King
4701 South Broadway, Englewood
Founded in 1961 by Frank Krascek, this longtime Englewood staple is now run by Walter (Frank’s son) and Maria Krascek. Along with the medium crust pies, which are the main draw, the sixty-year-old joint also offers homemade sausage sandwiches, Italian subs, and other dinner-style dishes.
that of Giuseppe
5600 Dartmouth Avenue West
Owner Antoinette Russo opened Giuseppe’s in 1988 after arriving in Denver from Naples. The sauce, dough, sausage, and meatballs are all made here, and the pizzas are made by hand. The menu offers various options for pizza, including a gluten-free crust, as well as calzones, stromboli, entrees like lasagna and spaghetti, as well as sandwiches and salads.
3609 Tejon Street
A staple in North Denver since 1961, Lechuga’s is a family-run Italian restaurant well known for its sausage canoli and square pizza. It started as Carbone’s bakery, an Italian market and sandwich shop now closed. From there Lechuga’s became a restaurant and kept its recipes the same from day one. The “spaghetti plate” is a unique dish that includes canoli with a side of spaghetti. Lechuga’s has successfully served the Northside for generations and remains a staple for many Denver locals looking for good old-fashioned pizza and Italian cuisine.
Original Broom Field Pizza
1300 West Midway Boulevard, Broomfield
Raffaele, Carmela, and Carmela’s father, Giuseppe Aiello, opened Original Pizza in Broomfield in 1991. They were all born in Italy and came to Colorado with the goal of bringing the best pizza and Italian food to this region. The menu features Sicilian and New York pizzas, sandwiches, calzones, and lunch and dinner specials.
Pietra’s Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant
9045 West 44th Avenue, Wheat Ridge
Since 1964, the family-owned Pietra’s has served home-cooked Italian fare including pizza, soups, salads, sandwiches, canoli, pasta and more in Northwest Denver. It’s secret? It hasn’t changed anything since it opened 58 years ago.
3499 32nd Avenue West
Even though the Northside has evolved into what is now called the Highland Quarter, Pizza Alley has remained constant at the corner of 32nd and Lowell, serving the same recipes as the original owners on day one. Pizza Alley has seen four separate owners since it opened in 1976; the most recent owner bought it in 2020. The menu features longtime favorites like New York-style pies available whole or by the slice, calzones, pasta and sub-sandwiches.
Romano’s Italian Restaurant
5666 South Windermere Street, Littleton
The Romano family arrived in America from Italy by boat in the early 1900s, and Patriarch Giovanni pushed a cart through the streets of New York. In 1967, his grandchildren Neil and Ellie Romano opened Romano’s in Littleton; there were only three tables at the time. Today it is owned by Neil and Ellie’s son John, daughter Sue Romano Calhoun and John and Sue’s niece Jordan. The restaurant stays true to the family’s roots on the East Coast and offers a varied menu that includes Italian brick oven pizzas and calzones, pastas, seafood dishes, and some of the best lunchtime specials.
8410, boulevard Wadsworth, Arvada
Since 1977, Santeramo’s has been a local neighborhood establishment in Arvada that prides itself on the quality of its New York-style pizza, which is baked in a stone oven. The menu also includes pasta, salads, sandwiches and Sugar Fritas, a sopaipilla-type treat made from pizza dough.
Italian restaurant 3 sons
14805 West 64th Avenue, Arvada
Susan and Michael Scarafiotti purchased 3 Sons in 2004 from its original owners, the Sannino family, who opened the restaurant in 1964. The Scarafiotti, with decades of restaurant experience to their credit, have revamped the menu, redecorated the dining room and created 3 Sons. theirs. In addition to its specialty pizzas, the restaurant offers Italian dishes like pasta, as well as dinner specials like fried chicken on Mondays.
Vinnola Italian market
7750 West 38th Avenue, Wheat Ridge
Vinnola’s has been around for almost fifty years and brings together a market, a bakery, a delicatessen, a bakery and a restaurant under one roof. When it was founded, the original owners Mike and Lorene Vinnola focused primarily on the bakery; some of their original recipes, such as bread dough, are still used today. Besides pizza, which is available fresh and as a takeout, some of the most popular items from Italian bakers Salvatore Giacalone and Marla Crum are butter cookies, bread, cannoli, and lasagna.