Here's the 411 on the 303. Once upon a time, this was the area code for all of Colorado, not just the Mile High City and its environs. This is the intended reference at Walter's 303 Pizzeria and Publik House - even the one in Colorado Springs.
According to its website, there is no Walter, but the "k" in publik remains baffling.
Nonetheless, Walter's 303 is a family-friendly pizza and beer venue near Flying Horse in the northern part of the city.
Although we had to wait for a table, our server, Trent, did his best to put things right. His fun, outgoing demeanor meshed well with his enthusiasm for the pizza and place of employment. He described the crust as rich and buttery, saying it was unlike that found in other pizzerias.
The menu features more than pizza, including oven-baked wings and a few baked sub selections. We started with a large house salad ($5.99), which was easy to share among four. This was more than a bowl filled with chopped iceberg lettuce and bits of shredded carrot for color. Instead, it was a mix of greens with abundant tomatoes, sliced red onions and plenty of croutons. Carrots were part of the mix, but not as an afterthought. Other salad choices include Caesar, Italian and Greek.
Our order of garlic bread ($2.95) with the salad was less impressive. The usually potent flavor of garlic was indiscernible. Thankfully, the bread was accompanied by a hearty marinara sauce for dipping.
That same thick, rich red sauce also appears on most of the pies. As with most pizza places, Walter's 303 offers numerous specialties and myriad create-your-own options. All are available in three sizes, and some as deep dishes, ranging in price from $13.99 to $23.99.
We especially enjoyed the caramelized onions and sliced meatballs on the B.O.M. This was topped with bits of fresh basil and mozzarella cheese. The crust was chewy and substantial enough not to cave or become soggy. Yet it didn't quite live up to Trent's description.
The Margherita had a layer of mozzarella that had already solidified by the time it reached the table. The result was a thin leathery buffer between the crust and other toppings. It lacked the gooey-ness associated with most melted cheeses. Sliced tomatoes and fresh basil should have been the star attractions, but their presence was scant.
On the plus side, the large, golden calzone ($9.99) was well made. It includes the marinara and up to five ingredients chosen from the pizza toppings list. We created a meaty mix with Italian sausage and pepperoni, along with spinach and mushrooms.
Walter's has a full bar and 20 craft beers on tap.
Those at the local pizzeria on a recent Saturday night likely live nearby. Walter's is evidently a popular place, albeit not a perfect one.
When we arrived, except for a table for two, every table was in use but not efficiently. That is, Walter's would benefit from a course in table management. A couple was seated at a six-top, and two couples were at four-tops. In both cases, the tables were actually two-tops that had been pushed together. It made no sense. So we waited. This gave us time to examine the faux industrial décor and to pick up on the vibe that, overall, people were enjoying themselves.
When finally seated, we were given a much larger space than needed, but we didn't complain. If you live in this 'hood, take-out might be the better option.