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The Front Range has its fair share of Neapolitan-style pizzerias, but Tributary Food Hall & Drinkery in Golden is home to one of the standouts. Fringe Pizza’s second outpost opened there in August, and there are already plans to open a third location in Boulder in early 2020.
Fringe’s chef-owner, Nate Rajotte, an alum of San Francisco’s Le Cordon Bleu, left the fine-dining scene in Atlanta to move to Boulder with his wife and Fringe co-owner, Whitney, about six years ago. The couple began developing the pizza concept with franchisee Buddy Brown (Rush Bowls) two years ago and debuted the first Fringe in Boulder’s Gunbarrel neighborhood last March. And now, a third location is set to open in early 2020 on 29th and Valmont streets in Boulder; it will be the first Fringe with an expanded menu and a liquor license.
Fringe’s dough is reminiscent of traditional Neapolitan versions, made with just water, flour, salt, yeast, and a sourdough starter. Rajotte cold-ferments the dough for 48 hours to produce a slightly chewy yet crispy crust. The pizzas are also served uncut, with a pair of scissors, which is a common practice at restaurants in Italy that guarantees the integrity of the crust isn’t compromised by moisture from the sauce and toppings. Bonus: Diners can cut any size slice they like.
But it is the pizzas’ out-of-the-ordinary components that make them shine. For example, Fringe’s two-year-old sourdough starters are lovingly named Dewey and Dart (the former after a close friend and the latter after Dustin’s Demodog from Stranger Things), and the menu sports a collection of topping combinations you’re unlikely to find at other pizzerias. The lamb pepperoni pie is studded with salami from Heywood Provisions in Marietta, Georgia, while the Canadian is topped with smoked pork, mango-jalapeño barbecue sauce, pickled onions, charred pineapple, fresh jalapeño, and goat cheese. Rajotte sources as many local ingredients as possible and every sauce and topping is prepared in-house. “All of the ingredients come in whole,” he says.
SurMesa Taqueria—Tributary’s newest food stall, which opened in September—was established by veterans of the Golden restaurant scene, also with growth in mind. Brandon Bortles, owner of Abejas, and Noah Heanley, co-founder of Miners Saloon, are testing the street taco concept at Tributary in the hopes of launching another Latin concept as a brick-and-mortar restaurant. (SurMesa filled the vacant space left by Biju’s Little Curry Shop, which didn’t end up joining the lineup.)
SurMesa’s concise menu includes five tacos, two ceviches, queso, and guacamole, all accompanied by a selection of house-made salsas. The white fish ceviche—fresh mahi mahi or wahoo tossed with lemon and lime juices, cilantro, Fresno chile, jicama, and onion—is tangy and delicious. SurMesa’s tacos are our true obsessions, though, from the veggie iteration filled with squash, zucchini, mushrooms, sweet corn, crispy fried Cotija cheese, and crunchy pepitas to the steak, with Hatch chile crema, Cotija cheese, onion, cilantro, and watermelon radish. “We’re keeping it really simple, starting small and seeing what we can add,” says Bortles, who also has a ramen restaurant in the works for downtown Golden that’s scheduled to open in December.
Tributary Food Hall & Drinkery is also home to Generous Coffee, Kona Bowls Superfoods Café, Woodgrain Bagels, Mr. Miner Meat & Cheese, Amore Gelato, Working Title Kitchen, and the Tributary Bar. But if you’re there and stuck between choosing Fringe’s pizza or SurMesa’s tacos, our advice is to order both.