My friends were wary when I insisted we try Pizza Public, an eatery near the high-traffic intersection of Speer and Federal boulevards. The exterior, which is as pedestrian as the restaurant’s name, did little to sway their opinion. But a sign declaring two-for-one beers during happy hour (4 to 7 p.m.) and the downtown-chic interior—with gleaming dark wood tables and modern pendant lights—won them over.
Having previewed the menu, I was on a quest for the Tejon, a specialty pie with green chile standing in for marinara and aged white cheddar, chicken, avocado, cilantro, and crème fraîche. The pizza could be either a hit or a dud, I thought, and I was curious to see if the combo worked. (I was, however, distracted by the description—and, yes, the name—of the Hooker. Topped with tomato sauce, ciliegine mozzarella, basil pesto, garlic, and olive oil, the Hooker was intriguing, but I stuck to my original plan.) We placed our order and passed the time enjoying the meatball slider sampler ($9) and garlic mushroom bruschetta ($8) from the appetizer menu. My favorite slider had creamy Brie and caramelized onions to complement the giant house-made meatball; the bruschetta was savory and decadent.
And the Tejon? It was everything I had hoped it could be. The slight spice of the green chile was tempered by the avocado and crème fraîche, and the result was the equivalent of a gourmet street taco spread over a hand-tossed, Neapolitan-style crust. The pie is proof that a little faith (and only a little cash) goes a long way at Pizza Public, where your reward is a welcome and surprising change from the expected. 3109 Federal Blvd., 720-524-8885, thepizzapublic.com
Meatball Sliders $9
The Tejon $11/$14/$17
The Hooker $10/$12/$16
Italian Sandwich $8.50