Big Bill’s New York Pizza
8243 South Holly Street
Centennial, CO 80122
This is the kind of place you might not notice unless a good friend told you about it. Plastered wall-to-wall with memorabilia and celebrity photos (Clint Hurdle and Denzel Washington are fans), the Centennial pizzeria is extremely popular. But it’s not just the gooey New York slices that bring in customers. And the draw is even bigger than the affable, six-feet, six-inch tall former Nuggets assistant coach Big Bill Ficke. Loyal customers know that Big Bill’s represents the generosity of our community. That part of the story started the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Ficke decided to set aside the day to give away hundreds of pizzas in exchange for disaster donations. They raised $65,000 for 9/11 victims that day, and the event has since blossomed into an annual “Day of Giving” with money going to different causes. Big Bill’s has raised tens of thousands for those in need — one year splitting the sum with a basketball team that lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. They’ve also raised money for the Joanne B. Ficke Foundation and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. (Ficke lost his wife to lymphoma in 2007.)
Zamparelli’s Italian Bistro
2770 Arapahoe Road
Lafayette, CO 80026
Owners Jimmy and Nancy Zamparelli sound like the kind of people who should be serving you pizza, and once you’ve chomped down a few slices you’ll know they mean business. The couple met at the Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York and spent time on both the east and west coasts before settling down in the Mountain Time Zone in 2006. The waitstaff is friendly and the special touches such as the gluten-free pizza crust option or the gelato for dessert make this a place worth coming back to. The Pepper, Pepper, Pepperoni is one of our favorite pizzas anywhere. It started out as one of their specials but so many people liked it — demanded it — that they gave it a permanent home on their menu. The mix is mouthwatering: roasted poblano and sweet red peppers with pepperoni, plus fontina, asiago, pecorino and mozzarella cheeses.
7167 West Alaska Drive at Belmar
The artisan pizza is thin and crunchy at The Oven and the menu is pretty creative for a pizza joint. Egg & Spinach features a sunny-side-up egg while the Urban Pineapple features fresh pineapple, bechamel sauce and roasted chicken. Things here are simply done a little bit differently — and with a little bit more care — than at most other pizza places. And if you bring the kids they get a special treat: each child gets a big ball of dough that they can form into whatever shape they want. The server then takes the dough and, after a few minutes in the huge oven, it’s steaming hot and ready to eat.
Mangia Bevi Café
6363 S. Fiddlers Green Cir.
Greenwood Village, CO 80111
It’s a little bit hard to find, but the pizza at Mangia Bevi Café will make you glad you made the extra effort to wind through the Denver Tech Center to get there. The restaurant is located in the Palazzo Verdi building and it’s only open to the public for breakfast and lunch. There are plenty of options, but the authentic Neapolitan pizzas on the lunch menu are the thing to get. Our favorite is the Soprano, a meat lover’s dream with spicy Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms and caramelized onions. The cafe is operated by Epicurean Culinary Group Inc., and CEO Larry DiPasquale is a big supporter of CBS4 partner The Adoption Exchange.
Marco’s Coal Fired Pizza
2129 Larimer Street
Denver, CO 80205
Another spot with great Neapolitan pizza, Marco’s takes its craft very seriously. Ask them to describe how seriously they take authentic ingredients and they’ll tell you about the precious flour from a third-generation family mill or the artisanal cheese imported from Italy. They feature New York style pizzas as well, with five different varieties named after each of New York’s Five Boroughs. Veggie lovers will want to check out the Queens with roasted eggplant, artichokes, peppers and mushrooms.
- By Jesse Sarles for CBSDenver.com