One step into chef Jim Cohen’s new Pizzeria Da Lupo and you know this is no ordinary pizza joint. Cohen, together with business partner Ken Wolf, has turned a tiny location in Boulder’s Village shopping center into a cozy hangout with an unpretentious, Italian-style dining room with warm woods, colorful tiles, and a crackling fire that radiates from the massive hand-built, wood-fire oven.

The pizzeria is a dream for the highly acclaimed Cohen, who returned to Colorado after successful runs at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona and Terrazza in Las Vegas. Many will remember the James Beard Foundation nominee as executive chef of Denver’s Tante Louise and the Plum Tree Café (he also spent time cooking in Vail at The Wildflower and Cucina Rustica).

Now in Boulder, Cohen—who also chefs at The Empire Lounge and Restaurant in Louisville—hopes to bring more flavor to the humble pizza by using top-notch ingredients, such as prosciutto di Parma, house-made cheeses, and his own “secret slow-rising dough.” For the most part, he succeeds. The slightly smoky crusts have yeasty overtones and a chewy bite, and come topped with goods like caramelized onions, bacon, and Scamorza cheese.

Cohen’s crew is still getting a handle on the 1,000-degree oven, however, and occasionally the pies are served with too much char and burnt toppings. But overall, there is a ton of potential in Cohen’s six signature pizzas, grilled panini, salads, and antipasti. Still, if he wants to compete with the nearby Pizzeria Basta—not to mention the soon-to-open Pizzeria Locale—he’ll have to find consistency.

2525 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 303-396-6366