I don’t travel to Downtown Denver much. I live on the outskirts of the metro area, work ten miles from where I live, and the furthest I drive is twenty miles to my favorite used bookstore. The only reason I found myself walking Broadway a few weeks ago was because my sister and her boyfriend were in town for a visit and we were looking to do some antique shopping and sightseeing.
We never did get to the antique shopping. I may have under-exaggerated when I said I don’t get downtown much. It’s been years and Broadway doesn’t look much like I remember. Many stores have closed and others, selling products now legal in the state of Colorado, have opened. Perhaps we didn’t travel down Broadway far enough for the antique and consignment stores: perhaps they no longer exist. No matter. My sister and I enjoyed being together and her boyfriend found a car wash so the day wasn’t a complete bust. And, we found a place to have lunch together.
After wandering the street peering into windows, we were getting hungry. My sister’s boyfriend suggested the Pizzeria to which we’d parked close and I made no demur. Neither my sister nor her boyfriend are vegan and I wonder if I sensed a touch of panic at the thought I might suggest a place that served weird stuff like tofu and grass (the kind you mow not the kind you smoke: although, in this day and age…). My sister did lean in and ask sotto voice; “can you eat at a pizzeria?” The answer? Yes I can!
The pizzeria the three of us patronized was Pizzeria Locale located close to Broadway and 6th. A vegan can absolutely eat there as a build-your-own-pizza option is offered and there is a gluten-free crust available for those who need it. A friendly staff member added my veggies, asked if I wanted chili-infused olive oil (of course I did) and was delighted to sprinkle both oregano and chili pepper flakes on my concoction. My personal pizza, which could have fed two, was then loaded into the rotating oven to be fire roasted. I was concerned all my additions were going to cost a pretty penny but I added a bottle of water and a can of blood orange Pelligrino (both of which I took home and recycled) and my ticket was less than ten dollars. As I could only eat half the pizza in the restaurant, I got two meals out of it which made me feel like my dollars stretched a bit further.
My only complaint about the pizza is the fact that it didn’t cook in the middle. It wasn’t raw but was a little soggy. Perhaps it needed another half revolution through the oven but the soggy middle wasn’t inedible. The marinara had a strong tomato flavor: not unpleasant but lacking in the layers of taste to which I’ve grown accustomed. If I may toot my own horn for a moment: I consider myself an excellent cook and my marinara is amazing. I think my home cooked tastes have spoiled my palate. So, again the pizza wasn’t inedible it just wasn’t as flavorful as I’ve grown to expect. I will say that Pizzeria Locale is very vegan friendly so if you find yourself wandering Broadway in Denver, you’re safe to give it a try.
I had a pleasant experience at Pizzeria Locale. I found the staff friendly, the food okay, and, while I did have to wipe down my own table; the restaurant was fairly clean. My sister’s boyfriend didn’t have the same experience. He chose to build his own pizza as well and asked for cheese as well as the different types of meat offered. He told me the waitress approached him, commented on the fact that there was a lot of meat on his pizza, looked him over from head to toe, and suggested he might want to re-think his food choices.
I did not hear this. My sister said she knew the waitress had said something but didn’t catch what it had been. My sister’s boyfriend said he’d decided to let it go but it was obvious he was upset. I want to give the waitress the benefit of the doubt and assume she meant her comments to be helpful rather than hurtful but I don’t know anyone capable of taking unsolicited criticism from a stranger. I admire my sister’s boyfriend for walking away. I don’t know what I would have done and I can guess what my sister would have done. The waitress was fortunate. So, be warned. The staff at Pizzeria Locale apparently has strong opinions as to what you should eat and no compunction about expressing them to your face.
Ultimately, it is a vegan friendly place but not, perhaps, a human friendly place. I don’t see myself ever eating there again.