Accidental dinner at Pizzeria Da Lupo

Let’s begin with an admission: the line at Larkburger was too long.

Right next door, Boulder’s Pizzeria Da Lupo had three open seats at the counter, and frankly, much better lighting. The smell of fresh baking bread beckoned too. Forsaking burger nirvana, we settled in.

Pizzeria Da Lupo stands out among a teeming field of Boulder specialty pizza joints. Like others, it has an impressive wood fire oven, super thin sliced prosciutto, secret recipe dough (it’s fab), and melt your socks off cheeses.

Individual white and red pizzas are served whole and just-right thick. Each bite contains an airy but chewy crust with a nicely charred bottom. Light tomato sauce, rich olive oil and restrained but delectable toppings let everything shine rightly. Shirred eggs (oven cooked) are an inventive option on any pie.

So yes, the pizza is very good. But what really distinguishes Pizzeria Da Lupo is its superbly creative menu. It’s simultaneously wide-ranging, yet compact; adventurous yet approachable.

Start with salads. Mine mingled endive and arugula with Maytag blue cheese and pistachios. Minutely chopped, tossed in lemon and olive oil and nicely salted, it was divine. Brussel sprouts aren’t generally a menu best seller, but they headline this restaurant’s most popular salad. We watched no less than 10 Shaved Brussel Sprout with Pecorino Romano and Toasted Walnut salads leave the kitchen.

Another cool menu option: Build a Board. Create your own appetizer by assembling an array of Mediterranean meats, cheeses, nuts and dips. Combinations are endless. Select sopresseta with parmesan reggiano, castelvetrano olives, house made tapenade and roast peppers. Or simply pair Humbolt Fog goat cheese with pistachios. The choice is yours. (And the wood fire toast is included.)

Small plates deliver big flavor:  a simple bowl of oven clams, with lemon, white wine and garlic;  meaty and tangy buffalo wings likewise done in the oven;  burrata cheese with pistachio, lemon confit and caper agrodolce (sweet and sour).

The menu plays out in a compact open kitchen. Throughout our meal, Chef Wes Gay tossed dough and baked pizzas. Austin Rowen made salads and sliced prosciutto while describing  menu options.

Some general tidying up would make the atmosphere a much better match to Pizzeria Da Luco’s sleek menu, but we enjoyed the overall experience. And we’ll certainly be back.  Next time, more intentionally.

Wes Gay tossing pizza

Chef Wes Gay tosses delectable dough at Pizzeria Da Lupo

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