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White Pie Brings East Coast-style Pizzas and More to Uptown

From the owners of Dos Santos comes this rustic-chic pizzeria that pays homage to New Haven

The community-focused dining room at White Pie. All photos by Lori Midson

When brothers Kris and Jason Wallenta opened Dos Santos in the summer of 2015, they graced Uptown with an upmarket taqueria that honored their Mexican heritage. Now, two years later, the duo has unleashed White Pie {1702 Humboldt Street, 303.862.5323}, a slice of Connecticut that pays homage to their East Coast roots and obsession with New Haven-style pizza. “We grew up eating pizzas in New Haven, and we wanted to recreate that tradition in Denver,” says Kris, noting that Ken, his father, is Italian and encouraged both kids to join his cooking sessions in the kitchen. “Cooking with our dad, whether it was making ravioli or tomato sauce, was part of our culture,” adds Kris, also White Pie’s executive chef.

Wine bottle chandelier.

And the 2,000-square-foot pizza emporium, which seats 50 inside and another 25-30 on the patio, is designed, says Jason, to create a culture of community. “Both Kris and I wanted to keep the space small; this is all about sharing awesome food and awesome wine in a community-and-family-focused environment.” To that end, the quarters—offset by exposed brick walls, pebbled concrete floors, sky-high ceilings, shelves of firewood, and a conversation piece chandelier sculptured with more than 1,000 wine bottles—is dominated by marble-surfaced, wood-crafted community tables, a huge circular booth and a cozy chef’s counter that overlooks an open kitchen showcasing a wood-fire oven.

Fuggetaboutit pizza topped with mozzarella, garlic, kalamata olives, oregano and Pecorino-Romano.

And speaking of ovens, the one at White Pie is an Acunto Neapolitan brick oven beauty—and it’s from that 880-degree dome that the misshapen, black-etched pies emerge with New Haven-style, slightly risen crusts scented with the smoke of oak. Many of the foodstuffs at White Pie are sourced from purveyors in Connecticut, including the burrata spheres, high-gluten flour for the dough and judiciously dispersed ribbons of mozzarella that top the pizzas, most of them smeared with tomato sauce—which may raise a few eyebrows considering the “White Pie” name. “We’re trying to stay as true as we can to Connecticut, and our favorite pizza as kids was a bianca, which is a white pie, plus everyone is Connecticut uses the word “pie” when they refer to pizza, so that’s why we called it White Pie,” explains Jason.

The terrific ten-layer lasagna.

Still, while pizza pies—red and white—monopolize the menu, there’s far more to the roster than yeasty crusts blanketed with primo ingredients. Take, for example, the lasagna, which is probably a top contender for any list that might cover the city’s lasagna landscape. It resembles a brick, but the 10 (yes, 10) layers of handcrafted pasta sheets are al dente and supple, the mix of Bolognese and béchamel massaged with fennel, the surface blotted with sooty patches of black. It’s a lasagna that might make you wonder why any other chef in Denver even bothers, especially since the pasta maker (and sous-chef) is Jason Linam, formerly of Frasca Food and Wine. The pastas, all of which are housemade (and, at the moment, meatless) are prefaced by starters of burrata with pear tomatoes, hot honey and basil, hamachi (of beef) carpaccio, a charcuterie board, meatballs, and a pear salad with mixed greens and candied walnuts. The only thing missing from the syllabus? A New Haven white clam pizza, although the brothers promise to feature it as a forthcoming special.

Burrata by way of Connecticut.

The bar program, like the food, is rooted in streamlined simplicity. There are a handful of craft beers and ciders, 15 wines, including bubbles, and a half-dozen cocktails, which zigzag from an Aperol spritz to a frosé, a frozen slushy with rosé, vermouth and strawberry purée.

White Pie is open from 5-10 pm Tuesday through Saturday and from 4-9 pm on Sunday.

By Lori Midson