ADDRESS: 2550 Harmony Road, No. 101, Fort Collins
TELEPHONE: (970) 377-8282
HOURS: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday; noon-10 p.m. Sunday
RATING (Out of 4 stars): Three and a half stars
There is a scene in the book, “Eat, Pray, Love” where the author, Elizabeth Gilbert (played by Julia Roberts in the movie), visits a famous pizzeria in Naples, Italy. She describes this pizza with such superlatives and affection that, as a reader, you want to fly to Naples at that very moment for just one bite of this incredible-sounding pizza.
Fortunately for us, we have our very own Naples-originated pizza right here in northern Colorado. I haven’t heard quite the superlative language used in “Eat, Pray, Love” for Pulcinella Pizzeria, but I’ve heard some pretty high praise for it over the years.
Chef and owner Antonio Race is a native of Naples, so pizza is in his blood. He came to Fort Collins in 1991 and opened Pulcinella on Drake Road to immediate rave reviews.
More than 20 years in business now, Pulcinella is still one of the most popular Italian restaurants in Fort Collins and has even expanded to Denver. In 2010, its Cherry Creek location was recognized by the editors of 5280 magazine as the “best pizza” in Denver.
Because it’s closer to Windsor, I find myself visiting the smaller pizzeria on Harmony Road in the Villagio shopping center, which caters especially to the take-out crowd. I’ve yet to find an item I don’t like there.
I’ve been to Italy and, like any good, budget-minded traveler, I definitely ate my share of pizza there. I can honestly say that Pulcinella is the real deal when it comes to authentic Italian Neapolitan pizza.
It starts with a perfect crust and ends with some fabulous toppings. Two of my favorite choices are the Pesto ($13-$18.50) and the King ($15-$21). Note that Pulcinella is not about crazy pizza concoctions. The toppings here are your standard cheeses, meats and veggies. The formula is easy and it works — simplicity = deliciousness.
Take the King Pizza. This typical meat version with pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, onions, mushrooms, olives and green peppers is simple, traditional and outstanding. The addition of banana peppers and marinated tomatoes adds a sweetness and depth of flavor not found in most meat pizzas.
The Pesto is excellent because of a superb basil pesto sauce used for its base along with soft chicken chunks, marinated tomatoes, artichoke hearts and fresh mozzarella cheese.
I also adore the Gourmet Spinach ($17.50-$25) which is one of Pulcinella’s few double-crusted pizzas. The filling of sautéed garlic, spinach, black olives, romano and mozzarella cheese is truly a winning combination of flavors.
A few baked pastas and salads can be found at Pulcinella, too. The Lasagna Napoletana ($9) is very tasty. The soft, layered noodles are surrounded by ground beef, mozzarella, ricotta, parmigiano cheese and homemade tomato sauce.
Similar in flavor is the baked Pasta al Forno ($8-$9) which uses penne pasta instead of lasagna, but has the same cheese and sauce amalgamation involved. Adding meatballs adds much flavor to the dish.
The Pulcinella salad ($4-8) is full of your basic Mediterranean ingredients. This includes romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, red bell peppers, artichoke hearts, green and black olives and a balsamic vinaigrette. It’s fresh, simple and yummy.
In fact, “yummy” pretty much sums up every visit I’ve had at Pulcinella Pizzeria. For real Italian pizza, you can’t beat the commute either.
Shannon Teslow is a standout long-distance runner who competed at UCLA during her collegiate years. She’s lived in Windsor with her family since 1995.