Tess on the Town, Nov. 4
Enzo’s Pizzeria and Italian Cafe looks pretty much like a regular Italian joint in a shopping center storefront. It sits under an awning displaying the red, white and green colors of the Italian flag. Neon beer signs and posters partially obscure the windows.
Looks pretty typical.
On entering, you’re met with a steady stream of customers coming and going and a well-oiled operation of servers and kitchen staff.
It’s a popular place.
My boss recommended Enzo’s a year ago, said it is he and his wife’s favorite restaurant in Grand Junction. Try anything, he said, it’s “damn good.” He’s especially smitten with the Italian curried shrimp pasta.
And when you get a look at the surprising depth of the menu and taste the from-scratch quality ingredients, you know why the place is bustling.
On both of our visits, one for takeout pizza and one for a sit-down dinner, we were greeted and seated right away by helpful wait staff, ready to answer any questions.
The outer room, with full view of pizza-tossing cooks in the kitchen, is more for lunch, with a soda-pop station, ordering window and cash register.
A more dinner-like room awaits in the interior. It’s not especially fancy, but the lights are lower and a long dark bar dominates one wall.
Patio dining has the expected parking-lot view, but is cheerful, with lanterns, potted flowers and direct access to the bartender.
Pizza is served choose-your-poison New York style, with, wow, a choice of 36 toppings.
Or, you may order one of owners Vicenzo and Kelly Favale’s 12 signature pizzas.
It was tough to choose, but we tried the balsamic pizza — roasted garlic, mozzarella and Fontina, grilled asparagus, balsamic reduction and Parma prosciutto — and the extreme veggie — sun-dried tomatoes, fresh spinach, caramelized onions, crushed plum tomato marinade, pine nuts, feta and mozzarella.
Although the pizzas could have used a more liberal sprinkling of toppings, both were excellent and miles from ordinary. Other house specialties include a clam-based pie and one with sweet Peppadew peppers.
For lunch, the Favales have a two-slice-and-drink deal for $6.99.
Enzo’s takes on a whole different mood in the evening. Pizzas, stromboli, grinders and calzones are still on the menu, but add to that dozens more offerings of fine Italian food. I should note that we ordered dinner items at lunchtime and vice versa, and the staff was happy to accommodate.
Among the appetizers: Angus beef or ahi tuna carpaccio, Caprese skewers, or a platter of sweet figs, cheeses and cured meat.
My dining companion, who has a Pavlovian response to the m-word, adored the meatball sliders topped with roasted garlic knot, onions and cheese.
Most of the Italian classics are represented on the dinner menu, and then some.
The little tubes of manicotti, for example, are stuffed with Swiss chard, sweet peas and herb ricotta and topped with a béchamel sauce. Ravioli is glammed up with red pepper dough, lobster and tomato pesto cream sauce.
Spaghetti becomes a Sicilian sensory experience with brined olives, capers and anchovies.
So, you have a sampling of some of the culinary tricks the Favales have up their sleeves. Such good stuff behind the store-front facade on North Avenue.
It would take a lot of time and an expansive mid-section to get through the entire six-page menu at Enzo’s (the kids menu alone has a dozen items), but it’s a journey worth savoring.
QUOTE: “He who moves eats, he who stands still, dries up.” — Italian proverb
Send tips and ideas to Tess.Furey@ gjsentinel.com.