“This reminds me of Pepe’s,” says my friend Laura as we sit on the patio of Boulder’s Barchetta tasting a Margherita pizza.
Laura comes by her pizza street cred legitimately and is unafraid to critique a crust. She grew up studying pizza in Connecticut and New York City and has sampled the best pizzas of our generation in the Boulder-Denver area. Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven, Connecticut, is widely regarded as one of the top five best pizzerias in America.
We agree that it’s all about the crust. “This crust is chewy outside, soft inside. It has the perfect dough bubbles and black char. It’s not burned, it’s charred, just enough,” Laura says.
Such a wheat-y, foldable crust requires a professional pizza tender who moves the pie around in the oven until it reaches perfection. “I usually don’t eat the leftover crust but this is great,” she says.
The benchmark Queen is a classic Neapolitan Margherita. Barchetta graces the top with the right amount of simple tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, grated mozzarella, grated Parmesan, garlic and fresh basil. “The cheese layer is thin. It has that kind of lacy and mottled look,” Laura says. The fresh basil leaves were whole, not chopped. Too much basil and it borders on pesto.
While the Margherita is satisfying and the slice to feed someone who’s never tasted real pizza, Barchetta’s seasonal Spicy Potato Boy is downright alluring.
You’ve got a veneer of small roast potato chunks, crispy guanciale, mozzarella, rosemary, grated Parmesan, cured duck egg yolk and Calabrian chilies. The egg is crumbled and adds a breakfast hint along with the bacon-y flavor and some chile heat. It sounds like a complex, too-fancy pizza, but it tastes great together. It’s a party. It’s a pizza you want to bite into again soon.
Barchetta founder and chef Jesse Jensen comes from a strong local pizza lineage, having worked at Basta, and as Chef de Cuisine for Pizzeria Locale, located two blocks from Barchetta.
Jensen’s pizza roster also includes the Rallier (cheese, sausage, pepperoni, onion, green olives and pickled jalapeño) and the Hapa-Haole (cheese, ham, pineapple, green onions and Palisade peach hot sauce).
Barchetta’s menu also features broccolini with lemon, meatballs with marinara, polenta with lamb ragu, and house-baked bread with options like Prosciutto San Danielle, Salami Toscano, Midnight Moon Goat Gouda from Cypress Grove and Burrata Di Stefano.
There has always been something about restaurant wine-by-the-glass menus that bothered me: What if I don’t want a whole glass of pinot noir or even a half glass? Why can’t I order exactly the amount of wine I want? Sometimes you want a sip and sometimes you know you’ll finish a full tumbler.
Barchetta answers the question with a cool self-service tap system for beer and wine you can sample by the ounce. We enjoyed two appealing Italian reds—a Super-Tuscan and a Sangiovese.
As a final Barchetta bonus, the pizzeria bakes a fine scratch-made, warm, lightly salted, buttery chocolate chunk cookie.
Recipe Flashback: Zolo Grill
During my time as a Boulder food editor, readers have requested recipes for many of their favorite dishes at local restaurants. Some have been kind enough to share a recipe for home cooks. Here’s a favorite from Zolo Grill, which closed in 2020 after 26 years of serving Southwestern fare in Boulder. The reader back in the 1990s requested the made-to-order guacamole nostalgically as she had gone into labor with her first child shortly after eating it at the restaurant.
Zolo Grill Guacamole
2 medium avocados, peeled, pitted
1 tablespoon minced red onion
¼ teaspoon minced fresh garlic
½ teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon minced serrano chile
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Pinch ground molido chile or cayenne
Combine all ingredients and mash to medium-coarse consistency. Do not overmash. Because the size of avocados varies significantly, taste and adjust seasonings.
Local Food Calendar
Your fingers and toes may be chilled to the bone but now is the time to reserve a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share at Boulder County’s farms if you want to munch organic carrots every week this summer. If you wait until spring, many of the farms’ CSAs will be sold out. . . . Slow Food Denver has launched the inaugural local Snail of Approval Awards. The awards are open to Denver-metro and Boulder County restaurants, bars, food companies, and farms dedicated to sustainable sourcing, cultural and community involvement and positive business values. Info: slowfooddenver.org . . . Upcoming event: Scotch Tasting, Feb. 18, Outworld Brewing, Longmont. Info: outworldbrewing.com . . . Send information on Boulder food events, classes, tasting and festivals to: