Walter’s 303 has the brews but uneven eats 

click to enlarge Our pizzas ranged from undercooked to overcooked. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Our pizzas ranged from undercooked to overcooked.
The craft beer dynasty presents a double-edged sword: On the one, it’s fabulous to have access to fine beers pretty much everywhere; on the other, a lot of the same beers are, yeah, pretty much everywhere. We got quantity but along came redundancy, especially with big-brewery buyouts of mid-sized craft outfits, essentially the equivalent of greenwashing in the beer world.

Fine taphouses try to set themselves apart with exclusive, hard-to-get kegs, handles from smaller and newer local outfits, and smart curation of what’s available from distributors — all good things. And thankfully the Springs hosts many of these spots. Take as an illustrative example Walter’s 303 Pizzeria & Publik House, the third of a series with two Denver-area locations. We can’t even get the first two beers we order as our server, also the bartender, says they “just blew, we’re constantly changing them out.”

They obviously make the most of 20 taps at this Flying Horse location, where there’s quality from Colorado breweries like Bonfire, Eddyline, and Elevation, and a number of labels from out of state that are new to me. A fine Diablo Rojo amber from Bend, Oregon’s Boneyard Beer stands as one example; another, an imperial IPA from Lincoln, Nebraska’s Empyrean Brewing Co. that’s so stunning and full of creamy vanilla notes and barrel-aged character we all pass it around for sips, in awe — our only gripe here being non-optimal glassware (i.e., no snifter).
Location Details Walter’s 303 Pizzeria & Publik House
2690 North Gate Blvd.
Colorado Springs, CO
11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday; until 10 Friday and Saturday; 4-9 p.m. Monday

We unfortunately have to file some other grievances, like lengthy gaps between check-ins for refills (appearing to stem from the overlapping bar duties), such that we have to flag employees down a couple times. The remaining blips relate to the food. The menu is half pizzas, yet our two aren’t executed on a level that speaks to the restaurant’s time-tested tradition. See “Walter’s 303 Pizzeria marks a Springs pizza reunion,” for more on the dough and  history behind it.
One pie’s undercooked and the other overcooked — not full mush or char, but slices of our Panama Not-So Red droop to point earthward somberly, requiring an overhead bite technique, and the crust on our Moses pie is browned toward a tough chewiness. The former’s a white pizza with herb-garlic olive oil for sauce, which in quantity can easily sog bread during a bake, but to its credit flavor-wise, the briny artichokes, earthy portobellos, sweet caramelized onions and salty feta do merge for a nice Mediterranean effect. Fresh basil strands almost dominate the flavor on the Moses, oily from pepperoni, spiked by jalapeños and sauced with a decent pesto-marinara under bubbled mozzarella.

We also can’t muster much love for the vegetarian lasagna, sporting nothing exemplary, light on veg, feeling kinda home-cooked and all mild marinara for flavor. By contrast, we’d happily return for the house meatball sub, the protein bursting with spice under a melted mozzarella cap and just the right amount of red sauce, all on a soft, airy, garlic-buttered bun. It’s killer with the beers.

Come dessert, we ask what’s made on-site: The server replies, “everything but the cheesecake.” Why it’s named Walter’s New York Style Cheesecake, then, is beyond us, so we order a baked chocolate chip cookie instead. Two gooey goodies arrive under basic vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, tasting still like cookie dough — who doesn’t like that? — so we depart on a sweet note, at least.


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