If you were one of the lucky 120 people or so who were able to score a Redeemer Pizza pop-up order when the Dio Mio team held their forthcoming pizza restaurant’s pre-order-only events back in January and February, then you know how very exciting it is that Redeemer is going to have its own restaurant space on Larimer Street before long. Today’s news: That space will be the former home of Meadlowlark Kitchen, on Larimer at 27th Street, across from Denver Central Market.
“We were so close to a lease elsewhere on Larimer Street in March 2020, but then everything exploded and, in the end, it turned out to be a blessing,” says LuLu Clair, co-owner and communication director for Dio Mio and Redeemer. “Meadowlark Kitchen closed a few weeks later and we thought it would be so great to put a locally owned restaurant into that space.” Chef Spencer White, Clair’s fiancé, chimes in: “It all worked out for a reason.”
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Under renovation right now, the Meadowlark Kitchen space is getting a facelift as it transforms into the home of Redeemer Pizza, which is Clair, White, and partner chef Alex Figura’s restaurant ode to sourdough pies and East Coast-style hoagies. The layout of the restaurant will remain similar, but there will be new tiles, paint, decor, and, of course, White and Figura’s latest obsession: their Pizza Master oven, which will be installed later this week.
There will also be a new walk-up pizza window off the back patio and an entrance to the restaurant through the alley between it and the Meadowlark Bar next door. “There will be an easy flow from the bar, and a chill slice window in the back, as well as full service in the front of the restaurant and the same cool drinks program as Dio Mio—but bigger,” White says. “We’re so excited about this location.”
It will still be a few more months before Redeemer will begin slinging pies, hoagies, veggie small plates, and spritzes in its new home, but there’s much to look forward to. Figura and White, who met at the acclaimed and now-shuttered Lower 48, are known for their fine dining chops and, more recently, their way with doughs, from the hand-crafted pastas they’ve been plating at fine-casual Dio Mio over the past five years to their near-perfect sourdough and focaccia. The duo has been tinkering with their naturally-leavened pizza dough recipe for two years now, meticulously experimenting with different hard wheats and hydration levels, in search of the holy grail of modern New York-style slices: sturdy enough not to droop when you pick it up, with great char and flavor, an open crumb, and tender chew. The pizza community calls the style New York 2.0—but you’ll just call it delicious.
Redeemer’s pies will come in two sizes: 16 inches for whole pizzas and 20 inches for pizzas that will be sold as individual slices. Toppings will enhance the crust, not overwhelm it. While the combos may sound simple—the Redeemer pop-ups featured pepperoni, mushroom, and cheese options, and specialty pies like all’Amatriciana with fresh mozzarella, Calabrian tomato sauce, pancetta from Il Porcellino Salumi, and red onion—the ingredients will be top-notch, seasonal, and executed with White and Figura’s customary care.
Dough is the real star of the Redeemer show though, based on freshly-milled flours and a 72-hour-long fermentation process that results in pizza that’s dangerously easy to consume and digest. “I ate a whole pizza by myself one time!” admits Clair. “I thought I’d pay for it for a week, but I woke up the next morning and felt fine.” (I can attest that it’s incredibly easy to eat more Redeemer pizza in one sitting than you think you should, and that I felt great afterwards as well.)
“We’ve been milling flour for pasta at Dio Mio for almost two years, including using Redeemer wheat, and we’re going to play around with all different kinds of grains for the pizza dough,” White says. He and Figura use only four other ingredients for their flavorful recipe: water, salt, extra-virgin olive oil, and a sourdough starter. But it’s the 72-hour fermentation process that creates such a light, springy crust. “It makes a more digestible product,” Figura says. The flavor is deep and, well, wheaty, with a crispy-chewy texture that will haunt you, thanks to the Pizza Master. White staged (which, in restaurant speak, means working in exchange for experience) for several days back in 2019 at the acclaimed Pizzeria Beddia in Philadelphia to get to know the steam-injection electric deck oven better, and he and Figura waited for six months for their Pizza Master to arrive.
Redeemer’s hoagies will come on house-made sesame rolls and be tightly wrapped in paper, a trick to help the crusty rolls soften a bit and the sandwich fillings to marry together. Expect classics including a chicken cutlet, an Italian-style layered meat version, and a hoagie homage to Dio Mio’s beloved broccoli rabe salad.
There’s going to be a “real bar” at Redeemer, too, says White, with a more expansive cocktail menu and natural wines on tap. And the house dilly ranch, which is a must for dipping, is based on a recipe six years in the making, which the chefs began working on while cooking at Lower 48.
In other words, Redeemer is going to be a carby culmination from a talented local team poised for ever greater success. Lucky, lucky Denver.
Redeemer Pizza is scheduled to open in early summer 2021, and there are more pizza and hoagie pop ups coming, too. 2705 Larimer St.