A 16 at Pizzeria Locale- a culinary excursion to Napoli, via A 16 San Francisco, in Boulder, CO

Pizzeria Locale is my neighborhood pizzeria. I live one block away and take great pleasure in their contemporary Napolitano style pizza. Their pizzaiolo, Jordan Wallace, studied the art of pizza in Napoli, and I dare say he’s one of the best pizzaioli in the US, especially if we’re talking about pizzaioli who serve the wet, uncut Napoli style pizza.

When Locale announced their first guest pizzaiolo event with Chris Thompson of A 16, San Francisco, I cleared some space in my calendar.  The A 16 dinner was three courses for $18 per person, which, by the way, is the most reasonably priced meal I’ve had in a long time.  As with any visit to Pizzeria Locale, we started out with some spritzers. I enjoyed the IPA (Indian Pale Americano) spritz which, like a traditional Americano cocktail, features Campari, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, soda water, and some of their house made hops bitters. My friend Matt, a total gourmand who had not yet been to the pizzeria, enjoyed a Rabarbaro Zucca spritz- a simple spritz of dark amaro and soda water. I’m also constantly craving Locale’s arancini, so we ordered four perfectly crispy balls of risotto to go with our spritzers.

And let’s not forget to mention the lovely couple across from us that evening: Lacey and Paul of DiNalo Glassware. You’ll see some fine glass straws in my drinks in this post and from now on- Once you sip a cocktail from a DiNalo straw…

IPA (Indian Pale Americano) spritz which, like a traditional Americano cocktail, features Campari, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, soda water, and some of their house made hops bitters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First came our insalata with escarole, pickled and roasted grapes, caciocavallo, and saba.

I never even read the menu, so my first bite of salad with the grapes was quite a pleasant surprise. Why didn’t I read the menu? It was a bit hectic… There were so many pizza fans dining out that evening, that I walked in to a bustling pizzeria full of friends, associates, and Locale staff, all eager to say hi, chit chat… and then once I brought out the glass straws… talk about a conversation piece.  They’re pretty in Locale’s water glasses-

Anyway, arancini, check. Insalata, check. Next in line was Le Pizze- either a bianca with mozzarella di bufala, radicchio di treviso, prosciutto cotto, garlic, oregano, and parmesan, or una rossa with provola di bufala, cavolo nero kale, tomato, red onion, parmesan, and chili flakes. How is one to choose? Well, between the four of us we ordered two of each. Simple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are few things that I enjoy more than eating pizza with a knife and fork, by the way.  That’s just one small reason I’m such a huge fan of this place. But, I got to see a side of Locale I’d not known before- They were so crowded when we arrived that they set up the Caffè with a four-top and a two-top. It was a more private dining experience being in the cozy private room (known as Frasca’s caffè during the day), yet we were attended to as you’d expect within the Frasca family of establishments.

Let’s see, dear reader… what else happened? We enjoyed a bottle of southern Italian red wine with the meal (it doesn’t matter which bottle, it was quite drinkable with pizza and friends), and before dessert, I left the private dining room to say hi to some people and snap photos. Next thing I knew, manager Chris Donato was bringing my friends on a mini private food tour to check out the kitchen and get a behind the scenes view of the pizzeria. I jumped on board, of course. I love getting near the 1000 degree Stefano Ferrara pizza oven. That right there is something worth writing home about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We returned to our table and found some dolce there- we had a chocolate budino with sea salt and olive oil, which I had actually been looking forward to all day since Locale posted a photo of it on their Facebook page earlier that morning.  We also sipped, in the Italian tradition, a little amaro while guest Chef Chris Thompson was at our table talking about pizza, pizzerias, being a guest chef at Locale… and all kinds of food topics, such as glass straws, that we were able to squeeze into the few minutes he had to say hello.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing this makes me want to go to Pizzeria Locale for dinner tonight, as I truly believe that any day is a perfect day for a Locale pizza. But, more to the point- I’m looking forward to future guest chef evenings at Locale. It’s a great way to bring a little bit of the rest of the world into our perfect little Boulder bubble while sharing great pizza.

The Organic Pizza Company

The Organic Pizza Company. Who/What is that? It’s a great take and bake pizza company and if you’re near a Denver metro location, pick up a pie for dinner.
Our private tasting event at the OPC’s new location in The Spire building started with a pizza making demo. It is all done by scratch- dough and all, and there aren’t any crazy funky ingredients either. The Organic Pizza Company makes pies like you would at home and they source organic ingredients.
We headed to a private dining area and were greeted with lots of good wines.

Then the pizzas started coming…

I ate a few pieces and got caught up in conversation. I soon realized that all of those wines were not some random wines for us to taste. The Organic Pizza Company partners with local liquor stores to provide pizza buyers with wine pairing suggestions for each pizza. I love this idea! You can plan an affordable pairing base on some great suggestions from wine enthusiasts.

I think the wine pairing idea is so good it’s copy-worthy. Really. Copy-worthy. Consumers often like a little help with this part of dinner, so I like that The Organic Pizza Company has thought this out.

