Duca's Neapolitan Pizza
236 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 247-8830, ducaspizza.com
Despite some issues with consistency, I've always been a big Duca's backer, so it was exciting to hear the local restaurant was opening a second location on the south end of town. The new spot feels sophisticated and relaxed, with white subway tile against dark wood and modern lighting. Two more of those impressive Stefano Ferrara Napoli ovens backstop the open kitchen.
Employees wandering the dining room tend toward the over-attentive, but it doesn't hurt. The Capricciosa ($10.95) rocks fragrant basil, and gets pretty wet from flavorful artichokes, mushrooms and Kalamata olives. Like other pies, though, it features a beautiful, light tomato sauce and some of the best crust/bread in the city. A soppressata flatbread ($8) brings lots of great chew and a sweet balsamic, next to a popping arugula house salad ($4.25) topped with fatty chunks of blue cheese and pine nuts. — Bryce Crawford
Mountain Shadows Restaurant
2223 W. Colorado Ave, 633-2122, goo.gl/1Yuy5L
After our fish-and-chips food fight in this year's Bites issue, I heard from a reader suggesting I head here for Friday all-you-can-eat fish and chips, his favorite in town. Owner Kasie Swain, who bought the spot from her former employer five years ago, says the fish feast ($9.99) has been a tradition as long as she can remember.
She batters cigar-sized cod fingers in Bristol's Beehive Honey Wheat, frying them dark to a nice exterior crunch with a dense breading that gives them fortitude and no mushy quality. Apparently, some guy once ate 32 in a sitting. (Moan.) A caper-salted but sweet house tartar receives them well, while side slaw's fresh and crunchy and "chips" are American-style, thinly house-sliced potato chips, also fried dark (mostly). I finish with a Colorado Bread Company "cronut" ($3), which is fine as a donut but not nearly airy and layered enough internally to capture NYC's (now-old-news) real deal. — Matthew Schniper
3317 Cinema Point, 247-9504, wobblyolive.com
The WO continues to kill it with creativity. It even shakes me from my chicken-and-waffle fatigue, with a stellar rendition ($10) built upon buckwheat and sesame seed waffles deep-fried for a crunchy exterior. Buttermilk-and-hot-sauce-soaked fried chicken pieces receive Grana Padano (nutty, Italian hard cheese) shavings plus lavender honey and/or real maple syrup. (Brunch starts Easter; chef Bobby Odom's summer menu launches mid May-ish.)
The movie-inspired Dragon's Breath ($9) is its own show. Manager/co-creator Phil Arana details it: Peppermint Schnapps is lit afire in a pint glass and poured onto a plate around a shot of amaretto and hazelnut liqueur. The pint glass is then held above the shot to capture alcohol vapors. Then it's set down, the fire extinguished, and you place ice in your hand, put the glass over it and shake to condense the vapors into a cloud, which you inhale like a bong rip, then take the shot. Fun! — Matthew Schniper