Colorado Boy Pizza and Brewery on Main Street in Montrose attracts friends and family of all ages. © Lu Anne Tyrrell
By Jesse Wilson
Originally published: May/June 2017
Many people take no small amount of pride in finding their favorite local pizza joints, but these places can often be hit-or-miss. Below are four exceptional local pizza parlors across Colorado, each with their own unique spin on what makes a great Colorado pizza. If you find yourself near one, check it out and decide for yourself. After all, one of the best things about pizza is all the different ways that it can be made and still taste delicious.
320 E. Main St., Montrose, 970-240-2790
For some of the best pizza out near the Western Slope, look no further than Colorado Boy Pizza & Brewery. Nestled in the downtown area of Montrose, Colorado Boy has quickly become a local favorite since owners Tom and Sandy Hennessey first opened the location in 2013. The restaurant has a chic-casual vibe with a warmly lit interior anchored by the gas-fire oven and exposed brick walls. You’ll even spy some of the large brewing tanks in the corner.
Colorado Boy (named for a local mine) specializes in an Italian-style pizza, baking the 11-inch personal pies over a gas-fire oven. The artisan pizzas have a delicious, soft crust that’s thinner and lighter than most pizzas, and they only use the freshest, local ingredients purchased from nearby farms. The quality is evident in the taste. Each pizza is less than $10, and one of the best BBQ pizzas I’ve ever had is the Pineapple Pie, made with BBQ sauce, pineapple, mozzarella, capicola, and hot garlic oil. Since they only do 11-inch pies, it’s the perfect place to go if everyone prefers a different type of pizza. Pair them with one of Colorado Boy’s own beers and you’ve got yourself a fine night out.
2069 First St., Alamosa, 719-589-4749
Tucked away in the southern Colorado town of Alamosa is a AAA Two Diamond-rated gem, the San Luis Valley Pizza Company. When veteran pizza-maker Randall Pierson moved to the San Luis Valley, he opened a not-too-fancy, affordable parlor with extraordinary food, such as the monstrous 28-inch “Grand Daddy” that’s as big as a table, and made with fresh, never-frozen ingredients.
You can taste the difference in the homemade dough and sauce, as well as the restaurant’s impressive variety of calzones, soups, salads, wings, and some appetizers you wouldn’t expect to see in a small-town pizzeria. The food so impressed residents that SLV Pizza quickly became the top-rated pizza place in the area.
Pierson also serves what he says may be the hottest chicken wings in Colorado, and backed up his claim by offering a free sample of a wing covered in his hottest sauce, “The Source,” made with ghost pepper extract.
The hotness of any pepper is measured in Scoville units. Jalapeño peppers can range from 1,000–20,000 units. Habanero peppers range from 100,000–350,000 Scoville units. The famous ghost pepper (bhut jolokia) tests at around one million units. “The Source” sauce is seven times hotter than the ghost pepper.
242 F St., Salida, 719-539-4277
Near the banks of the Arkansas River, lies one of Colorado’s best-kept pizza secrets, the AAA Two-Diamond rated Moonlight Pizza and Brewpub, a Salida institution for two decades. Earlier this year, the owners decided to sell to long-time employees who wanted to keep the pizza and place they loved going strong. They added the brewery the same year, and now produce seven rotating beers and four delicious craft sodas. Grab one to go with your pizza and enjoy them both on the large outdoor dining area while you toss some bags under the Colorado sun.
Inside, Moonlight has a bohemian vibe, with local art on the walls to go with their funky, specialty pizzas. Moonlight is known for its crust, and you can’t go wrong with any pizza, but don’t skip on the Mirkwood Chicken pizza that includes grilled chicken, onions, BBQ sauce, cream cheese, and green chili, providing a flavor balance that is just right for an incredible pie. They use only fresh ingredients and try to buy local as much as possible. Speaking of local, every Monday, Moonlight gives 10 percent of its proceeds to a different Salida-area charity; it’s their way of saying “thank you” to the community that has embraced and supported them for years.
303 Elk Ave., Crested Butte, 970-349-6245
This popular AAA Two Diamond-rated pizza parlor often has a short wait, but it’s well worth it. The interior is lined with a mix of ski-bum décor and Himalayan art and throw blankets, giving the joint a funky eastern vibe. And while the décor is avant garde, the pizza certainly lives up its reputation as the “Best Pizza in Crested Butte” 15 years running.
There’s nothing wrong with choosing a classic taste like the simple and pure pepperoni pizza, but be bold in this setting and order a house specialty pie such as the Steazy Rider featuring ricotta cheese, beef, shrimp, cream cheese, bacon, pineapple, jalapeño, garlic, green onions, and cilantro. Now’s that a pizza you won’t find too many other places. No matter which way you order, here’s a pro-tip: start with delicious appetizer such as the crack fries or the stuffed mushrooms. You won’t regret it. Plus, if you have any leftover food, cold pizza makes for a great midday lunch after a morning on the slopes.
Jesse Wilson writes frequently for Explorers Hub, a travel-oriented blog at AAA.com