They offer a gluten free pizza with Udi’s gluten free crust. I had a slice and it was really good. You can order any one of their pies gluten free.
At first, I payed a lot of attention as each pie was presented.

And then I got so caught up in conversation I found myself snapping photos way after people had served themselves.

In the end- I not only had a great time meeting people, drinking wine, and eating great pizzas… I got to take one home with me to bake on my pizza stone.

I ordered the Norwegian pie that comes topped with smoked salmon. It baked up nicely and my hungry man, who had not been eating pizzas with me all night, was happy I came home with dinner. The pizza baked well according to their baking instructions, and to me, that’s the most important part. It’s good to know that the pie actually bakes at home the way it is supposed to.

There are currently two Organic Pizza Company locations-
Denver Highlands- 4500 W 38th Ave 303-561-1111
and downtown Denver- 891 14th St 303-534-2223
They also deliver within 2 miles of their locations.

Pizzeria da Lupo, Boulder

Anyone following the food scene in Boulder knows that we now have more phenomenal pizzerias per capita than anywhere outside of Italy.  Where did I get that statistic? I made it up, but it seems to be true lately.  In my latest taste-test of our primo-pizzerias, I went to Pizzeria da Lupo, which is located right next to Larkburger in the Village Shopping Center.  Where is that?  It’s where McGuckin’s is, silly.
Anyway, let’s get back to the pizzeria…  Walking in, this place felt like a pizzeria.  I don’t know how to describe that exactly, but there was a familiar feel to the open kitchen, small tables, and unpretentious decoration.  I could have been in a pizzeria back in Jersey as a kid.  That’s what it felt like, I suppose.
But, unlike a kid, I started with some wine…
I tried the Cinquepassi Negroamaro from Puglia, Italy.  I can’t recall ever trying this variety before, so I went for it.  Good choice.
I also really liked that they gave us a small plate with some sea salt, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, and shaved parmesan.  That is exactly what you need with pizza and it was great to have it right there to pinch some if you wanted it.  Nice touch.

We started with the shaved brussel sprout, pecorino, and walnut salad.  It was great, and I’d order it again.  I eat enough “standard” salads at home, so it’s always nice to order something different when we go out.

We also split the burrata.  I’ve realized that if I go somewhere and burrata is on the menu, I order it.  Pizzeria da Lupo serves burrata with pistachio, lemon confit, caper agrodulce, and flatbread.  As I was eating it I wished I had ordered a few servings of that for dinner.  But then… the pizza arrived.

We got two pies: I wanted the bianco, which was topped with house made mozzarella, reggiano parmesan, ricotta, and arugula.  They served the pies on cool two-tiered wire racks.  Another nice touch.

Kevin had the pancetta pie topped with bacon, caramelized onion, and scamorze cheese.  He basically said it was one of the best pies he’s eaten outside of Italy.  But, mind you… we’ve only been to northern Italy and over-indulged in northern style pizza.  Looks like we need to travel to the south for traditional Napoli pies to make an educated comparison.

And now… for the most important detail of a pizza… the crust.  Pizzeria da Lupo is doing something right because their crust is light and airy with just enough crunch and chew to make it almost addictive.  Even when I was full I went back for one more slice.  And then when we got home with left-overs I went back again for my last slice.  Come to think of it, it would be nice to have another slice right about now.
So go check them out.  Pizzeria da Lupo is new, so give them a try.  
2525 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, CO 80302. 
303-396-6366
Order some pies and let me know what you think.

Olive Flatbread

Is it pizza or is it flatbread?  I don’t really know.  I think I’d call it pizza if it had one or two more ingredients on it, but this simple pizza-like flatbread was just brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with Spanish Roasted Black Olive Sea Salt (which you can find, of course, at Savory Spice Shop), some sliced olives (I got a mixed container of olives from the olive bar at Whole Foods), and some grated parmesan cheese.
So, maybe it’s a flatbread.  But, I used a pizza crust recipe…. hmmm… 
For my crust:
In a large pyrex measuring cup, mix 1 1/3 cup warm water, 1 TB yeast, and a spoon full of sugar.  Let this dissolve and sit for approximately 10 minutes.  Your yeast should get nice and frothy, which lets you know it is alive.
In your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, measure out 3 cups unbleached bread flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour, a pinch of sea salt, and some freshly ground black pepper.  Mix this for a few seconds with the dough hook before slowly adding the liquid and a couple tablespoons of olive oil.  Knead this in the mixer, adding a little more flour as needed, for 10 minutes or so until it is a nice, smooth dough ball that isn’t sticky.
Then cover the bowl- I usually put wax paper over the bowl and then cover that with a dish towel.  Place the bowl in a warm area (not a hot oven) to double in size over the next hour or so.  Then, punch it down and start rolling out crusts, or flatbreads.
I like baking my pizzas and flatbreads on a baking stone in a 425 degree oven.  They cook in no time. Enjoy!
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