Brown Dog Pizza is to Telluride what the Telluride Bluegrass Festival is to the town’s summer festival season. It’s an absolute staple. It’s “square one” in its respective field.
From second homeowners to the ski bums, virtually everyone in Telluride has been there on a number of occasions — and they rave about the restaurant’s pizza. And they’re not alone. The International Pizza Challenge, which brings the best of what pizza has to offer from around the world, agrees with them. Brown Dog chef and co-owner Jeff Smokevitch has brought Telluride the glorious gold from the Las Vegas challenge for two consecutive years for his Detroit-style deep crusts.
But Brown Dog’s pizza isn’t the only thing that keeps customers piling in at all times of the year.
I think the bolognese is the restaurant’s best entree if you’re not ordering pizza. The restaurant makes no small claim about its recipe: The 125-year-old recipe is registered with the Italian government.
The accompanying pasta, which is sent through the restaurant’s own Italian pasta extruder, is then cooked to perfection, giving you soft, buttery bites as you wrap the strands around your fork. And that bolognese gravy? To die for. Bold tomato tang and beautiful fresh chunks of mozzarella make every bite better than the last.
The buttered and grilled bread slices accompanying the bolognese hammer home the fact that dough is this restaurant’s …err… bread and butter. Soak up those last few morsels of the bolognese sauce and enter the degustación phase of your meal with grace.
But the vast majority of patrons at Brown Dog are there for the restaurant’s pie. And it’s clear why. I’ve been traveling to this pie Mecca for three years and my mouth still waters when I see the server emerge from the kitchen with my Detroit-style deep dish. Believe me, for a taste of this pie, you, too, will salivate like Pavlov’s dogs for that brief moment.
Prepared fresh daily, the Detroit-style dough is a must-order. It’s recommended you take a walk through the menu and split your pie between the two gold-winning toppings, the 313 and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Aside from its Michigan-inspired crust, the 2014 International Pizza Challenge gold-winning Brooklyn Bridge is about as New York as it gets. Mozzarella, New York ricotta, Italian sausage, top-notch pepperoni, Sicilian oregano, pecorino Romano cheese and a tangy pizza sauce that leaves a sweet tingle in your mouth: What’s not to like?
The 313 is an entirely different beast, but equally worth going back for more. The hearty topping of arugula is what first catches your eye. Fresh salad ingredients atop a pizza? Don’t shy away — dig in. Topped with New York ricotta, Genoa salami, Calabria red chilis, sweet piquante peppers, basil, Parmigiano Reggiano, the crisp and peppery arugula topping provides a brilliant balance to this menu staple.
No matter the topping, the soul of this pizza house resides in the Detroit-style crust. The crust gives a satisfying crunch on the exterior, but just beneath the surface is the buttery and flaky heart of the dough that leaves you scraping up the crumbs on your plate.
This restaurant has something for everyone: well-balanced draught beer and food menus, a Pacman arcade game, a healthy variety of sports on the TVs, and even a scoreboard looking like it’s straight from Fenway Park. It’s the perfect location for a first date or dinner and drinks with friends.