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Every time my family exits I-70 at Glenwood Springs—often on a Friday night, en route to Aspen or Paonia—we make a stop at White House Pizza. It’s the Main Street Carbondale restaurant’s busiest time, with an ever-present line of pizza snobs and craft beer geeks. But the menu of Colorado-style pies, brews, shareables, and salads is worth waiting for.
If it’s warm enough, ask to sit on the patio or at one of three dog-friendly tables in the lush lawn flanking the two-story Colonial-style home that gives the eatery its name. Otherwise, join the masses inside, where everyone from sports fans to grandparents to book club members buzz about.
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It’s one of those if-you-know-you-know restaurants. And most nights, everyone seems to know. Fortunately, the swift, smiling staff and kitchen crew know how to churn out piping pies in the time it takes to crush a plate of their famous buffalo wings ($12) or creamy Parmesan spinach-artichoke dip ($10). (On the road Monday through Friday? Plan to arrive at 4 p.m. for a less crowded happy hour seating and score $4 glasses of wine, pints, and margs and $4.50 pizza rolls and garlic fries.)
Owners Kurt and Marla Korn opened White House Pizza in December 1997 after moving to Carbondale from Longmont, cultivating a locally loved Cheers-like atmosphere and earning best-of Carbondale restaurant awards year after year.
“We have a core group of employees who have been with us for 15 to 20 years,” Marla says. “They’re the rock of our business. They are a huge reason why we are what we are today.”
Kurt’s and Marla’s families both brought them to Colorado on ski trips as kids, and the two met at Oklahoma State University. After graduation, they headed west and landed on the Front Range, where Kurt worked in Domino’s and Pudge Bros. pizza shops and fell in love with the industry. “After a few years, I decided I wanted to try my own version of this,” Kurt says. ”So I started going to auctions and collecting restaurant equipment.”
In 1994, Kurt and Marla opened the Pepperoni Pizza Kitchen, a quaint 20-seat counter-service spot in Longmont that quickly drew throngs of loyal regulars. By the time the white Colonial became available in Carbondale, they’d fine-tuned their crust and sauce to perfection.
Today, White House Pizza is known for its Rocky Mountain crust: a thick, puffy-crispy-chewy foundation that’s folded over at the edges, capturing a bit of the toppings inside itself. Ordering a side of honey or marinara for dipping is the norm. The restaurant’s chefs use Wisconsin-made, whole milk Grandé Cheese Company mozzarella for extra stretch, and everything from the sauces to the popular chicken Provençal to veggie medley soups are crafted in-house daily.
Those looking to branch out from Hawaiian pies or sausage and peppers will appreciate the spicy Buffalo chicken with caramelized onion, blue cheese, and smoked provolone or the pad Thai pie, made with loads of fresh veggies and layered with a post-bake gift of shredded cabbage, grated carrot, peanut sauce, lime, and fresh cilantro. (Specialty pizzas run around $27 for a 15-inch.)
Marla says White House boasts a large menu to serve the whims of its small-town crowd, which appreciates the long list of salads, pastas, sandwiches, and a show-stopping gyro with fresh basil and tzatziki sauce ($16). A seasonal Reuben pizza shows up the week of St. Patty’s Day, and seasonal cocktail menus tempt regulars back with concoctions like this winter’s Campfire Old Fashioned made with smoky rye whiskey, marshmallow simple syrup, chocolate bitters, and a toasted marshmallow skewer in a smoked glass.
If all those options feel overwhelming, follow Marla’s advice and go the purist route. “There’s something delightful about a simple slice of cheese pizza,” she says. “You taste the crust, the sauce, and the cheese equally. The realness of it all. And that is just so wonderful.”
801 Main Court, Carbondale