Pizzeria Locale brings Chipotle speed and organization to Neapolitan pizza in Waldo

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Is pizza better when it comes out of the oven faster? A lot faster?

Waldo is about to find out. Pizzeria Locale, which opens today at 11 a.m., at 505 West 75th Street, is the first outpost of the fast-casual pizzeria created by Denver restaurateurs Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson in 2011. The new restaurant can serve either a 10-inch signature pizza or a custom-designed creation in just about two minutes.

That first Pizzeria Locale was a full-service restaurant (and still is), but when Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson went into partnership with fast-casual giant Chipotle — that company’s CEO, Steve Ells, is a big fan of the fine-dining restaurant Frasca, the first Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson collaboration — the two men wanted to benefit from Chipotle’s expertise in the fast-casual market.

“We’re the ones who wanted to test a restaurant concept that could offer a great, high-quality pizza quickly and at a competitive price point,” says Stuckey, who flew into Kansas City yesterday for the restaurant’s media preview.

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Stuckey says Kansas City — historically a test market for national restaurant concepts — was chosen as the first city outside Denver “because of the size, the demographics, and the need.”

Pizza prices range from $5.75 to $8.25, and the restaurant, which has limited indoor seating (and three umbrella-shaded picnic tables on a patio in the rear), offers two wines on tap and seven locally brewed beers (including Boulevard and Free State). The venue is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Pizzeria Locale, which has ambitious expansion plans, has already inked one deal to open next year in southern Johnson County and is looking for another Johnson County location. A Cincinnati location is scheduled to open in October (and, yes, Queen City residents are already agitating for a chili-topped pizza; culinary director Jordan Wallace says he doesn’t really care for that idea).

Stuckey and MacKinnon-Patterson aren’t doing a barbecue pizza for the Kansas City market. The 10 standard offerings are billed as “classic” pizza choices, ranging from a simple Margherita pizza to the most expensive: a Supreme pizza topped with mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, red onion, grape tomatoes, green peppers and green olives (for $8.25).

Pizzeria Locale also offers four salads, a trio of side dishes (including pork meatballs) and one dessert: butterscotch pudding. “Even people who hate butterscotch pudding love ours,” Wallace says.

I’m one of those people, but the little plastic box of mahogany-colored pudding really is good, made with a touch of sea salt and topped with a layer of milk-chocolate ganache and real whipped cream. (It’s only $1.75.)

Stuckey and MacKinnon-Patterson had to gut the space — the former Pizza Manifesto — and found plenty of problems in the process. “We had to put up new walls, put in a new roof,” says Stuckey, who notes that it was a fluke that Pizzeria Locale is opening next to one of the busiest Chipotle restaurants in the country.

“We looked at quite a few possible locations,” Stuckey says. “But we really liked having a Pizzeria Locale in the center of the city.”

Categories: Dining, Food & Drink