Bartender Adam Gamboa, right, chats with guests Wendy Rose, left, and Rick VanderLeek during a private party at Cart-Driver LoHi on Dec. 11, 2019 in Denver. The pizza, oyster and prosecco bar that started in RiNo in 2014 opened its second Denver location on Thursday, Dec. 12. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)
Like the Denver 20-somethings who grow up, settle down and move from downtown out to farther reaches, so, too, goes the city’s favorite little pizza restaurant, Cart-Driver, which has graduated from River North to a more mature neighborhood spot.
The wood-fired pizza and tinned seafood restaurant that keeps its prosecco on tap on Thursday opened a Highland outpost. But don’t worry, that 6-year-old RiNo shipping container home to Cart-Driver 1 will still stay its course.
There, you squeeze in for late-night happy hours and a handful of bar spots. But this second Cart-Driver sits back and spreads out. It’s located in the former Z Cuisine space, which closed in 2016 after 11 years.
Now, the French bistro has transformed into an Italian trattoria for the neighborhood. It’s slightly out of the way of the scene of Lower Highland, surrounded by residential homes and sitting pretty behind brick walls, the interior filled with marble and wood tabletops.
The menu, which has won Cart-Driver in RiNo much praise, stays largely the same here, with some additions. There’s a more robust cocktail program with options like the “messed-up” negroni that replaces gin with sparkling wine ($10), and new pizzas in varieties like mortadella with pistachio and a pistou sauce made with garlic, basil and olive oil ($16).
As in RiNo, diners still queue at the counter to order food and drinks. But once seated, they’ll receive table service for subsequent rounds. It’s a small change, but one that allows for more lingering on a night out — you know, the way you want it when you’re a little older and too tired to go anywhere else.
2239 W. 30th Ave., 720-501-2264, 4 p.m.-midnight daily, cart-driver.com
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