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Hellfire pie

To hear Nelson Rufran describe the fortuitous path that has led him to open Ruffrano's Pizzeria and Bakery (9 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs) is to begin believing that some things might just be destined.

First, the 45-year-old realtor and co-owner of Tom's Tree Service had a vivid dream around the new year about running his own pizzeria. Next, while in New York City soon after, a friend took him to Hell's Kitchen Pizza and introduced him to the owner, whom he quickly connected with. Upon returning home, he found a screamin' deal on the former Mona Lisa's Italian Ice space and went through the easiest loan process he'd ever experienced to buy the place. Lastly, he called the Hell's Kitchen owner back and talked his way into a free, week-long apprenticeship: "He showed me everything — he gave me all his recipes," says Rufran, still stunned that "things kept falling into place."

So, as of the first of August, tentatively, we'll be able to get a true taste of, among other items, the famous Hellfire pizza, complete with hot sausage, cherry peppers and pepperoni. In addition, Rufran has partnered with local, classic Italian baker Mike Hardin, who'll produce "amazing" cannoli, cheesecakes and Italian cookies for the eatery. Visit ruffranos.com soon for more.

State of bliss

Former 20-year event planner and Seattle coffee shop owner Cathy Taylor, only an eight-month Colorado resident, came up with the name for her new café while hiking on Barr Trail: "I was thinking of how I felt, and I feel total bliss here." Bliss opened a few weeks ago in Manitou Springs' spa building (934 Manitou Ave., #105, 685-9471), serving organic and fair trade Barista coffees; pastries by Little London Cakes, La Baguette and Like No Other, Etc.; and house-made, cold deli sandwiches and Hawaiian ice cones.

Too much spice?

Implying that greater Colorado Springs still lacks spice, even after multiple new outfits entered the market over the past year, Penzeys Spices (penzeys.com) plans to open two shops sometime in the fall — at 2010 Southgate Road and 7431 N. Academy Blvd. The 25-year-old, Wisconsin-based national chain began principally as a mail-order company, according to spokesperson Margie Gibbons, who says the company's central focus is freshness and high quality, in addition to aiming to beat grocery store prices. Penzeys currently has 45 stores.

À la carte

The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Dinner Show will hold its first Colorado Springs performance at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, July 10 at the Embassy Suites Hotel (7290 Commerce Center Drive, thedinnerdetective.com). Seats for the unique, four-course performance are $49.95 plus tax.

  • The back story on Ruffrano's Pizzeria and Bakery, another spice shop opens and more.

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