Side Dish: Top That! Pizza and Dishcrawl enter the Springs 

Quick crust

"It's like Chipotle or Subway for pizzas. We've got three crusts, 41 ingredients, 10 cheeses, eight sauces, and pizzas cook in three minutes."

So says Top That! Pizza (3659 Austin Bluffs Pkwy., topthatpizza.com) co-owner Patti Tennant, who brings 30 years' restaurant experience into her newly opened franchise, the company's 11th in the United States. (Aurora has one, Texas and Oklahoma sport the others, and there's also an Abu Dhabi spot.)

The concept centers around personal pizzas (6-inch/$5.49, 10-inch/$7.49; kids and combo deals also available), offered either as build-your-own or preconceived. An example of the latter is the Thai Breaker, with peanut sauce, mozzarella, sharp cheddar, marinated chicken, garlic, caramelized onions, scallions, carrots and roasted peanuts.

Tennant says she's not currently sourcing ingredients locally, or offering a gluten-free bread option, but notes "high-quality, name-brand" ingredients like Siegi's sausages. As for the rapid bake time, she credits a 540-degree conveyor convection oven.

Grub crawl

Since launching in 2010 in San Jose, Calif., Dishcrawl (dishcrawl.com) already has grown into around 100 cities in the U.S. and Canada. Now, thanks to Colorado Springs ambassador Anthony Bujak, the company has reached our market.

Its tagline for a Tuesday, March 26 official launch: "taking food lovers on a gourmet Dishcrawl to four distinctive restaurants in the trendy downtown area."

Bujak, a culinarian of 22 years who's served as executive chef at both Sky Sox Stadium and Colorado Springs World Arena, explains the format as "like a pub crawl, but with food." (And if that sounds familiar, indeed it's not a far cry from what's offered by local leader Colorado Springs Food Tours.)

For $45, a maximum of 40 guests will get a trio of samplings at each destination, like a mini tapas plate of sorts that allows the restaurant to spotlight its prowess. They will linger at each stop for around a half-hour, typically meeting the chef or owner, with the option to purchase drinks (and drop gratuity) in addition to the fixed food cost. Playing off the pop-up dinner fad, the meet-up spot, usually the first destination, isn't announced until 48 hours prior to the crawl — so tickets are bought in good faith of a good time.

Aside from "helping local restaurants gain exposure," the mission of Dishcrawl is to build community and have fun, says Bujak, who, to be clear, is employed and supported by the larger Dishcrawl headquarters. He hopes by April to have at least two monthly crawls going, and up to five down the road, incorporating other townships such as Manitou Springs or east Colorado Springs, and perhaps adding features like a bike Dishcrawl as well.


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