In the corner of Belleview Square, just a stone’s throw from the DTC, sits an unassuming gem that’s fast becoming the talk of the town. Restaurateur and chef Sean Huggard, the man behind Blue Island Oyster Bar, brings a slice of Roman flair to Denver’s outskirts with his new Oliver’s Italian, soon to be your favorite spot.
As for why, let’s start with the pinsa. Yes, pinsa. No, that’s not a typo. The Roman export is the hip, trendsetting cousin in the pizza family— lighter, airier, and kind to those who often find themselves in a gluten grudge match. The secret is a yeast-free dough that’s easier on the belly than your standard pizza dough and even bigger on flavor.
Oliver’s Italian is the only place in Colorado you’ll find it.
Eight varieties grace the menu, from the classic margarita to a more audacious mortadella and pistachio ensemble. But there’s more to Oliver’s than the pinsa. The Negroni Bar inside is a shrine to the classic cocktail, with five variations on offer, as is a negroni sampler tower that houses three. Whichever you decide, make sure the Bianco white negroni is one of them. But don’t think the Negroni Bar isn’t typecast by its name—the spritzes are divine as well.
From the minds of FAM Design, Oliver’s aesthetic is intended to transport. The decor throughout the 3,000-square foot space, formerly home to a Tokyo Joes, is evocative of the Italian coast—pistachio green walls, a flirtation of string lights, striking chandeliers, and yes, an actual olive tree that adds more than a touch of Mediterranean charm. A glass-encased patio off of the main dining room is essentially a greenhouse, offering botanical garden-esque escapism that begs to be enjoyed during an aperitivo-hour spritz with friends.
Most dishes give you the feeling that you’re on a dreamy Roman hoilday, each one a testament to the power of high-quality ingredients, simply prepared. After a round from the raw bar with mollusk’s fresh from Huggard’s Long Island oyster farm, start with the whipped ricotta & truffle honey and the Tuscan kale caesar with white anchovy that adds depth to the greens. Move onto any of the fantastic pastas (the pasta limone with fresh lemon, butter, pecorino romano, and mint is simple perfection), and, if you’re feasting, end with the showstopping veal milanese chop. Or stop by for an extended happy hour, which runs 2–6 p.m. daily and order the meatball & polenta—it’s the antidote to those I-25 traffic nightmares you seek.