Plenty of college students study business. They study business, though, they don't start one of their own. UW students Jason and Rob, however, didn't sit around waiting for graduation. In the middle of an early 1990s night, they surveyed the phone book and agreed that they were tired of the sub-par pizza available to them. Boldly, they started making pies of their own. No business plan. No product testing. Jason and Rob took their pizza to the people, and a business was born.
Today, they're out of college and their Falbo Bros Pizzeria serves its inventive twists on New York-style thin crust, Chicago-style deep dish, and stuffed pizzas in 13 locations across three states. Fresh batches of hand-rolled dough don gourmet toppings such as giardiniera, artichoke hearts, and meatballs. The Falbo kitchens toss specialty pizzas such as the Zeus, whose black olives, spinach, feta cheese, and pepperoncini are baked with the heat of a lightning bolt. Chefs also bake meatball subs and top salads of artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, and grilled chicken with piquant blue cheese dressing. At Falbo's Fort Collins outpost, taps pour local beers from New Belgium and Odell in a seasonal beer garden, and cans of soda offer an alternative fizzy refreshment.
From the break of dawn to the arrival of the witching hour, the hiss of the espresso machine and the aromas of fresh-brewed coffee and spicy chai tea permeate Alley Cat Coffee House’s expansive space. Manning the counter 24 hours a day, the shop’s friendly baristas never stop topping off cups with ginger tea—made from 5 pounds of fresh ginger—or melting rich Ghirardelli chocolate into mochas, lattes, or carefully positioned open mouths. Morning customers nibble on a healthful breakfast of oatmeal and fruit, and late-night visitors wash down turkey melts and hummus with a thick milkshake.
Alley Cat’s interior is almost as diverse as its menu. A ceiling collage draws eyes upward to the colorful paintings of fish placed mere inches away from a photo of Mel Gibson chit-chatting on the phone. Beneath, sleek leather couches and plush chairs face traditional café seating. A separate room decked in simple earth tones makes an ideal study spot, fortified with wireless Internet, printing stations, and test answers carved into the tables.
Desserts aren't eaten last at The Chocolate Caf?. Instead, they're given prime status on the menu, which boasts pages filled with chocolate-drizzled pastries, glasses of wine, and steaming cups of hot chocolate. The staff here are experts about all sorts of sweets, from tart apple creme brulee to key lime pie, but, as you might imagine, the kitchen specializes in all things chocolate. They make normal extra-indulgent cheesecake by sandwiching it between a chocolate crust and a layer of chocolate ganache, and take an already rich croissant bread pudding to new heights by adding white chocolate and creme angelase. They even craft their decadent chocolate desserts in gluten-free varieties, and for special occasions, they can make whole desserts that are ready to be served or pelted at birthday party clowns. For those who like a little savory with their sweet, chefs also cook up light cafe fare such brie and fruit plates and crispy grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup.
Since not all of us have the luxury of eating our way around the globe, places like International Appetite Bistro have made it their primary goal to bring all the most interesting cuisines of the world under one roof. In addition to their invisible catering services, Chef Paula prepares a daily menu of eclectic edibles, such as international tapas and warm, fudgy brownies drizzled with fresh whipped cream and chocolate sauce. And of course, what is great food without a good glass of wine to wash it all down? The bistro's extensive wine list offers a comprehensive selection of interesting vinos, served straight from the barrel by the glass or in a carafe, or drawn from the cellar in bottles.
According to lore that has been passed down through the Lucio clan, one of the family progenitors was kidnapped from her native Chihuahua after Pancho Villa tasted her food and decided he needed her as his chef. That distant matron’s culinary wizardry trickled down the family tree and currently informs the cooking of her great-great-grandchildren at Armadillo Restaurants. Chefs at the restaurants use those generations-old recipes while gently patting cornhusks into place around meal and shredded pork or simmering red-chili sauce for enchiladas. Since the Lucios converted the first Armadillo Restaurant from a tough-guy bar into a restaurant in 1972, they’ve opened six additional locations in the Front Range.