On Friday, April 1, Pizzeria Locale debuted the latest creation in its ongoing Guest Chef Series. Tommy Lee now joins a list of real heavyweights — including Annette’s Caroline Glover, Rioja’s Jennifer Jasinski and Rosenberg’s Bagels’ Joshua Pollack — that have all contributed a recipe and a self-appointed charity to the truly star-studded program.
The development of the partnership came naturally, with Lee and Pizzeria Locale’s culinary director Jordan Wallace having known each other through visits to one another’s restaurants. “He called and I asked ‘do you want this to be an Asian pizza?'” laughed Lee, noting that there was always a sense that he would bring Eastern flavors to a program that had largely been influenced more by Italy and America. “It’s a good fusion of Pizzeria Locale and Hop Alley,” grinned the chef.
From there, Lee and Wallace toyed with a few ideas, including one centered around Peking Duck. The two ultimately landed on the Crab Rangoon. “Jordan and I worked on it for less than an hour,” Lee said. The pie sees Pizzeria Locale’s now iconic crust topped with a generous portion of lump crab, scalding pockets of cream cheese, scallions and a drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey. The dish winds up as a more than ample homage, elegantly sublimating the appetizer staple onto six crispy slices.
With each one of The Crab Rangoon Pizzas sold, Locale will donate $1 to the Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association — an outfit Lee said his wife picked, citing excellent experiences working with them in the past.
This collaboration is a true clash of the titans, with both Lee and Wallace’s knack for bold simplicity being enhanced in one compelling package. That it manages to be decidedly outlandish and utterly familiar speaks to both men’s talent. It’s also just undeniably a damn good pie.
The Crab Rangoon Pizza is available at all four Denver Pizzeria Locale locations until April 30.
All photography by Adrienne Thomas.
Editor’s Note: A more detailed description of the Crab Rangoon was added.