Daily Slice: Pizzeria Basta, Boulder, Colorado
Good pizza turns up in surprising places. In the case of Pizzeria Basta, it's a condominium complex near downtown Boulder, Colorado. It's a little tricky to find if you don't know what to look for—though the listed address is on a main drag, you've got to turn off that road onto a side street, wind your way through the condo parking lot, and look for the outdoor patio of the ground-floor restaurant.
But it's not surprising that such incredible pizza emerges from the oven of Kelly Whitaker. The owner-operator knows his stuff, credentialed on the pizza end (having worked at a pizzeria near Naples), the chef end (with stints at Michelin-starred L.A. restaurants), and the local restaurant end (he's got a Restaurant Management degree from Colorado State University).
Whitaker fires pretty traditional Neapolitan pies in his wood-burning oven, which puts a serious underside char on each pizza. The dough, made with a decades-old starter Whitaker brought over from Italy, rises up into an impressively tall cornicione—easily two inches, in parts—with an incredibly light, airy interior and a good outside crisp. Toppings are smartly chosen, not strictly orthodox; some imported, some domestic, some local. I loved the "Arugula" ($14.50) pictured above, the housemade smoked mozzarella complimenting the smokiness of the charred crust, with La Quercia prosciutto and local greens; the "White" ($12), with housemade mozz and ricotta, was saved from mild milkiness with grana padano, garlic, and olive oil. Puffy edges, flavorful crust, great toppings—absolutely everything I look for in fine pizza. Lucky you are, Boulder.