Beau Jo’s, Boulder, Colo./Rapid City, S.D.
All right, I’m just going to go ahead and say it: Exactly why is a restaurant mainly located in the town of Boulder operating a location in western South Dakota? It’s not like Rapid City is anywhere near Boulder, it’s roughly 550 miles or so away. Oh well, that geographical oddity is what allowed me to hit up a Beau Jo’s, so I really should not complain. Without it, I’d have never gotten to taste the mountain pie.
What is a mountain pie? Basically, it’s Colorado’s version of pizza. Yes, Colorado does offer its own style of pizza, joining about 10 other regional spins on the classic neapolitan pie (might be an exaggeration). Colorado-style pizza is a lot like Pizza Hut’s ill-fated Twisted Crust pizza, except it doesn’t suck. There’s a lot of extra dough, which gives it the mountain that is so similar to a breadstick.
These pies are deeper, but they’re also made the same way non-deep dish pizza is made, with the cheese on the top, not the bottom. Really, I think this is the best way to do it, although Chicago residents disagree. While I like the taste of deep-dish just fine, the pizza holds together better when the cheese is first, not last. That’s a big way to score points with me.
Another big way to score points is to offer a lot of variety. Beau Jo’s does exactly that, offering several different kinds of both mountain and prairie pies (that’s the more traditional style of pizza). If you don’t like any of the pies they have, that’s not a problem. Beau Jo’s allows you to create your own masterpiece, a very good thing because some of their pies are only serves in one of the two crusts. For instance, my pie of choice would have been the Silverton, a chicken, artichoke and mushroom pizza with two kinds of cheeses and basil-pesto sauce.
The problem was, I came for a mountain pie and all the Silverton is served as is a prairie pie. What happened? You probably guessed already. Of course, I simply recreated the Silverton as a mountain pie and paid the cost of each topping. It still worked out to be a good deal and a heck of a pizza.
One different thing about Beau Jo’s is that all of its pizzas that contain gluten are made with a honey dough, of either white or wheat bread before becoming pizza dough. What that does is add a little sweetness to the crust, which makes for a good pairing with honey itself when you leave the restaurant. Beau Jo’s does offer honey with its pies, which is a little weird but works well. However, being me, I still prefer ranch. Even though it’s sweeter, it’s still part of a pizza.
On top of its crust, Beau Jo’s offers several types of sauces, allowing the traditional marinara to be replaced by basil-pesto, ranch, garlic and oil or even barbecue sauce. Non-traditional things can work great on pizza, and this place proves it.
I still have no idea why it ended up 60 miles into the Mount Rushmore State, but I’m quite glad it’s there. It’s a nice place to experiment with toppings, crust and sauces.
Time to go: Lunch or dinner. It’s pizza, that’s when you’re going to be having it.
Wait during my visit: None, besides the normal time one would wait to have a pizza cook.
Location: Can be found throughout the Denver/Boulder area, with one location in South Dakota.
Cost: It’ll likely run about $15 for your preferred pizza.
Website: Beau Jo’s
Signature items: Mountain pies