Off the Beaten Path with Peel Handcrafted Pizza in Frederick, CO

East of I-25, in Weld County, sits the burgeoning community of Frederick, Colorado. With 12,000 people strong, it’s not exactly a foodie destination, but it’s in proximity to many areas and recent development efforts make it an up-and-coming Front Range community.

One thing I found fascinating is that Frederick was incorporated in 1907 by three women who named the town after their father, Frederick A. Clark, the landowner of the site. It was a mining town and was home to almost exclusively Italian immigrants (my people)!

All that to be said, I’ve never been to Frederick, until I heard of Peel Handcrafted Pizza.

And I’ll be back. Again and again.

Here’s the thing: I run into a lot of trendiness. Denver and Boulder are well sought after and we’re lucky to have the food we have there, because it puts us on the map and it’s undoubtedly impressive (especially per capita in Boulder). But those cities have been forged for years.

Peel and the entire family that created it, cared about this local community and developing it into something much more. This takes gumption. And you know what? When you’re a driver and innovating, someone has to do something first. And that I greatly respect. I also learned that the developer helped bring Georgia Boys BBQs second location to Frederick across the street, so it’s much more than just the restaurant itself. It’s the community and the thread they care about weaving.

As owner Jason Hepp shares, “We’ve been involved in the community for a long time and on the heels of the Georgia Boys Smokehouse project we saw the opportunity available to add another layer of revitalization to the downtown area. Helping to breathe new life into the downtown would hopefully give local residents a downtown they could enjoy even more with their families and create a destination they’d like to share with others.”

Another favorite component is that this is truly a family affair. The owners are: Josh Jacobsen who is the Executive Chef (brother/son-in-law), Kevin Hepp is their wine aficionado (cousin/nephew), Jason Hepp is the local developer (son/cousin), Patrick Hepp is their systems expert (son/cousin), Angel Hepp is the marketing lead (wife/sister-in-law/daughter-in-law), and John Hepp has been an entrepreneur for 25+ years (father). They all have their hands in the restaurant.

It all feels very, if you build it, they will come.

The Space:

The interior is cozy and warm with a bar and the open kitchen/pizza oven as the focal point of the restaurant. To me, this feels like putting your heart on your sleeve – you show what you’ve got and everyone sees the ins and outs.

The bar and tabletops are made from repurposed bowling alley floor and a big part of the rest of the wood interior comes from a 100-year-old building (Douglas fir wood) that was next to this building, that they salvaged as it was coming down. There’s exposed steel beams and white subway tile encompassing the pizza oven and kitchen.In the summer months, they open the garage door windows out to their patio filled with Colorado-made Adirondack chairs, twinkle lights, and their own herb garden.

Their wood-fired pizza oven came from Italy and glows from the embers inside.

The Food: 

The team focuses the majority of their food on local and each server easily rattled off the local, nearby farms like Grateful Hearts Farm and other purveyors each item of food came from. The menu has starters, salads, pizza, paninis, and a kids pizza menu option for kids under 12. They plan to rotate the menu for seasonality around twice a year.

There’s a board with rotating specials with meat, cheese, and then a pasta special, salad special, and their desserts of the week. This kind of flexibility shows the stand-bys stay on their menu but they focus on seasonality where locals can still find something new and inventive.

The thin, hand-crusted pizza is a focal point of their menu. The pizza crisps in 60 seconds as the oven is 800 degrees. They have around nine pizzas, including a weekly rotating staff-made special, and even a make-your-own section to craft your favorite. They also offer gluten-free pizza.

I loved their pepperoni pizza particularly because they use Parmesan (instead of a more traditional mozzarella) which makes for a nutty flavor and lets the sauce and crust shine – see the look in photo above.

It has the perfect crispy thinness. On one wall they have the BPT (best pizza time) which reflects who can prepare the pizza from scratch and cook time. Currently, the best time is one minute thirty-eight seconds.

Pizza prices range from $12-16 per pie. It’s probably worth noting that their prices look more like Boulder prices (which at first surprised me), but because of the high quality local ingredients, I was happy to pay the price. It’s well worth it.

Their charcuterie plates rotate frequently – there’s a specials wall featuring their meat and cheese – including the likes of North Denver sausage, house made pickles, Moon Hill Drunken Higby cheese from Steamboat, house made mustard, and bread made special for them from (James Beard Nominated) Moxie bread. This particular plate was adorned with delicious, delicate micro greens.One thing I always wonder about with meat and cheese plates is that you pay a lot but you get one cheese and one meat. I like the range Peel offers from their Poplar plate ($8.50 – one meat, one cheese, accompaniments, sliced bread) or like their Mahogany plate ($17 – three meats, three cheese, etc. etc.).

The pasta dishes they offer are topped with their homemade sauce with pasta sourced from Pappardelle in Denver. The pasta dishes are rustic, simple, and hearty.

For dessert, we tried the pie in a jar and this seasonal creme brûlée with citrus. I loved the delivery of the dessert and also how fun it was. They also have a seasonal cheesecake and seasonal crisp that rotates on the menu.

Peel represents what a lot of heart and dedication can do, no matter the location. The food was so impressive it was one of the better meals I’ve had out in months. I can’t wait to go in the Summer to sit on their patio and enjoy the seasonal food they offer. Go for a little drive, to try them out!

Find Them: | 214 Fifth Street, Frederick, CO 80530

Happy hour Monday through Friday from 2:00-5:30 p.m. Open seven days a week until 8 p.m. (9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday)