September 28, 2023 | OPINION | By Sam Treat
The streets of Colorado Springs reflect the diversity of a city in an identity crisis.
Each tells a story, explaining a part of the city and the people that it holds. Tejon St. is no different. On the southern tip of Downtown, Tejon St. transforms into a tightly packed row of modern, chic eateries. The pinnacle of this modernistic takeover is the conglomerate of businesses operating under the name Fat Sully’s.
Fat Sully’s, originating in Denver and, weirdly enough, now operating in Kansas City, advertises “Big Ass Pies” served and made in a traditional New York thin-crust style. While Fat Sully’s, a part of the Atomic Provisions Restaurant Group, is the forefront of this business, the building houses a motley crew of restaurants. During mornings on weekends and weekdays Fat Sully’s becomes Denver Biscuit Co. Likewise, Frozen Gold, a soft-serve ice cream shop, operates as an extension of the bustling pizza restaurant.
With a lack of budget and intestinal fortitude, I opted to focus this review on the pizza restaurant that was the focal point of business. Loud and crowded, the interior of the restaurant screams millennial hangout. With red-felted pool tables in the corner, a 360-degree bar in the center, and dimly lit Edison bulbs hanging solo, Fat Sully’s embodies the energy of a dive without becoming one. Everything feels slightly upscale, which, despite the lack of glitz or glamour, positions Fat Sully’s as both a respectable dining location and the source of a good time.
The menu centers on pizza, but the peripheral foods – salads, fries, sandwiches, garlic knots, etc. – remained appealing. I opted for a smattering of different fare in a desire to create the most comprehensive evaluation possible. I ordered a New York style 26” pizza with homemade Italian sausage, onion, bell peppers, and pineapple on half (I do not apologize for this decision, and if you have an issue with pineapple on pizza, I suggest you grow up). I paired that with the Lights Out burger, waffle fries and a Caesar salad.
The burger, which I had the lowest expectations for (it was from a pizza restaurant, after all), arrived first. Upon tastebud touchdown, the burger deployed flavor that blew my expectations away. This was one of the best burgers I have encountered in Colorado Springs. The sauce was flavorful, the steak burger reminded me of a higher quality Midwest drive-in, and the inclusion of pickles was a welcome delight. The typical culprit of burger-building errors – the bun – was still guilty here. Despite the soggy bun, I cannot recommend the burger enough, especially when paired with the crispy waffle fries.
Besides pizza, the one thing that I believe to be a hallmark menu item at pizza restaurants is a Caesar salad. The art of the Caesar is an underrated one; not enough people realize the positive benefits of a good Caesar salad. As one who is well aware, I regret to inform my readership group (road trip soon, guys? I think we could probably all fit in one car), that the Caesar was, in one word: mid. The dressing was not well applied, nor was it particularly flavorful, and the lettuce lacked the vibrancy I was looking for. The true downfall of the salad, though, was the unimpressive croutons, usually a salad saver.
Once the pizza arrived, accompanied by a stack of the flimsiest paper plates I’ve ever seen, it was clear that the burger-pizza combo was not wise. Twenty-six inches is a LOT. Like, definitely six or more times average. Disgustingly huge, even. What does one even do with so much pizza? To answer that question: I tried to eat it.
With each slice as big as my arm, it was imperative that topping placement be in tune with the structure of the slice. The reality was not superb, as I would come to find out. With toppings sliding off and grease dripping everywhere, I tried to bite into the first piece. To my chagrin, it was not the weak crust or dripping grease that I found most offensive. It was the cheese; plain and simple, cheese makes (or breaks) a pizza.
Fat Sully’s cheese was squishy, almost squeaky to the bite. The overloading of cheese potentially was a contributing factor, but all in all, I was left dissatisfied with the flavor it provided. On the other side of things, the top third of the pizza was incredibly solid. The crust, when there is enough of it, is actually very tasty. Likewise, the toppings offered a fantastic blend of color, flavor, and texture.
While I was underwhelmed by the pizza offerings of this pizza-based establishment, I cannot completely write it off. I went into Fat Sully’s hoping to gain a new go-to pizza place; unexpectedly, I found a new favorite burger spot instead. It was the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who once said, “If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.”