Friday, May 4, 2012


I was skeptical from the moment I first heard of Ignite, a new restaurant by Concept Restaurants, which recently opened in the Ballpark neighborhood on Larimer Street between 21st and 22nd.

Concept Restaurants is the group behind many metro-area restaurants, including Rialto Cafe, Woody's Wood-Fired Pizza, and Via Baci. Taking a quick look at Ignite's online menu, it seemed awfully similar to that at Via Baci, a casual Lone Tree pizza joint.

I've been to Via Baci many times, where I've enjoyed their spicy Diavolo pizza. While the food and ambiance are adequate to keep suburban families satisfied, I had a hard time believing it could morph into a sufficiently appealing spot on a restaurant-heavy stretch of downtown Denver.

And Ignite is surrounded by some outstanding downtown Denver restaurants. In a brave move on their part, they're directly across the street from our beloved Marco's Coal Fired Pizzeria.

We arrived at around 5:15 on a Friday evening, ahead of a 6:40 pm Rockies game. The main draw at Ignite seems to be their rooftop bar. I didn't get a chance to check it out - the wait to be seated upstairs was over an hour - but there was plenty of seating indoors on the ground level.

Mr. Oyster and I met up with a couple of friends, and we were all seated at a table downstairs. The ambiance downstairs was actually very nice. With high ceilings, an open floor layout, and windows along the entire west side, fresh air and late afternoon sunlight filled the room and lit up the bar area along the west side of the space.

As I stated earlier, the Ignite menu looked an awful lot like Via Baci's, although they seemed to be trying hard to put an "urban gastropub" spin on everything. Besides pizza and a few pasta dishes, the dinner offerings included burgers and chicken pot pies.

Mr. Oyster and I decided to share the Rosemary Chicken Pizza ($13.5) and a side of Mac and Cheese ($3)

Rosemary Chicken Pizza

The pizza was a letdown. The crust was too thick and chewy on the outside, and so flimsy at the center of the pizza that it was like soggy cardboard. The chicken pieces were dry and bland, and they were too large to eat easily off the pizza. The toppings were otherwise palatable, although the mozzarella could have used more flavor.

The Mac and Cheese was a complete disappointment.

Mac and Cheese

My husband only needed one bite before he announced "this is bad." The cheese was one-dimensional and bland. It tasted like nothing more than a tablespoon of Velveeta had been thrown in with the noodles. The portion was tiny, but that was irrelevant after tasting the pasta.

Ignite isn't cheap and the food is completely forgettable, particularly considering the quality of restaurants within a few blocks. The restaurant's redeeming value is certainly in its location and its rooftop patio.

Casual Dining

(3 of 10)

Pros: Great roottop patio and location
Cons: Below-average food, expensive


Ignite! Fire Crafted Food+Rooftop Bar on Urbanspoon


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