Black Forest Pies & Grinders
11470 Black Forest Road, 495-8555, blackforestpiesandgrinders.com
A pal recommends BFPG, and though I've never been a huge Philly guy before, I'm impressed by its cheesesteak ($7.99, includes fries). The soft, chewy Amoroso's hoagie yields to Provolone-cloaked, peppery beef shavings bearing the sweat and topping of sautéed onions, peppers and jalapeños.
MaiLe and Dan Dreyfuss owned the shop from 2001 to 2005 before moving back east; they returned in 2011 to restore the glory. (Four other outfits of various sorts had tried and died in between.) They cook their pizzas on screens for 20 minutes at 500 degrees, then flash them directly on the stone-oven floor for the last minute, resulting in a great, crunchy crust on both thin and thick renditions. The white-sauced artichoke spinach pie ($10.49/10-inch) beautifully balances brine with garlic bite. Our custom, like-sized jalapeño, bleu cheese, bacon and pineapple pie ($6.99 plus 99 cents a topping) manages a lovely sweet-heat-funk fusion. — Matthew Schniper
Rosario's on the Riverwalk
101 S. Main St., #200, Pueblo, 719/404-4283, rosariospueblo.com
Rosario's menu defines "florid." One "magical, culinary aphrodisiac delight," actually a Roman salad, basically promises to get you laid, while the house Bolognese sauce is "zesty, rich, tasty and hearty." You get the picture. But it's intentional shtick, related to operator Tony Ianne's Mob Cheff cookbook and show. (See themobcheff.com.)
What's real is Ianne's checkered history, namely three years of probation for conspiracy to commit a computer crime. (More than 70 other charges were dropped with his guilty plea in 2011.) "I figured I'd embrace that publicity in a good way," he recently told KOAA. Also real: the culinary history of Ianne's family, and a killer house cheesecake. Meatballs are obscenely big and better than the fennel-bomb house sausage. Pastas en papillote (cooked in parchment) prove unique, if pointless for supposed flavor infusion, while the gnocchi rates serviceable. I can't fathom steak-and-potato soup on a 90-degree day, but $7 to $15 for lunch plates isn't criminal. — Matthew Schniper
Sporting News Grill
1855 Aeroplaza Drive, 380-8516, facebook.com/SNGCOS
For travelers passing through the attached Holiday Inn Airport, the Sporting News Grill proffers a fine lunch, dinner or happy hour spot, but nothing to tweet home about. The jägerschnitzel ($12) earns its price point with a mighty slab of breaded, fried pork cutlet, served with red cabbage and "hunter sauce," actually a brown gravy with mushrooms. The cutlet stands a little heavy on breading, and the gravy lacks depth, but both make for a juicy bite. For sides, roasted vegetables bury cooked-through veggies under garlic butter flavor; go instead with the sweet potato fries, piled high and cut thin, as goddess intended.
From the cocktail list, try the Citrus Mist ($6), a blend of Three Olives citrus vodka, Bols triple sec, grapefruit juice and pineapple juice served in a highball glass on the rocks. The grapefruit bitterness balances the pineapple sweetness for a surprisingly well-balanced, if mildly citrusy, sip. With more vodka, this could be a serious martini. — Griffin Swartzell