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Basil & Barley Pizzeria Napoletana advances dining in the Springs 

click to enlarge Basil & Barley’s superlative pizzas stand apart in town. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Basil & Barley’s superlative pizzas stand apart in town.
Owner/chef Roberto Calcagno’s restaurant, Basil & Barley Pizzeria Napoletana, is the kind of place we didn’t expect to see in the Springs this soon. For the myriad quality restaurants in town, we remain behind the trend-setting cities in terms of fostering super authentic or forward-thinking restaurants. In that, Calcagno’s restaurant rates revelatory — even with a food so ubiquitous in America as pizza, there’s an ocean between what’s accepted here and what’s done in Italy.

It’s not just in the imported toppings and equipment, either. Most prominent, pizzas arrive on table fresh out of the wood-fired oven (shipped from Naples) and, barring customer request, un-sliced, served with sturdy gourmet cutlery. Price-wise, they range from $12 to $20.

From the classics page of the menu, we first test a Margherita pizza: tomato sauce, blobs of fior di latte (cow’s milk) mozzarella, Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese, basil and a swirl of extra virgin olive oil. The sauce shows a nice balance between sweet and acidic, and with creamy cheese, subtle basil and the oven’s oak-fired scorch on the crust, it’s a lovely pizza. Size-wise, it’s light eating — filling, but not difficult to finish solo in one sitting.

Another classic, the Diavola, pairs soppressata with Calabrian peppers and basil, again with tomato sauce and mozzarella. The soppressata’s huge, bursting with meaty, peppery flavor, with basil standing out and peppers adding bursts of freshness and fruity brightness. It stuns with every bite.
Location Details Basil & Barley Pizzeria Napoletana
9278 Forest Bluffs View
Briargate
Colorado Springs, CO
Pizza
Calcagno’s “signature” pizzas deviate from true Neapolitan orthodoxy, incorporating different sauces and crusts, including germinated buckwheat, hemp and whole grain barley. The Basil and Barley pie uses, appropriately enough, the barley dough, which picks up a huge amount of char and wood smoke flavor. That plays a major role, along with smoked provolone, next to porchetta marinated in Dueces Wild Brewery’s blood orange pale ale that adds little beery notes that play well with the aromatic additions made by dried orange slices (cooked enough to eat whole without blinking, adding minimal acid or overt fruity flavor).

For those averse to big roasty flavors, the hemp dough picks up less than the traditional Neapolitan crust, bearing light nutty elements. Try it on the Coloradoan, served with subtle butternut squash cream sauce, Pueblo green chiles, porchetta and tomato confit. It holds a respectable chile kick, but the tender porchetta’s savoriness plays naturally with the peppers, and the bright tomatoes finish clean, for another beautiful pizza experience.

And beyond the pizza, Basil & Barley continues to deliver hit after hit. The Dell’orto salad’s a delight, rich with grilled and chilled veggies on spring mix with a creamy, peppery dressing. For appetizers, panzarotti (dough half moons) come three to a plate, fried to a delicate doneness and packed with delicious cheese and mushrooms. For house-made desserts, tiramisu lands rich, yet not heavy — the ladyfingers get a quick dip in espresso and Amaro Nonino, and the mascarpone’s a delight. Baba au rhum strikes lightly boozy notes, custardy with a spongy, springy yeast cake and cinnamon to spare, only mildly sweet. Even the limoncello-based cocktail we try, the basil berry, comes sour and aromatic, a refreshing drink that necessitates its sugar rim.

We’re so impressed by Basil & Barley overall that we wonder if it’s being embraced by the neighborhood (near the chain-centric Promenade Shops at Briargate) and wider city, for how different it is from the typical pizza stop. A manager tells us so far, the support’s there. That’s a step in the right direction and a sign of promise.

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