Being Jersey born and raised, I’m somewhat of a pizza expert (self-proclaimed, of course). After all, I come from the place where they make the GOAT pizza: Jersey Shore. Those ridiculously large slices of heaven – thin crusted, cheesy, and perfectly sauced – are what keeps me homesick, even after two years of living in Durango.
So, when this restaurant review assignment hit my desk, I knew I had to pick a pizza place, even though I tend to shy away from pizza here out of fear that my hopes will be crushed when it’s nothing like you find back home. Side note: Don’t even get me started on the bagels.
Walking down Main Ave in Durango, my friend and I decided to pop into Fired Up Pizzeria. It was lunchtime so there was a bit of a buzz, but my friend and I were greeted with a friendly, “Hello, I’ll be right there,” even before I could cynically think, “Uh does anyone work here?” That quick welcome garnered at least two stars in my book.
As we stood waiting to be seated, I took notice of the surroundings. It was pretty chill place with an industrial yet warm vibe. The bar had a sophisticated look to it, with a metal base, glass shelves, and dark trim. The exposed brick, wood, and metal tables, combined with a mix of metal chairs and booths, gave it a bit of a Brooklyn loft feel. I dug it.
I was starving by the time we sat down. I usually skip breakfast and by lunchtime, I’m ready to eat a 10-course meal, but I held my composure and just went for one appetizer: spinach and artichoke dip. If you ever go here, GET THIS. The creamy blend of mozzarella, goat cheese, and Parmesan cheese, which is mixed with organic spinach and artichoke and served with lightly grilled crostini, which is brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with Italian seasoning, was delicious. We devoured it. Really, I could have just added a side salad and that would have been plenty.
Their lunch special, available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., is an 8” pick your base (tomato sauce, olive oil with seasonings, or pesto), with your choice of one topping and soda or salad, and it seemed like a solid choice. I placed my order for one 8” tomato base, which they call Margherita, with red bell pepper for my topping. My friend ordered a large chicken Caesar salad. Clearly she had enough carbs with our appetizer, whereas I had not.
Prices are comparable to other restaurants on Main Avenue in Durango. They aren’t cheap, but they’re not shocking. The selection is vast and you have a build-your-own option with a gluten-free or cauliflower crust for the no-carb fans. They do have artisan sandwiches, so if you are not a pizza person (we can’t be friends), you have options.
Before I go on to tell you how my pizza experience was, I must tell you that my server was on point. And I say this not just because he was a fellow East Coaster, but also because he was truly a perfectly balanced server, the kind who gives you enough time alone without being neglectful, and just enough attention without being overbearing. It’s a tricky task to conquer, but he did it.
When my pizza arrived, it was clear the fire grill had burnt it a tad around the edges, but it was crispy, and those giant round, fresh, melted mozzarella slices looked glorious topped with red bell peppers. Bearing no high hopes, I took my first bite. Hmm, not bad. I took another and realized the mozzarella and red bell pepper with spices was the perfect combination for my taste buds. The Margherita sauce that layered my crust tasted a bit like sweet roasted tomatoes. The pizza was light, not bogged down with grease, and it was fresh. I was surprised. This pizza was good.
I ate about half of it and totally could have finished it, but I didn’t want to have that bloated, now-I’m-just-going-to-nap-at-my-desk feeling. So, I boxed it up and took it with. I actually reheated it at home and made a salad, poured a glass of wine, and enjoyed it again for dinner. Dual purpose eating.
Overall, I’d say Fired Up Pizzeria could help to curb my homesickness, and that’s better than me giving it any amount of stars. Go, eat, enjoy.