Pantaleone’s Italian Restaurant endured the harangues of British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay on an episode of the Fox Network reality series, “Kitchen Nightmares,” that aired Friday.
Judging from the conclusion, the pizza and pasta place run by the Fafalios family — husband and wife, Pete and Paulette and their son, Josh – the results seem to have improved the place at 2120 S. Holly St. in south Denver.
Chef Ramsay encountered a stubborn chef owner in Pete, who maintained the claim that his pizza was Denver’s best, as the restaurant claimed on the awning of the entrance.
“I’ll put my pizza up against anybody in the country; not just Colorado, the whole country,” Pete proudly proclaimed early in the episode.
After sampling a Pantaleone sausage pizza, Ramsay differed. “This is definitely NOT the best pizza in Denver.”
One of the few customers at the restaurant when Ramsay arrived was Mark DeNittis, who works for Sysco Denver food operations and is the found and CEO at The Rocky Mountain Institute of Meat: Foundations of Meat Fabrication. When Ramsay asked DeNittis about his meatball sandwich, DeNittis replied: “I’ve had better cat food!”
Only when Ramsay did a pizza taste test at Skyline Park, did it open Pete’s eyes to just how bad his pizza was. The test featured pizza’s from an unnamed favorite Denver eatery, a store-bought frozen pizza and one of Pantaleone’s pizza. Pantaleone’s finished last in the taste test.
Ramsay took Pete and Josh to Las Vegas to try out Rao’s in Las Vegas. Rao’s started in New York started in 1896 and the four-generation is packed nightly and recently expanded to a spot in Caesars Palace in Vegas.
“Kitchen Nightmares” gave Pantaleone’s a fresh look with black-and-white painted walls and old family photos on the walls, replacing the nearly 30-year-old rave reviews of the place and a “scary” clown hologram.
In the end, the restaurant was full of diners, including a couple of beauty queens and Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown.
Ramsay didn’t convince Pete to open on Sundays, though they will open to private parties. But Pantaleone’s is finally offering delivery, when Ramsay gave them a van with the restaurant name on it.
Pete seemed happy with the experience and gave his son more say in the business.
“Chef Ramsay is a remarkable, remarkable man,” Pete said. “I am very grateful to him. I love you, you old Brit!”
Paulette added: “Chef Ramsay really inspired us.”
This Friday (at 7 p.m. on KDVR, Fox 31), “Kitchen Nightmares” goes to Arvada and The Old Neighborhood.
Co-owners Paulette and Pete Fafalios thank chef Gordon Ramsay during an episode of the Fox reality series, ‘Kitchen Nightmares.’ (Fox network photo)