Strolling up to Benzina, you most likely wouldn’t think that it employed to be a fuel station — other than the reality that “benzina” usually means gasoline in Italian. The modern day-nonetheless-funky restaurant brings a new vibe to the South Park Hill community with mid-century decor, funky music, ‘60s art, bocce ball courts and Neapolitan-type pizza.
Brad Anderson — Benzina’s proprietor — has been a companion in quite a few Denver restaurants such as the Rocky Mountain Diner, Rick’s Cafe, Castle Cafe, Chopper’s Sports Grill and The Subsequent Doorway Bar. Benzina, nevertheless, is his very first solo endeavor and his desire strategy. “I’m an older father, I want this to be a residing desire for the reason that I will not be about forever,” mentioned Anderson, “My children will only have me in their life for 30 many years or so. I want to display them what you can do if you have a aspiration, work really hard and set your thoughts to it.”
The concept for Benzina had been forming in Anderson’s intellect for decades prior to its execution. In 2004, his wife’s position transferred her to New York Metropolis so Anderson used a ton of time there. “We would go to all the famous New York Town pizza sites like Joe’s, Grimaldi’s and Patsy’s,” Anderson claimed, “We believed that the pizza was 10 occasions improved than nearly anything we could get in Denver.” And then they have been launched to Neapolitan-type pizza. The introduction of this pizza style intrigued Anderson even more, “We considered that these Neapolitan-model pizza areas had been even greater than the New York-model pizza sites.”
Anderson ate at dozens of pizza dining places across New York and even frequented various in Italy, but his primary inspiration will come from Brooklyn’s Roberta’s. Anthony Falco — previous chef at Roberta’s — launched Anderson to the pizza he has developed to enjoy. “He’s the one particular who mentioned that it’s additional exciting to eat meals with your palms than a fork and knife, and I agree,” said Anderson. So, not like classic Neapolitan pizza, Benzina’s pizza will come sliced — which suggests the dough has to be a little bit sturdier far too. The dough is built from a four grain mix that has the excellent texture of crispy yet doughy and is just skinny enough to make it possible for you to hold it devoid of slipping apart.
Benzina’s kitchen area is helmed by government chef Daniele Bolognini with assist from consulting chef Brian Lockwood. Chef Bolognini was born and lifted in Italy and beforehand cooked in Aspen before operating as govt chef at Acorn right up until it closed previous yr. Lockwood is a Boulder native and has working experience performing at Michelin starred dining establishments which includes Gary Danko and The French Laundry in California and The NoMad and Eleven Madison Park in New York. Through the pandemic he moved back to Boulder with his family members and began consulting with Anderson final fall — when Benzina was initially slated to open up. “We’ve created about three menus because I very first started out,” joked Lockwood, “It’s seasonal, so now we’re on our spring variation.”
The menu is easy and highlights the smoky flavors that occur from the wood-fired Acunto pizza oven and coal-fired oven. It consists of a few salads, five appetizers, 3 housemade pasta dishes, 7 pizzas, 4 entrees and two desserts. The tortelli ($21) — a stuffed pasta — is the excellent springtime appetizer or light-weight entree and consists of English pea, smoked trout and horseradish. Any pizza on the menu is confident to please, from the clam ($19), mushroom ($17), spicy sopressata ($18) and additional. The entrees are all cooked in the coal-fired oven and are great to share or to get pleasure from on your personal. The spatchcock hen ($28 for a half or $49 for a whole) is a dish Anderson and Lockwood have been perfecting for months and are definitely psyched to eventually provide. “When I 1st spoke with Brian I instructed him I required to do a spatchcock chicken like he did at The NoMad and he reported we’d get rid of it. I feel we did,” explained Anderson.
Now that heat days are getting to be the norm in Denver, Benzina will have outdoor patio seating, bocce ball and a back garden with herbs and veggies. If you do sit inside nevertheless, you are going to get to look at the cooks in the open kitchen, love the retro artwork from Slim Aarons and hear to the ‘70s funk songs coming from the speakers. “We want to encompass that funky vibe, we hope it’s’ one thing that Denver has not observed however,” reported Anderson.
Following time you are looking for a excellent patio, mouth watering food and a interesting vibe, head more than to Benzina. You will detect very speedily that it’s anything special.
Benzina is positioned at 4839 E Colfax Ave, Denver. Open Wednesday – Thursday and Sunday 5 – 10 p.m. and Friday – Saturday 5 – 11 p.m.
All images by Marla Keown.