One day I was in the car driving through an area in Arvada which had an inordinate number of chain restaurants and big box stores when I saw a sign that made me gasp. I snapped a blurry cell phone shot and immediately put it up on Facebook frantically asking for the help of my friend, proprietor of Margot’s Pizza and anointed “King of Pizza Nerds”, Mr. Adam Kuban:
“Some people I know have said it’s a thing,” he carefully replied. I demanded to know what was distinctive about Colorado style pizza. “Doughy outer crust…and the fact that you’re supposed to dip the crust in honey,” he wrote back. I expressed my disbelief, “Honey? Oh dear lord,” and promised to seek it out one day for the sake of investigative journalism.
When I got home I Googled for where I could get this CO-specific pie and it appeared that there was only one place – a local chain called Beau Jo’s who had cornered (created?) the market for this supposed “Colorado style pizza”. My friend who has lived here a number of years told me that I had to go to the one in Idaho Springs.
So when we were driving back from Mount Evans one weekend with a couple of our friends from New York who were visiting, I suggested we stop at Beau Jo’s. Two current New Yorkers and two former New Yorkers walk into a Colorado pizza joint — what could go wrong?
Idaho Springs is exactly what you’d imagine an old mining town to be — they’ve got a quaint little main street with old-timey looking buildings who’s slogans vaguely allude to the good ol’ days of the Gold Rush. Beau Jo’s follows suit with its decor of wood paneling, western movie posters, and assorted metal signs from long-gone food, beverage, and service companies. Loads of exasperated families lined the waiting area and spilled out onto the sidewalk, clutching their pizza-shaped buzzers, giving the whole affair the air of an old West version of the Cheesecake Factory.
As soon as we sat down, we got down to the important business of decoding Beau Jo’s massive menu. There are so many options and variations that it can be downright intimidating. Focusing on the vegetarian options, we went with a safe play of an order of the Margherita Pizza in the 3 pound serving of the Mountain Pie style ($29.99) — which is the classic Beau Jo’s pizza featuring a hand-rolled crust edge.
Oh did you catch that? Beau Jo’s distinguishes their pizzas by weight. The 3 pound pizza has 10 slices and is estimated to serve 3-4 people. We found the 3 pounder to be enough for the 4 of us since we were only moderately hungry, having just eaten lunch about 2 hours before.
The Margherita has a roasted garlic and olive oil sauce, roma tomatoes, whole milk mozzarella, smoked provolone, grated Parmesan, and fresh basil to top it off. I was actually pleasantly surprised that it was not just suped-up Domino’s pizza. The pie was pretty enjoyable for what it is – a family-filling, fun meal.
On to the construction of the pie: The pictures don’t really capture this, but the pizza is not deep-dish or Sicilian – the center is fairly flat and only the outer crust is doughy. We went with the honey wheat crust, which I liked a lot, since it gave the dough a nice weight and texture and paired really well with the honey.
So the honey on the crust thing — I didn’t think I would like it, but I did. Again, I think the honey wheat crust is key. Once you are done with all the savory parts of your slice, you can store up your crusts and drizzle them with the honey-filled squeeze bottle provided, which results in the meal being not only dinner, but dessert.
It’s actually a brilliant idea — just like when you go to a brunch place and they give you one pancake or waffle with your egg order — a perfect mix of sweet AND savory for the price of one meal.
So dear reader, I can say that Beau Jo’s does sell a distinctive type of pizza. However, I would agree with what has been argued before, that in order for “Colorado style pizza” to actually be a thing, this style needs to be adopted by many others, not just one successful restaurant chain.
So at least for the time being, I would have to say Beau Jo’s pizza is fun and notable and worth trying if you are in the area, but “Colorado style pizza” is NOT yet an actual “thing.”
Are you a pizza aficionado and/or long-time Coloradan and disagree? Make your case in the comments below – I’m all ears.
Beau Jo’s – 1517 Miner St, Idaho Springs, CO 80452
- Decor: Old timey western-style
- Crowd: Families with young children
- Recommended: Any pizza, Mountain Pie-style