When staff at the Telluride office of The Watch order lunch from the Brown Dog Pizza every so often, a divide naturally occurs. The guys generally call for a large Detroit style pizza – Brown Dog’s award winning specialty – while the gals generally ask for one of the various salads many locals have come to crave since Brown Dog opened at its current location in 2006.
Even though the salads are appetizing enough (and they are!), everyone, including the women, tend to gravitate toward the pizza – it’s impossible to resist. This is never a surprise though. At the Brown Dog, it’s all about the pizza.
Classic, satisfying American-style (round) thin crust pies are a staple at the Brown Dog and co-owner Jeff “Smoke” Smokevitch says they all start with a dough that's house made with a hard red wheat flour – a grain that took him nearly two years to find. For whatever reason, he says, it bakes to perfection in Telluride’s high altitude environment. You can go classic at the Brown Dog by ordering an American Margherita ($10.99, $15.99, $19.99), simply made with extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella or you can go with something a bit more bold like Smoke Dog ($11.99, $17.99, $21.99), which is topped with extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, and banana peppers and is served with a side of sauce for dipping.
For a pizza that’s completely different and somewhat sinful, order up a Detroit-style pizza. Since initially bringing this square pizza to its menu in 2011, this thick, airy, crusty pizza has quickly become a Telluride favorite and is now one of the Brown Dog’s signature dishes. Baked at 525 degrees in a specially made square blue steel pan (a pan that’s made in Detroit and was originally intended to hold auto parts but has found a new life in pizzerias) these square pizzas satisfy the senses in ways you never would have guessed. The transition from light airy crust in the middle to the crisp, cheesy edges are addictive. Try the Parma Italia ($13.99, $24.99) made with Parmesan, mozzarella, roasted eggplant, sweet piquante peppers and arugula.
Or, go with the award-winning Via Italia 3-1-3. No, you won’t find it on the menu but can always be served up. The 3-1-3 ($15.99, $26.99), named after the Detroit area code, is made with whipped New York ricotta, pressed garlic, whole milk mozz, dry Italian salami, red chili peppers, sweet piquante peppers, arugula, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, and shaved Parmesan Reggiano cheese. Sweet, spicy, creamy, perfect. The 3-1-3 took second place in the 2011 American Pizza Championships. Grab a corner or two…or four. This is a Detroit specialty that’s not found in many places around the country. You should feel so lucky that it can be found right in the heart of Telluride.
If pizza isn’t on the mind, the Brown Dog offers oven-baked subs and half-pound hand packed burgers that are now served on hoagie rolls and buns baked in house. The YX ($9.99) is the Brown Dog’s best selling sub. It’s crafted with sliced ribeye, white American cheese, grilled red and green peppers, mushrooms and red onions or go with the spicy version called the Cherry Bomb ($9.99) made with sliced ribeye, hot cherry peppers, barbecue sauce, marinara sauce, pepperoni and provolone cheese.
Should you have to make that decision to order a salad, there are plenty to choose from. But don’t kid yourself here. Follow your instinct.
ORDER A BOTTLE, GET A PIE: Smokevitch will soon be adding another Detroit-style pizza to the Brown Dog’s off-the-menu repertoire. Order a bottle of Charles Woodson’s (current Green Bay Packer cornerback and former teammate of Smokevitch at the University of Michigan) Twenty Four wine and it will come with the Lockdown Corner square pizza. It’s topped with Woodson’s favorite toppings. What are they? You’ll have to inquire in person to get that kind of knowledge.
GO FOR A GAME: The Brown Dog is Telluride’s connection to all things sporting on TV. There are plenty of screens at the bar and throughout the restaurant. Did I mention the wings? Plenty of sauces ($5.99 for six, $9.99 for 12).
$$, Open seven days a week, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.