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Northside pizzeria excels with simple treatments of fresh ingredients 

TRUST THE CRUST

click to enlarge Three days of fermentation yields dough that bakes crisp on the outside, soft inside. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Three days of fermentation yields dough that bakes crisp on the outside, soft inside.

Colorado Crust Pizza Co.’s name draws our attention to something a lot of pizza places swing and miss on. Good pizza crust takes time to develop flavor and structure. Really good crust, the kind with a crisp exterior and soft, chewy interior that may sag but will never sog, gets days to ferment at low temperatures. That’s how they do it in New York. And that’s how they do it at Colorado Crust.

It’s co-owned by Andrew Oliver who, along with his wife Jen, runs the neighboring Bloom Bar & Co. florist, which supplies floral decor for each table. His roots in the neighborhood go deep; his parents opened adjacent Oliver’s Deli in 1983, and he’s co-operated that restaurant, too.

He says he gets the flour for his dough from a mill company in Texas that imports Italian wheat. It’s the foundation of a pizza dough that spends three days fermenting before it gets rolled out into the spot’s signature 13-inch pizzas (though gluten-free diners can get a 12-inch gluten-free cauliflower crust for $2 more).

Location Details Colorado Crust Pizza Co.
6660 Delmonico Drive
Northwest/Rockrimmon
Colorado Springs, Co
400-6404
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, to 8 p.m. Sunday

And that crust does exactly what it needs to. It’s crisp on the outside and pillowy-soft inside, with massive bubbles and plenty of air, substantial but light. The middle of the ’za isn’t a soggy mess by the time we’re halfway through; this crust holds up to whatever it’s topped with. And proper docking (poking little holes in the part of the crust you’re topping so it doesn’t rise) makes for an ultra-thin crust layer beneath said toppings.

The first pizza we try is called Notorious P.I.G., topped with olive oil, mozzarella, Parmesan, green chiles, bacon and “garlic fire” feta made with house garlic chile oil. Our pizza, in an error we confirmed by phone after the fact, comes with whipped ricotta with herbs instead of the feta. So we get a pizza that, while creamy and savory, isn’t what customers should expect. While the ricotta mutes those chiles we so love, Piggie Smalls’ smoky bacon and overall savoriness still bring us joy.

Our Double Diamond pizza, though, comes to-spec, a traditional red-sauce-and-mozz pie topped with goat cheese, thin-cut jalapeños, bacon and candied pecans. Soft, crunchy and crispy? Sweet, smoky, savory and spicy? It’s a menagerie of textures and flavors that compete and combine nicely, and we’re damn happy.

It’s not just the pizza that wins us over, though. Going simple, the pepperoni roll appetizer is mozzarella, pepperoni, olive oil and Parmesan rolled into a sheet of pizza dough and sliced into little spiral cylinders of fatty, crisp pizza parlor perfection, especially dipped in bright house red sauce. And while we miss the vegan pizza, the vegetarian gigante bean hummus plate makes a meal all its own, a huge platter of hummus with red peppers paired with warm flatbread triangles, roasted tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives and marinated tomato-cucumber-red onion salad, served with warm and savory garlic-chile oil for dipping or drizzling. Everything’s flavorful and delicious, and when we devour it, we barely have enough room for the pizza.

Even the salad impresses us, with a full-sized Eat Your Spinach filling in the corners for three diners. The spinach gets paired with marinated mushrooms, roasted red peppers, goat cheese and perhaps the first preparation of beets I adore with no asterisk. These crispy balsamic beets have the color and crunch of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and their flavor adds bite and brightness to the affair. Not even the salad gets phoned in by Oliver and his crew. This is a pizzeria that I could only have dreamed about as a kid, and I’m going back as soon as I can.

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